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General News Mon, 17 Sep 2001

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Confusion At Black Market

The business district of Accra bustles with all kinds of business activities - legal and illegal. The illegal activities are carried out by crooks whose preoccupation is to cheat others, especially foreigners who frequent the city from neighbouring countries.

Mr. Kudos, a Yoruba man domiciled in Abidjan comes to Accra regularly with his sister who is also his business partner to buy an assortment of goods, which they take back to Cote d'Ivoire in consonance with the spirit of the ECOWAS free movement of goods and persons.

A fortnight ago their good feelings about Ghana nearly changed when they fell into the hands of some Nigerien black market dealers. As they normally do, they had gone to a spot near Seraphim Stores at Okaishie to change their CFA into cedis. As soon as they handed over the amount of 4 million CFA to Alhaji Kange, the money dealer, four hefty men with all the trappings of a pre-arranged operation pounced on the man and snatched it from him. They then fled the scene leaving the victims to their fate.

The business partners not knowing what to do rushed to the shop of a woman from who they usually buy goods and narrated their story, shedding copious tears.

They were advised to go to the Police Headquarters from where some constables were detailed to go and arrest the suspects.

Alhaji Kange the money dealer and other suspects were brought to the Police. The suspects confessed that Alhaji Kange was indebted to his partners, so the plot was hatched to repay the debtors.

They were granted bail and one of them was heard boasting that they were going to come out of it unscathed, since they knew their way around.

The victims nearly gave up hope of recovering their money until a fresh report was allegedly made to the BNI which rounded up the suspects again and asked them to refund the money. An initial amount of 2 million CFA was recovered but the security officers insisted that the whole amount be refunded.

Sensing that they were not going to be treated with kid gloves they quickly refunded the remaining amount.

The victims' wailing gave way to smiles and gratitude to the BNI whose diligence and perseverance led to the recovery of the whole amount. Kudos and his sister narrating their story said they hold the BNI and the police in general in high esteem.

The black market in Accra is flourishing so much that one wonders whether it has now been legalized. The boom is to the disadvantage of the official forex bureax operators who have on many occasions cried out for government action against them.

In areas where the practice is rife, robbers find a fertile ground to operate. No wonder Cowlane, Zongo lane and Tudu have some of the highest crime rates in the city. In Tudu those who engage openly in the trade announce the various currencies like market women selling their wares at the market place. The most notorious of such places is the area opposite the gate to the Accra lorry station. The effect of the black market on the economy is well known, so it is surprising that it has been allowed to go on without any attempt to stem it.

For those who have lost confidence in our security system the story of the two Abidjan-based business people is evidence that all is not lost as there many who would do all that they can to brighten the image of the country.

Efforts to contact the particular officers who busted the deal yielded no results because the victims did not memorise their names.

Source: Accra Mail

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