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Opinions Sun, 10 Jan 2016

I Smell Something Fishy Here

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

Garden City, New York

Dec. 28, 2015

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

Reports that Customs Officers at Ghana’s eastern border with Togo have impounded a vehicle carrying at least 1 million bullets or munitions cartridges are disturbing enough (See “Vehicle Carrying 1 Million Bullets into Ghana Arrested” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/28/15). But what is even more alarming is the accompanying report – as of this writing – that the three men who are suspected to have shipped the munitions into the country from either Togo or Nigeria, somehow, managed to escape being promptly arrested and put into custody by Customs Officials or armed Border Guards.

Actually, there is no specific mention about the presence of armed Border Guards at the Aflao checkpoint. This is an assumption that I am making purely based on the historical fact that the country’s busiest landed border checkpoint has always been equipped with well-armed security operatives from the Border Guard Division of the Ghana Armed Forces.

We are told that the bullet cartridges were discovered to have been hidden on the floor of a vehicle whose licensed registration number is given as KTU 444 but not its make or model [As of this press preparation, however, the photograph of what appeared to be a Mercedes Benz truck had been published alongside of some versions of this story]. But even more significantly, we are also informed that the same vehicle has crossed into Ghana from Togo at least six times prior to its being impounded by the Aflao Customs Officials. And so one can almost be certain that at least an equal amount of munitions have already been imported into the country.

What we need to know about this breaking news event is the owner of the vehicle, as well as the country in which it was registered; and then as well, the number of owners through whose hands the vehicle might have passed, and the identities and nationalities of these pre-/fore-owners as well. We need to also know specifically the country from which these munitions were imported. Merely speculating about their either having been shipped from Togo or Nigeria brings no comfort whatsoever. In sum, we need to get to the bottom of this matter!

That this revelation is coming to light on the threshold of a momentous election year, makes it all the more likely that some unconscionable and reckless political operatives may well be behind this entire racket. Not to unduly politicize an event that may be purely criminal, but it also bears observing the fact that the Aflao township, located in the Anlo-Ewe enclave of the Volta Region, the virtually hermetic political and electoral stronghold of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), where electoral irregularities of apocalyptic proportions have been recently uncovered, involving the deliberately orchestrated bloating of the country’s voters’ register, with the names and vital statistics of some 80,000 Togolese nationals by a crackerjack team of forensics experts led by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the 2016 Vice-Presidential Candidate of the country’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), makes this security-breaching incident all the more disturbing.

We also sincerely don’t believe that the criminal suspects behind this racket, all three of them, could have so easily taken to their heels in apparent full view of heavily armed Border Guards and Customs Officers. We need to know precisely under what circumstances the three suspects managed to escape prompt arrest and detention. Very likely, a highly influential figure with close connections to some powerful operatives within the National Democratic Congress must have facilitated the alleged escape of these suspects. As of this writing, it clearly appeared that the real story behind this incident was just beginning to unfold. Which means that we have reasonable expectation to learn about even more shocking details vis-à-vis this epic gun-running scheme. President John Dramani Mahama and his associates and minions had better come clean on this. There may even be some nexus between this incident and the recent changes in the leadership of the Ghana Armed Forces announced by the President.

We are also fully aware of the fact that the President and his vice are desperate to hang on to power by hook or crook. Recently, for instance, Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur indicated this much when the former Bank of Ghana governor addressed some members of the Tertiary Education Institutional Network (TEIN) on the campus of Cape Coast University. According to a visibly distraught Mr. Amissah-Arthur, three years into their largely lackluster tenure, more than 50-percent of Ghanaian voters had yet to decide whether to retain the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress at the helm of the country’s affairs. Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur may well be dangerously testing the capacity of longsuffering Ghanaians to tolerate gross electoral abuse and patently undeserved application of raw intimidation as a central plank of the Mahama/Amissah-Arthur Election 2016 Campaign Agenda. It remains to be seen whether such crude political gimmickry would work.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame