The Deputy Minister of Finance Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, has told the The New Weekend Crusading Guide in an exclusive interview that government of Ghana had instructed the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to investigate the smuggling scandal at Kofi Badu Krom in the Western Region of Ghana and its surrounding border towns.
Fiifi Kwetey told this paper in a telephone interview yesterday that government was not going to tolerate any feet dragging on the part of CEPS officials on the issue. He submitted that his Ministry would expect the Service to outline for government, the series of measures it would take to investigate the activities of these officials stationed at the borders.
He indicated that government would ask the National Security to put in place measures to ensure that all loopholes with regards the safeguarding of our borders were sealed.
Fiifi Kwetey therefore appealed to other equally nationalistic people to help with information on corrupt officials so that such activities would be nib in the bud.
The Deputy Minister however commended this paper for its piece of nationalistic work
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everything that must be done to ensure a full swing investigations must be encouraged because like you rightly said this a systemic difficulty so we feel this effort by you (Anas) and your paper is absolutely commendableÃ¢â‚¬Â the deputy minister said.
Asked whether it was not better to allow an independent probe in the matter the Minister said that if it was dissatisfied with what CEPS has done it would call for a bigger probe adding that they want to exhaust the CEPS internal mechanism and from there government would decide what to do.
Meanwhile CEPS yesterday issued a press release indicating that their outfit was going to investigate the matter and bring anybody found guilty to book. The same day when the release went out, their Public Relation boss Madam Anne Anipa had started telling the world that the evidence was on the video was inconclusive and did not suggest any fraud.
As at press time yesterday no member of CEPS had made efforts to contact our investigative reporter on the above subject, rather other state security institutions had made efforts to take copies of the video and engaged the reporter in conversations.
The reporter has on a number of radio stations indicated his preparedness to collaborate with CEPS officials if they wanted to get to the bottom of the exposÃƒÂ©.
It will be recalled that The New Crusading GUIDE on its Tuesday 5th – 11th May edition carried a story captioned Ã¢â‚¬Å“SMUGGLING SCANDAL UNCOVERED. Billions go down the drain as CEPS officials join smuggling syndicate to loot mother GhanaÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The story exposed the grave corruption at the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s boarder with La Cote d Ivoire in Kwame sie Krom, Gonokrom and Kofi Badu krom all in the Western Region where Custom, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) officials were recorded on video footage collecting monies from greedy businessmen in order to aid them smuggle tons of rice into the country without paying tax.
In the same story, our ace investigative reporter reveals how porous the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s frontiers were as indications of proliferation of smuggled arms; drugs and other illegal items into the country through Kwame Sie krom, Gono krom and Kofi Badu krom hidden in rice sacks were discovered.
Independent probe demanded
Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), a non partisan civil empowerment organization focused on anti corruption has added his voice to calls for an independent probe into the smuggling scandal.
For his part Vitus Azeem said Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦I think that this is a very serious matter and it affects not more than one individual. In fact, it affects the institution and it may not just even be the areas that you have covered so, it requires a larger investigations and it would have been better if CEPS allows for an independent body to carry out an investigation into the matter.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He indicated further that if CEPS investigates, no matter how well the job they do, peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perception may be different therefore, it would be better to get an independent body to investigate the details of the story so that the notion that the Services would investigate to cover their acts would be dispelled for the culprits to be brought to book.
Mr. Kwame Danso of Kumasi Polytechnic student told the paper that CEPS should not be allowed to investigate the matter because they would do everything to hide and shield their people from prosecution.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The step government has taken is a zero step, how can you tell CEPS to investigate itself, who does not know about the massive corruption there? How would people who have information on this fraud go to CEPS and report their own wrong conduct to them? I heard Madam Anne Anipa, head of Public Relations of CEPS already telling the world that the evidence of the reporter was inconclusive meaning they are already preparing to shield their staff from wrong doing. How could she take such a position before investigation. We have to be serious in this country, the best government could have done was to set up an independent probe to allay all suspicions of all on this massive fraud. And who said that the people in the head quarters of CEPS who have been tasked to investigate are also not involved?Ã¢â‚¬Â Kwame Danso queried.
Anita Baah of Brekum told this paper that, it was in the interest of CEPS to call for an independent probe: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The corruption perception index does not speak good about CEPS at all, they should not waste our time by investigating looking at the position the Public Relations woman has takenÃ¢â‚¬Â
Credit: Anas Aremeyaw Anas (The New Crusading Guide)