Ghana has charged nine people with treason for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, in a rare case for one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.
The suspects, who were arrested in a security operation last month, pleaded not guilty as they appeared in court in the capital Accra on Wednesday.
They include four military officers and a medical doctor accused of using his hospital to manufacture weapons as part of a scheme to “destabilize” President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government.
Prosecutors in court said the accused — part of a group called Take Action Ghana — intended to stage several protests with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the president.
The judge remanded those charged in custody until October 28 for another hearing.
Two other suspects who were initially arrested were discharged.
Defense lawyer Victor Adawudu told the local media that his clients were being set up.
“My clients are innocent. They are being framed up and must be released,” he said.
Ghana is viewed as a bulwark of stability in a region characterized by insecurity and turbulence.
It has been run by democratically-elected governments since 1992 and is gearing to hold fresh polls late next year.
Incumbent Akufo-Addo looks set to face a challenge from former leader John Mahama for the top job.
Treason is a criminal offense punishable by the death sentence in Ghana, but the country has stopped executing prisoners since its return to civilian rule in 1993.