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Opinions of Monday, 31 March 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

It Was Brandful Who Started It

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The recalling of Mr. Edmund Kofi Agbenutse Deh, Ghana's ambassador to Japan, last week, was only to be expected (See "Ghana's Envoy In Japan Recalled Over Gambling Saga" Graphic Online 3/25/14). It was highly unlikely that our man in Tokyo was going to waive his diplomatic immunity by consenting to be deposed by the Metropolitan Police Department of the host country, without him having first been questioned by his bosses in Accra.

What is significant here to observe is the fact that Mr. Deh clearly appears to have "inherited" the gambling racket from his predecessor and career diplomat, Dr. William Mensah Brandful. And so quite naturally, and logically, one expects Dr. Brandful, wherever he may presently be, to have been questioned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hannah Tetteh, and her deputy, Mr. Thomas Kwesi Quartey. We must also hasten to point out that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has a long and unenviable track record of shielding criminal elements among its operatives assigned to our foreign diplomatic missions and embassies.

There is, for example, the infamous Benneh case in which the Rawlings-led government of the National Democratic Congress swiftly went to the rescue of a diplomatic operative charged by the German government, or some such cardinal European country, with dealing in narcotic contrabands. And so the latest Japan diplomatic contretemps may only be just another link in a long chain of diplomatic illegalities characteristically normalized by the key operatives of the NDC.

What is also clear in this ongoing saga is that while, indeed, Mr. Deh may not have initiated the gambling racket of which Ghana's chief diplomat to Tokyo has been charged, he, nevertheless, was professionally competent enough to have appreciated its gross and patent incompatibility with his status as Ghana's chief diplomat in Japan. And so he may be equally as culpable as the man who actually started this illegal operation, namely, Dr. William Mensah Brandful.

We also learn that the latter may well have been hoodwinked by some illegal Japanese gamblers into leasing rental space for their illegal activities. But whether the arrested tenants had, indeed, misled their Ghanaian diplomatic landlord into believing that they were the conscientious operatives of a non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged in charitable activities in Third-World countries, including Ghana, is clearly beside the point. It was still the inescapable responsibility of the landlord to conduct background checks on the prospective tenants to ascertain the same.

At least one of the ten arrested tenants is reported to be claiming that his landlord had consented to using his diplomatic immunity status to protect the racketeers. We also learn from the Tokyo press that on several occasions, at least one of the two Ghanaian diplomats allegedly involved in the racket had visited the rented premises while gambling activities were in full blast or operation. If such claim has credibility, then it well appears that our Tokyo-based chief diplomats had aided and abetted an illegality.

In sum, whether Mr. Deh gets to be permanently recalled or not is also clearly beside the point. The image and reputation of Ghanaians in Japan have also been gravely tarnished. And the fallout from the same may very well affect otherwise decent and innocent Ghanaian citizens resident in that country. We hope not, however, as these largely private Ghanaian residents and immigrants have absolutely nothing to do with the evidently shady diplomatic dealings of the Mahama-led government of the so-called National Democratic Congress.

This patently undesirable attention drawn by the NDC operatives of Ghana's Tokyo diplomatic mission is apt to haunt representatives dispatched to that country for quite sometime to come. Restrictions over the leasing of rental space, and other activities, are also likely to be imposed. Ultimately, though, one thing is for certain - Ghanaian voters at home need to be thoroughly schooled about the caliber of citizens they ought to be electing to take charge of their affairs. For our collective reputation and dignity abroad are gravely at stake.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
March 29, 2014
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net
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