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Opinions of Monday, 25 August 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Akrasi Sarpong Ought to Know Better

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
August 7, 2014

The picking up for questioning - or so-called debriefing - of the former New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament (NPP-MP) for Nkoranza-North, Mr. Eric Amoateng, by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), shortly after Mr. Amoateng's plane touched down at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), was rather classless (See "Amoateng's Invitation No Political Witch-Hunt - NACOB" / 8/7/14).

It may be recalled that Mr. Amoateng was arrested at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) nearly 10 years ago by detailed agents of the FBI and charged with drug trafficking. He would be shortly sentenced to a prison term right here in the United States. I personaly think that this ex-convict ought not to have been accorded the reportedly humongous welcome that he received at the KIA. Pride and decorum dictate that Amoateng's release and arrival ought to have been kept under wraps until the man had actually landed in Ghana for at least a day or two. For as I vividly recall, Amoateng's widely publicized arrest, prosecution and sentencing was a great embarrassment to the Sovereign Republic of Ghana and its globally well-spoken-of citizenry.

Of course, the former Nkoranza-North MP was not the first politician anywhere to have been arrested and charged with such criminal offense. What made this particular case extremely difficult to accept, however, was the fact of Ghanaians generally priding ourselves in our good image and reputation of being honest and law-abiding wherever we have been known to be. Amoateng nearly put us on par with countries a remarkable number of whose inhabitants are widely known for drug trafficking like Nigeria, Colombia and Mexico.

But what makes the NACOB pickup of Mr. Amoateng, for debriefing, at the Kotoka International Airport rather curious, is the fact that Ghanaians who found themselves in a similar situation under the Rawlings-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and who were known to be in the pay of Chairman Rawlings, were well protected and shielded from the sort of unsavory publicity and treatment meted Mr. Amoateng by NACOB Executive-Secretary Mr. Akrasi Sarpong. There is, for instance, the infamous case of a Mr. Benneh, an NDC diplomatic operative, who was allegedly arrested and detained by German authorities (some say it was Swiss security agents) on narcotic contraband charges. Mr. Benneh would be later released and deported back to Ghana.

What is fascinating about the Benneh story is the fact that the Rawlings government, predictably, did not give it the high media publicity and prominence that the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress is giving the Amoateng case. What is also quite interesting to highlight is the fact that the National Democratic Congress is notorious for giving asylum to foreign drug kingpins, as well as pimping Ghanaian women for the entertainment of these fugitive guests of the NDC.

It is for the foregoing reasons that the doubly hostile treatment of Mr. Amoateng cannot be anvisaged to be wholly in keeping with established protocol, as Mr. Akrasi Sarpong would have the Ghanaian public believe.