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General News of Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Source: Daily Guide

Cocaine Cash Missing

INTERPOL Officer, Pharmacist in picture

Mr. David Asante-Apeatu(picture), former Director/CID, who is currently with INTERPOL in France, and Mr. Adu-Amankwa, a pharmacist with the Police Service/Narcotics Board are soon to be invited to assist the Kojo Armah Committee to unravel the shocking disappearance of 67 cartons of seized cocaine from a police exhibits room at the police headquarters.

According to the Daily Guide, the two men will also help in making recommendations to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Kwamena Bartels, on how to stop the occurrence of such embarrassing incidents in the Police Service.

The paper says its investigations also reveal that, apart from the strange disappearance of the 67 large cartons of seized narcotic drugs from the police headquarters in Accra, the $10,000 exhibit that accompanied the drugs when they were intercepted at Prampram on May 21, 2006 has also vanished into thin air.

However, fresh revelations from veritable sources strongly suggest that there could be more to the cocaine theft from police custody than meets the eye.

Some of the revelations, the paper said, include the fact that the names of some officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) allegedly popped up on radar as being instrumental in the theft.

Apeatu, the crack investigator whose role in tracking down Charles Ebo Quansah in the murder of some 34 women earned him a lot of international respect, was the head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service.

His team also busted the Venezuelan cocaine ring at East Legon, which case came before the Georgina Wood Committee.

It is still too early to fathom why he is being invited to face the committee, but observers think his position as CID boss at the time of the theft is crucial in unraveling some of the mystery behind the missing cocaine.

At the moment, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Patrick Akagbo of the Violent Crime Unit of the CID is being held in connection with the matter.

The suspected modus operandi of certain officials in question, whose names are being withheld, was that they failed to return to stores cocaine taken to courts as exhibits, whenever they escorted remanded suspects to court. It was further alleged the 'exhibits' were then substituted with ordinary powder.

What is more certain is that some of the rendezvous, where those drugs were said to have been sold to specific customers, included two food and drink spots in Accra.

Both the cash and drugs were supposed to have been kept at the exhibit room under lock and key, but interestingly, only the stolen cocaine was mentioned when the Interior Minister, Hon. Kwamena Bartels recently set up the Kojo Armah Committee to look into the embarrassing police theft.

Even though ASP Opare Ofosu-Hene, then Prampram District Police Commander whose men intercepted the drugs, told the media that his district had handed over the $10,000, supposed to have been bribe money to his superiors in the Tema Region, the money had since not been mentioned anywhere. However, the DAILY GUIDE says it is also missing.

The money was a commitment fee left in a Toyota Avensis with registration number GR 1742 X, then packed near the Oasis Hotel at Prampram, following a $1.2m deal between the police and the barons to drop the case and release the drugs.

It would be recalled that soon after the arrest of the 42-year old Nigerian suspect in the case, Kenneth Urgah, and the drugs, his accomplices called the police pleading with them to strike a deal.

While they offered to give the police $450,000, the police insisted on $1.2 million which the barons agreed to pay and to demonstrate their commitment, released the initial sum of $1O,OOO in the parked car.

ASP Opare Ofosu-Hene explained to the Daily Guide's reporter that the essence of negotiating with the barons on phone was to lure them to come over so they could be unmasked, and stressed that both the money and cocaine were tendered as exhibits against the arrested Nigerian suspect to the regional command.

But a few days after the largest drug haul in Ghanaian history, Ofosuhene and some of the boys behind the seizure were transferred.

The Nigerian suspect was also bailed, contrary to directives that drug barons should not be bailed until investigations were complete. The suspect has since jumped bail.

Explaining why he granted them bail, the High Court Judge, Justice Anthony Adaba, shifted the blame to the prosecution, saying he was tricked into taking the decision he took.

According to him, the prosecution neither presented the accused as a foreigner nor an accomplice in the cocaine case, but indicated that he was a professional driver whose services were hired by the barons.

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