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Disappearance of seized drugs This is not the first

Bennett Akuaku, Ghanaian Chronicle , 8th June 2006

The strange disappearance of some 5kg of cocaine from the grips of officials of the Narcotics Control Board, which hit the headlines a fortnight ago, may seem strange to many.

But to those who have mouthfuls of such stories to tell, the recent development is not surprising.

On countless occasions, developments of hard drug pilfering within the police service, thanks to the culture of silence that still lurks around, are submerged, while those who venture to make noise are frustrated ‘big time’; a situation that goes a long way to buttress claims by serving police officers and a section of the public that some high-ranking officers are either accomplices or neck-deep in the ‘evil business’.

For instance on the 27th of November 2002, about 3kg of cocaine and a large sack full of Indian Hemp (wee) seized at La by the La Police and sent to the station’s exhibit store, were allegedly stolen.

One of the personnel who was instrumental in the arrest of the culprits and seizure of the drugs, Detective/Inspector P.K. Annobil, with a bleeding heart, ‘identified’ his colleagues involved in the theft and officially informed almost every top official that mattered.

And when, as would be expected, it seemed nothing was being done about the case, he informed the then Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Nana Nsiah-Poku, and sought permission to go to court.

In a detailed letter dated 14th December 2004, the courageous police detective applied to the then IGP to be allowed to institute court action against Superintendent Richard Baduweh, then of the Central MTTU, Accra, D.S.P.

Fosu Ackaah, District Commander, La, Chief Inspector Albert Tanoh, station officer, and Detective/Corporal Richard Bedzrah of SCID, La, whom he listed to the authorities as having stolen the drugs.

According to the petition, when the suspects, from whom the drugs were originally seized, were arraigned before an Osu court, they were merely charged for causing damage and resisting arrest but nothing was said about drugs.

“The charge of possessing narcotic drugs was deleted under the pretext that the cases had been transferred to the Narcotic Unit, CID Headquarters. This is a clear indication that the narcotic cases were deleted for a reason, no other reason, than big money,” he stated.

Detective/Inspector Annobil also noted that there were many forgeries of official documents and false entries in the police R.O. book, and asked why items such as cocaine should be kept in an exhibit store without records.

He revealed also that his original hand-written statement in the docket: The Republic Versus Sowah, alias Red, and Odartey; (Re-Possessing Indian Hemp-3 counts, Possessing Cocaine-3 counts, Resisting Arrest-2 counts, and Assault on Police Officer-2counts), was extracted before it was sent to the Attorney-General’s office for study and advise.

The aggrieved officer described the seized items as ‘Indian Hemp in s fertilizer sack, Indian Hemp in an open wooden book, and cocaine in a polyethylene bag’.

But a year later, and still not satisfied that little had been done on the matter for nearly three years, Annobil again on 8th March 2005 wrote to the current IGP, P.K. Acheampong, giving further details and reminding him of the need to get to the bottom of the matter. Once again there was lack of moral will to look for the missing cocaine.

A WHISTLEBLOWER’S REGRET Thankfully, the whistleblower (name withheld) who gave information that led to the arrest of the cocaine was not happy at the apparent frustration at the top and joined the fray.

On 2nd February 2006, he also wrote to the IGP and appealed for an independent investigation, promising he was ready to assist in getting to the bottom of the matter, and stressing that such a lackadaisical attitude could dampen the spirits of informants.

“As an informant, I felt it was not necessary for me or my friends to disclose our identities to the police or the public. Several petitions sent to the IGP were not attended to.

“In fact, it is painful for one to volunteer information only for the police to enjoy the fruits personally without following the due process of the law in the interest of the state,” he lamented.

He said the most painful aspect was the fact that none of the officers named had been called upon to justify their action or inaction.

Another story being investigated by the paper was the sudden disappearance from the same station of 82 cartons of fake ‘Ke Ba Shoo’, a popular alcoholic beverage, whose original manufacturers are McBells Distilleries.

The illegal production was then being done in a house at Asylum Down, a suburb of Accra. The seized drinks, which could be dangerous for human consumption, were allegedly diverted by some policemen and resold in the open market.

It is recalled that in 2001, three people reportedly died at Pokuase, near Accra, after drinking some brands of the drink, which was later found to be fake.

In this case also, the whistleblower, whose efforts led to the Asylum Down seizure, is still hoping against hope for the day justice would be done.

The plight of whistleblowers and courageous police officers came to the fore recently in the wake of the historic confiscation of several dozens of large cartons of cocaine in Old Ningo, a coastal town in the Dangme West district in the Greater Accra region.

Residents at the Prampram beach told The Chronicle they would not encourage anyone to assist the police to arrest any smugglers because others, including the police, would be the eventual beneficiaries of their ‘labour’.

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