…Prez Akufo-Addo Will Make Ghana A Narco State
In April 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released a report titled, “The Development Response to Drug Trafficking in Africa: A Program Guide.”
In that report, it was noted that African drug barons used bribery of key government officials as a major tactic to create and sustain freewheeling operations on the continent.
Interestingly, for anecdotal example of cozy rapport between drug dealers and government officials, the relationship between President Nana Akufo-Addo and Raymond Amankwah, a drug baron of serious international notoriety, was cited.
A well-known bankroller of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Amankwah is the brother-in-law of President Akufo-Addo and financial donor to his Presidential bids. In 2007, when he was arrested at the Pinto Martins Airport at Fortaleza, Brazil, for acting together with two women to traffic almost 7 kilograms of cocaine, investigation revealed that Raymond Amankwah had traveled on a diplomatic passport, D1878450.
Amazingly, President Akufo-Addo was Foreign Affairs Minister in the erstwhile Kufuor regime at the time of Amankwah’s arrest and around that same time diplomatic passports had gone missing in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
That is not all; when Akufo-Addo was Foreign Minister, another drug dealer called Yaw Amfo-Kwakye, was his Personal Assistant.
Almost a year after the USAID had published its report on drugs and politics in Africa, the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD), an independent body, convened by the Kofi Annan Foundation, released a separate report in January 2014 entitled, “State Officials and their involvement in Drug Trafficking in West Africa.”
This report also referenced the relationship between Akufo-Addo and Raymond Amankwah, who had been jailed 14 years in Brazil for cocaine trafficking.
The WACD report however affirmed that Raymond Amankwah was not only bankroller for Akufo-Addo but the whole of the NPP.
Prior to the arrest and subsequent jailing of Amankwah in Brazil, the Kufuor regime had seized Amankwah’s properties. However, the WACD report underscores that, “Nana Akufo-Addo, who had by then been nominated Attorney General – and subsequently presidential candidate for the then ruling NPP – quietly returned the property to Amankwah’s family.”
On account of Nana Akufo-Addo’s cozy-cozy relationship with drug dealers, including Amankwah, the USAID and the WACD reports had subtly warned that Ghana would become a Narcotic State, if Akufo-Addo was elected President.
It has been less than six months since President Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn into office on 7th January, 2017 and $30million worth of trafficked cocaine that is said to have been smuggled into the country from Surinam has gone missing at the Tema Port.
The specter of Ghana becoming a banana republic with drug dealers as helmsmen might just be unfolding!
In a saga that reeks of collusion by regime actors, 50kg of cocaine, concealed in 10 bags, each weighing 5kgs, has vanished into thin air after it landed at the Tema Port, even though state anti-drug agency, the Narcotics Control Board, had been alerted ahead of its arrival by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Surinamese authorities.
The manner of the loss is strikingly similar to another swashbuckling cocaine story under the erstwhile Kufuor regime when a limper called Sherif Asem Darkeh, is supposed to have carted away 77 parcels of cocaine from a vessel docked at Kpone, called the MV Benjamin, in 2007.
The strange loss of the cocaine also takes Ghanaians down memory lane to the days when cocaine in the custody of the police magically transmogrified into Kokonte (powdered cassava) when the NPP was in power in 2007.
In the aftermath of the spiriting away of the $30 million cocaine, NACOB, which is said to have relayed the alert from UNODC to the Joint Port Control Unit (JPCU) at the Tema Port, is blaming the Customs Unit of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority for the loss of the cocaine, ostensibly because a laxity on their part is what led to the loss.
According to reports, GPHA and Customs officials had removed the container suspected to be holding the cocaine from an area of surveillance to another area, the Golden Jubilee Terminal, at the request of the importer, without recourse to NACOB.
Also, a 24-hour surveillance that the JPCU was supposed to have mounted on the container holding the cocaine was said to have, questionably, been delegated to the GPHA’s head of security at the port, while a NACOB surveillance team had only visited the depot where the suspected cocaine was kept sporadically.
Customs officials are rejecting the blame from NACOB.
As the blame-game takes centre stage, however, the reality that it was the whole of government security machinery that had managed to ostensibly let $30million cocaine under surveillance slip from their hands is not lost on Ghanaians. NACOB, the BNI, Customs, National Security, the GPHA and JPCU stand smelly with suspicion.
Officials from these agencies were present, along with agents from foreign counterparts, when the container suspected to have held the cocaine was finally opened after its owner supposedly had refused to turn up after several months, and the discovery that the 10 bags of cocaine had vanished, was made.
The ostensible lousy performance of the Ghanaian security apparatus is supposed to be a source of disappointment to the UNODC, which provided the tip-off on the drugs, the UK’s Operation West Bridge and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which had also tracked the drugs.
In the immediate aftermath of the strange loss of the $30million worth of cocaine right from under the nose of Ghana’s law enforcement agencies, Confidence Nyadzi, CEPS Sector Commander at the Tema Port, came out with a vehement denial that the cocaine had gone missing.
In what seemed to be a spirited attempt at damage control, Mr. Nyadzi claimed that no such thing as cocaine had been imported into the country through the Tema Port and that both the BNI and NACOB had reached the same conclusion after investigation.
“I can tell you that there is no truth in that reportage. I know that this matter has been dealt with at the office of the Minister of Interior and at that meeting was the Commissioner of Customs, the ex-commissioner, Mr. John Vianney, myself, NACOB and the relevant stakeholders. We looked at all the issues involved, as to whether there was a cocaine missing or not, I don’t think anybody can tell you that. And I’m telling you that the report is misleading. There was no cocaine in Tema Port in anybody’s custody which got missing.”
In other words, Mr. Nyadzi paints the picture that the UNODC and the Surinamese government had sent Ghanaian officials on a wild goose’ chase with a fake tip-off; a tip off that had sent the American DEA and the UK’s Operation West Bridge swinging into action.
Mr. Nyadzi’s claim is in spite of the fact that K9 security dogs are said to have sniffed cocaine on the container that had been suspected to hold the drugs.
Former Communications Minister in the erstwhile Mahama regime, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, has called on the government to investigate the matter, with a Presidential Staffer, Ibrahim Adjei, echoing same sentiment.
This $30million cocaine drama is very interesting because of the fact that it is happening under the governance of the New Patriotic Party, which already has a serious mean streak in the area of drugs, with the infamous MV Benjamin cocaine saga resonating close to home.
Just like the Tema Port, cocaine got missing under the watch of security agents, a limper, called Christian Asem Darkeh, is supposed to have, in April 2006, managed to cart away 77 parcels of cocaine each weighing 30 kilograms, from MV Benjamin, a ship that had docked at Kpone/Tema.
The parcels had been offloaded into a waiting vehicle which later carried them away in spite of the fact that security agencies had been duly notified.
Again, in April 2007, when the NPP was in its last days in power, a huge quantity of cocaine that had been seized by the police transmogrified into kokonte (powered dry cassava) while in the custody of the police.
These were the days of the erstwhile Kufuor regime which had been bankrolled by Eric Amoateng, former MP for Nkoranza North, who had earlier in 2005, been busted in the US and jailed for 8 years for trafficking heroine.
Like Akufo-Addo’s cousin, Raymond Amankwah, who had been caught in Brazil in possession of a diplomatic passport, while trafficking cocaine, Eric Amoateng had been busted in the US trafficking heroin as a diplomat because he was a sitting MP at the time.
The first NPP regime so dented Ghana’s image with drugs that at a point government officials were stripped off diplomatic courtesies at the Airports and searched like ordinary travelers.
Later, after the regime had been voted out of power in 2008, the current President, Nana Akufo-Addo, was severally caught in the mix of drugs and drug-related personalities.
Wikileaks revelations had broken stories of Akufo-Addo’s addiction to wee and the fact that he breakfasts on the narcotic substance every morning. Steve Mallory, Editor of Africa Watch and a close friend of Akufo-Addo’s, had published stories of the alleged arrest of Akufo-Addo with small quantity of wee at the JFK Airport in the US by American authorities.
The authorities are said to have eventually left him off the hook because the small amount he was carrying for personal use implied that he was not a dealer, but a victim of hard drugs.
The same Akufo-Addo, who is Ghana’s current President, is known to be chummy with well known drug dealing ex-convicts, including Yaw Amfo-Kwakye. Amfo-Kwakye was Akufo-Addo’s Personal Assistant when he was Foreign Affairs Minister under Kufuor.
Mr. Amfo-Kwakye enjoyed his position as Foreign Affairs Minister Akufo-Addo’s right hand man from 2005 till in 2011, when a tour of the UK and Germany by Akufo-Addo, who had been elected flagbearer of the NPP for the 2012 election, tilted open his dirty past.
It came to light that he was an ex-convict who had been jailed in the 80s for trafficking marijuana to the UK. In the damning revelations, Amfo-Kwakye was remembered to have tried moving a large quantity of wee into the UK through stuffing the ganja into clefts carved out of tubers of yam.
Another drugs connection of the President is Nana Poku Ofori Atta, a criminal cousin of Nana who was a member of Akufo-Addo’s Campaign Finance team during the 2008 elections. Along with current Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, Keli Gadzekpo of Data Bank and Edward ‘Bumpty’ Akufo-Addo, Nana Poku managed some $47million that Akufo-Addo had splurged on the 2008 campaign.
It has long been in the news that Nana Ofori-Atta is an ex-convict drug dealer who had been jailed in Germany for trafficking. However, in September 2011, Africawatch, a pan African magazine, published that sources within the NPP had said Ofori- Atta had not been jailed for drugs but for money laundering.
David Kojo Anim, aka Le Baron, international drugs kingpin and owner of the Le Baron hotel in East Legon, had been arrested by undercover Metropolitan police in London, trafficking 50kg of heroin in 2014.
Not too long after his arrest, it came to the fore that he is a bankroller of the NPP who had supported the 2012 campaign of President Akufo-Addo with some $2million and motor bikes.
Following the revelation, the NPP tried to distance itself from the baron who is said to have ties with drug lords in South America, Europe and the USA. However, persistent public enquiry forced Assin Central MP, Ken Agyapong to come out and admit that Le Baron indeed sponsored the campaign of Akufo-Addo.
According to Mr. Agyapong, however, the support had only been in the form of the provision of motorbikes.
All these criminal characters, whose public profiles only serve as window into President Akufo-Addo’s circle of friends, had waited with bated breath while contributing to the campaigns of Akufo-Addo to become President from as far back as 1999 when Akufo-Addo had challenged ex-President Kufuor at the NPP’s primaries to become flagbearer, but failed.
They had failed to get Akufo-Addo elected as President in 2008 and 2012; but in 2016, they won power.
And lo and behold, $30 million worth of cocaine has suddenly been spirited away from under the noses of drug enforcement agents less than five months into the government of Akufo-Addo.