General News of Thursday, 18 August 2011
THE WEE SAGA: ASANTE BEDIATUO HAS FAILED TO CLEAR AKUFO-ADDO – ‘Africawatch’ magazine declares
Nana Asante Bediatuo’s attempt to debunk allegations of drug arrest in the U.S against Nana Akufo-Addo by producing a letter from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to support his claim has failed to clear the NPP flagbearer of the allegation and instead raised more questions about the issue, according to the just-released August edition of Africawatch.
The July edition ofthe magazineopened the latest can of worms into the Nana-Akufo-Addo wee arrest and smoking saga when it reported that a “…high-profile Ghanaian politician was nabbed at JFK Airport for a narcotic offence…he had in his possession a small quantity of marijuana…he said the marijuana was for his personal use.” While the magazine stopped short of mentioning the name of the “high-profile politician”, the Daily Post, with the evidence available to it, identified him as Nana Akufo-Addo, the flag bearer of the NPP in the 2012 elections. Nana Asante-Bediatuo, who claims to be a lawyer for the NPP flag bearer then went on a wild goose chase to convince Ghanaians that Nana Akufo-Addo was never nabbed with wee at the JFK Airport and does not smoke the illegal stuff.
In his zeal to prove the NPP flag bearer’s innocence, he produced a letter from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to exonerate him.
However, the Editor of this paper pointed out to him during an interview with Citi FM that the two agencies were like the Ghana Airport Company and GHAPOHA and as a result do not have the locus to be fully aware of drug arrests at US Airports.
Then enters Kweku Baako Jnr, a.k.a. Mr. Know all, a.k.a. Mr. Document, a.k.a. Bombay. He contacted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office at the U.S. Embassy in Accra for verification of the letters from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and sought possible DEA records on the matter.
But according to the August edition of the Africawatch, the reply of Jeffery Breeden, the head of the DEA office at the Embassy, “…did not help matters for Akuffo-Addo as more questions popped up…” The Daily Post was compelled to go off Nana Akufo-Addo’s wee arrest and wee smoking saga for a while to focus on other pressing issues begging for public attention. The paper will definitely be returning to delve deeper into this issue, regardless of the threat of death that has been issued against the editor by Nana Akufo-Addo’s men.
Meanwhile, below is the article by the latest edition of the Africawatch magazine which reveals the quack job done by Nana Asante Badiatuo in a desperate attempt to free Akufo-Addo from his drug mess. The magazine also exposes the very lousy job done by ‘Bombay’, another Akufo-Addo desperado who has no moral authority in this wee matter. Please read on. Africawatch, August 2011. Pages 16 & 17 More Questions Than Answers A lawyer for New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo has tried to debunk an allegation of a drug arrest in the U.S. against the NPP flagbearer by producing a letter from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to support his argument. But critics say the Port Authority, a local agency, was not the place to go. They say categorical statements obtained from the major federal agencies more actively involved with drug cases in the U.S. would have lent more credibility to Akufo-Addo’s lawyer’s statement, and would have gone a long way toward clearing the candidate’s reputation. Associate editor Rosemary Atiemo reports. Nana Asante Bediatuo, a lawyer for Ghanaian presidential candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recently sought to “set the records straight” on a longstanding drug-arrest allegation made against the politician. But the lawyer’s statement defending the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer raised more questions than it answered.
The statement regarded whether Akufo-Addo was ever arrested in a drug-related case at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Bediatuo, who is a relative of Akufo-Addo, contends that no such arrest ever occurred, and that the “said story is false and malicious,” although he did not specify who made the allegations against Akufo-Addo.
The lawyer produced a brief letter from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an agency charged with managing regional airports, bridges and tunnels in New York City and Northern New Jersey, to “set the records straight in respect of allegations in sections of the media to the effect that Nana Akufo-Addo was once arrested for possession of narcotic drugs at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, USA.” Bediatuo added for good measure: “We are confident that for those who are genuinely interested in the truth, this matter will now be put to rest.”
But that hasn’t happened.
Instead, the letter has raised more questions for the politician. Credibility Concerns The Port Authority Police Department’s main responsibility is to protect facilities controlled by the agency. However, sometimes Port Authority police officers respond to “special requests to assist with incidents outside of the agency’s jurisdiction,” according to the agency. In addition to the Port Authority letter, the Akufo-Addo team said it has another letter from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, obtained in 2007, that also clears the candidate of the allegation.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority oversees the management, operations and capital development of the Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Dulles International Airport, both in the Washington, D.C., area.
While the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority both have police departments, drug-related arrests involving air travelers in the U.S. typically are handled by federal agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or the Transportation Security Administration, not police departments of the airport management. So for Bediatuo, according to political observers who knows the American system, to bypass federal agencies most actively involved in making drug arrests at U.S. airports, and get a letter from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to “set the records straight,” creates some credibility concerns. The political observers say managers of regional transportation facilities such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are clearly not the best sources for one to get a letter to clear oneself of narcotic issues in the U.S. That was not a smart move by Akufo-Addo’s lawyer, they argued. The three-sentence letter from the Port Authority states: “Your letter of February 27, 2008 was received in my office on February 21, 2008, for processing under the Port Authority’s policy on Freedom of Information, copy enclosed. You seek copies of any arrest records related to Nana Akufo-Addo for years 2003 through 2008. We have searched our files and found no records responsive to your request.” The letter was signed by Kathleen P. Bincoletto, indentified as the administrator who handles media inquiries based on the U.S. federal law called the Freedom of Information Act. But according to critics, while the letter makes clear that no records of an Akufo-Addo arrest were found in the Port Authority’s office, it does not confirm that no such arrest ever occurred.
Nor does it address whether such records might be held by deferral agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, or the Transportation Security Administration.
The critics explained that although U.S. federal agencies work with local agencies such as the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Authority, they do not necessarily report to them. And if, say, the Customs and Border Protection agency, which has immediate jurisdiction over such drug arrests at U.S. airports, has one’s records, the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Authority will not know until they contact Customs and Border Protection.
U.S. federal agencies have far bigger databases of records than local organizations such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. And it is not all information that the federal agencies share with the local ones. It is usually done on a need-to-know basis. The statement from Akufo-Addo’s lawyer did not say whether any other American agencies (federal or local) besides the Port Authority and Metropolitan Authority were contacted regarding possible drug-arrest records.
However, the local media in Ghana contacted the DEA office at the U.S. Embassy in Accra for verification of the letters and to seek possible DEA records on the matter. The head of the DEA office at the Embassy, Jeffrey Breeden, was reported as saying “the two letters you sent me are from legitimate law enforcement agencies in the U.S., which state the subject has no criminal record in the U.S.,” and that he saw “no need to provide any further verification reference this issue.”
Critics say Breeden’s response wasn’t direct enough and that he just confirmed what all knew already, that the letters came from the managers of the two regional transportation facilities and that their police departments are legitimate law enforcement agencies – something no none is disputing. So there was no need for a third-party verification of the letters because their contents were based on records of the two regional transportation facilities and not the DEA. Breeden’s statements did not help matters for Akufo-Addo as more questions popped up regarding why he refused to categorically state whether DEA had or didn’t have any records on the issue. That could have made a big difference in Akufo-Addo’s defense, but the DEA Accra chief tactfully denied the NPP presidential candidate that chance.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned with major drug-trafficking operations. Customs and Border Protection’s primary duties include apprehending individuals attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, and stemming the flow of illegal drugs, and agents of the Transportation Security Administration inspect baggage for prohibited items, including illegal drugs.
Categorical statements obtained from those three U.S. federal agencies would have lent more credibility to Akufo-Addo’s defense and would have gone a long way toward clearing his battered reputation. But a media offensive – with information only from the managers of regional transportation facilities – helps keep the questions coming.