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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Great Deception: Law Enforcement Agencies And the Battle On Narcotics

Last two years cocaine and other drug related stories and cases became the headline stories of the press and crowded the conversation of almost every Ghanaian. Prominent among the stories were the MV Benjamin vessel and the loss of cocaine which was kept at the Narcotic Control Office. At the height of the cocaine cases I wrote two articles on this issue (Ghana's Image and Drug Trafficking, and It Is Time To Dismantle The Cocaine Empire In Ghana). In the heat of the 'spree of the cases' a committee was set up and the report indicted some drug barons including some top brass of Ghana Police Service.

The Justice Georgina Wood Report was so clear that one does not need an extensive vocabulary for understanding. The report to some extent exposed the complexities of some police officials in the cocaine deal. ACP Kofi Boakye, the then Police Director of Operation name was mentioned. In the trial process he metamorphosed from a defendant to a prosecuting witness. The trial ended with Kwabena Amaning (aka Tagor) and his accomplices been convicted and sent to prison.

To those of us who were following the story no one heard about how the substances suspected to be cocaine which got missing at the Narcotic Control Office in Accra. Those whose names were cited by the report were not prosecuted nor did we hear of the recall those substances which had entered the 'street'. The high rod of justice could not descend on those involved in the case. It was only Tagor and few others who were used to 'pacify' the god'.

Even still the cases of cocaine and other narcotics been transited through Ghana continues to increase. It was not a surprise when Honourable Kan Dapaah said in parliament that Ghana has become a transit point in the cocaine international drug trade. Day by day people are arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on attempt to export cocaine to Europe, North America or Far East. When a flight from Ghana touches down in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or New York passengers are subjected to critical search. The country is gaining notoriety.

Our only bastion against this nefarious trade is the police who are supposed to help keep the nation free from the menace of the narcotic syndicates in the country, has not helped us. Rather, some of them have become involved in the business helping suspects to escape from arrest and prosecution. Just last week it was reported by the Ghanaian Chronicle that tension was mounting among police investigative officers at the Narcotics section of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), of the Police Headquarters in Accra, over the strange disappearance of part of the 67 cartons of cocaine, which was seized at the Prampram beach on May 21, 2006. Police sources have revealed that narcotic substances in their custody were substituted with other substances, despite the fact that the door to the Narcotics Exhibits Store at the Police Headquarters was not damaged.

This is not the first time such case has happened within the Ghana Police. In the year 2006 it was reported that some seized cocaine magically turning into Kokonte at police station. And on Friday a five-member panel was inaugurated by the Minister of Interior to investigate the suspected narcotic drug substitution by police at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Headquarters of the Ghana Police Service. The action of the minister is brilliant. But the question still remains: will the government have the boldness prosecute 'all' whose names would be mentioned in this clandestine act? In this country we are very good in setting up committee, sometimes, just to tell the international communities and other observers that we are also doing something and yet we fail to implement the report or the findings. To some extent this constitutes 'wilfully causing financial loss to the state'-to use tax payers money for investigation and fail to implement the findings or the recommendations. There are uncountable numbers of report findings which have gathered dust at the Attorney General's Department. We lack the willingness to prosecute culprits yet we have the tendency to form a committee to investigate things in the country. Or just to change the figure: we have the high blood pressure of setting up committees but an anaemia of implementing the report.

This act by police is morally and ethically reprehensible. It tells us that public officials in this country are willing to sacrifice their country on the altar of monetary gain. This is not the first time this has happened in the country. What is going on within the police service is a serious threat to the security of this country. If a policeman or men could muster courage to steal narcotic substances from a police storeroom it this tells us the dangerous dimension the issue has taken

. If we do not act now the consequences would be enamours. There is a real danger as drug barons could infiltrate the Legislature, Judiciary and political parties and that could destabilise all the democratic institutions. These people can fund a particular political party and once the party wins the election everybody can imagine what would happen in the country. We live in a nation whereby people adorn wealth more than anything. Moral integrity is something rare in the country. We claim to attend churches on Sundays or mosques on Fridays yet we do not practice the very faith we believe. I do not want to sound that the police are the only people who have compromised on the security of the nation for some monetary gains. On many occasion some staff of the Internal Revenue Service(IRS), Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and Valued Added Tax (VAT) Service have collaborated with businessmen and traders to evade taxes-the desire to become rich quickly. It is trite but urgently true that corruption has littered Ghanaian society as suicide bombers have monopolised the city of Baghdad. THE WAY FORWARD. There is no human problem which cannot be solved. All that we need is the commitment and the willingness I bet you we can win the war on narcotics. I think Tupac Shackur was not wrong when he said 'let's change the way we do things because we realise that the old way is not working'.

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATORS.

In this country whenever a committee report is sent to the executive there is either white paper issued or the Attorney General's unwillingness to proceed with prosecution. We can only succeed if there are independent investigators are given the mandate to do such investigation. The findings should not be left to the AG to decide who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. When independent investigators are given the right to prosecute think nobody would be spared on such matters. The word to wise is enough.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: appiahkusiy2k@yahoo.com

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.