Former NPP Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North, Eric Amoateng, is expected to be released Tuesday after serving a seven-year jail term in the United States.
He was arrested on December 11, 2005 for illegal possession of 136 pounds of heroin in the United States. The street value of the drugs was about $6 million.
The convict was then sentenced to a 10-year jail term by a US court presided over by Judge David G. Tragger on December 12, 2007.
Amoateng’s seat became vacant and so, the then Speaker of Parliament, Ebenezer Sekyi-Hughes, directed on January 30, 2007, that the question of Amoateng’s long absence from parliament be revisited.
Amoateng, however, sent a resignation letter dated 4 February 2007 to the Speaker, which was accepted.
By-elections were finally held on March 13, 2007 and Major Derrick Oduro (Retired) won to replace Amoateng, 16 months after his arrest.
Amoateng had travelled to the USA on an Emirates Airline flight to the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) with a friend, Nii Okai Adjei.
The trip, according to reports, was ostensibly to buy wrist watches for resale in Ghana with $9,000 seized from Amoateng.
They were charged with “conspiracy with intent to distribute heroin”.
Eric Amoateng and Nii Okai Adjei initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to distribute narcotics when brought to court.
Adjei later changed his plea to guilty. Following this, a second charge was brought against Amoateng.
In August 2006, a third charge of “distributing a controlled narcotic substance of about a kilogram or more containing heroin” was brought against Amoateng. On March 19, 2007, Amoateng changed his plea to guilty.
He was sentenced on 12 December 2007 to 10 years in jail.
Seven boxes of pottery which had landed at Newark Liberty International Airport from London, destined for JFK a day earlier were found to contain 136 pounds of heroin.
The reported street value of the drugs was about US$6 million.
Amoateng and Adjei were monitored by security personnel as they took delivery of the cargo and sent it to an American Self-Storage location on Staten Island.
They were arrested the next day when they went to inspect the goods. Amoateng apparently unsuccessfully claimed diplomatic immunity following his arrest.
Profile of the man, Eric Amoateng
Eric Amoateng was born in Ghana on February 19, 1953. He had his secondary education at Nkoranza Anglican School, Nkoranza, where he passed his O-levels.
He then attended the Nkoranza Training College, Nkoranza for his A-level education, completing in 1973. He further attended the Nkoranza Teacher Training College from where he qualified as a teacher.
Years later, he went to the University of Ghana, obtaining a diploma in religion in 1992.
Eric Amoateng unsuccessfully bid to stand as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP candidate for the Nkoranza constituency in 2000 amidst some controversy.
Some were reportedly wary of his affluence. It is also reported that in 2001, Amoateng was once accused of visa fraud.
Amoateng renounced his chieftaincy in 2004 in order to stand in the December 2004 parliamentary elections on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Mr. Amoateng adopted Bomini in neighbouring Nkoranza North constituency in the Nkoranza District as his home town.
His candidacy for the Nkoranza North constituency was challenged at the Sunyani High Court in 2004 but the case was eventually withdrawn from the court.
He won 46.9 per cent of the votes with a margin of 22.3 per cent to become the first ever Member of Parliament for the newly created Nkoranza North constituency, from January 7, 2005.
Following his arrest, there was a long debate as to whether Amoateng should still be held as the sitting MP for Nkoranza North.
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip, maintained that “until the case is disposed off he remains a suspect and that the allegation would have to be substantiated.
While the majority leader in parliament announced that the government will hold the fort for the MP, the opposition insisted that a by-election be held to replace him. This went on for more than ten months.
One of his sons, Augustine Akwasi Amoateng, defended his father’s innocence in April, 2006.
Amoateng eventually sent a letter of resignation around May 2006 to parliament but this was thrown out on procedural grounds.
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