How Ghana Became Cocaine Coast


Ex-President John Kufuor has claimed parentage of Ghana’s oil. “The finds were during my administration. It was my administration that gave the bloc to the two companies that found the jubilee fields and joined it together to name it jubilee.
“It was under me, so I feel like a parent of the whole situation,” he claimed.
But this self-aggrandizing posture coincided with the release of the damning secret document from the United States of America and the United Kingdom, completely burying his regime in the narcotic drug business.
The document indicts ex-President Kufuor personally for doing next to nothing about the menace of the narcotic drugs as he appointed an inexperienced officer, Ben Botwe, to be in-charge of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), revealing that although the drug barons were known to the past regime, there was no plan to arrest them.
Rather, the system went after the couriers while information was given others to outwit security checks. Mr. Ben Botwe’s deputy at the time, Mr. Mark Ewuntomaah, was described as unresponsive and generally incompetent as he was unable to even organize a tour of the airport despite repeated promises.
The documents had mentioned Mark Ewuntomaah, being described by Gary Nicholls, Second Secretary at the British Embassy, as “a problem.” According to Nicholls, the then Secretary to the President, Ambassador D.K. Osei, had commented that Ewuntomaah should have stayed a retired police officer rather than being recalled to NACOB by the Kufuor regime.
However, independent checks by The Herald reveal that the Mr. Ben Botwe who was indicted, sometime last year over some financial malpractices together with ex-Chief Executive of the Food and Drugs Board, Kreremanten Agyarko, is still at home but his former deputy, Mark Ewuntomaah, is still at post and serving as the deputy to Mr. Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, who was appointed by the Mills Administration.
The confidential document was prepared by US and UK officials here in Ghana and sent to their home countries. It was released by the whistle-blowing Wikileaks which gave a clue as to how Ghana within diplomatic circles, was nicknamed Cocaine Coast under the Kufuor rein in replacement for the more enviable name Gold Coast.
The document was forwarded to the US by its former envoy to Ghana, Pamela E. Bridgewater, in October 2007. Ms. Bridgewater was most recently posted as the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica.
The damning document, however, did not capture very notable drug cases that happened under the watch of the Kufuor regime amongst which was how tonnes of cocaine which were in the custody of the Police at its headquarters in Accra were replaced with ‘Kokonte’ flour.
The arrest of the three NPP women at the Kotoka International Airport who were said to be executives of the Dzorwulu Constituency of the NPP and how their docket mysteriously got missing from either the Police files or the Attorney-General’s Department, is one of such drug cases not mentioned in the report.
The arrest of Amoateng was only mentioned faintly in the document.. But said in the light of punishment meted to officers at NACOB who helped gave out information to intelligence officers to nail Amoateng who is in prison in the US.
It also failed to make mention of the MV Benjamin cocaine lost from a shipping vessel at the Tema Harbour.
No mention was also made of the Venezuelan nationals who were arrested at East Legon with huge tonnes of cocaine and the allegations of bribery against the Police which characterized the arrest.
It also failed to mention how the Prampram Beach in the Greater Accra Region and some beaches in the Western Region were awash with parcels of cocaine sometime during the Kufour era.
Then it also did not talk about the release of frozen assets of one Raymond Amankwah by Nana Akufo-Addo when he was the Attorney-General. Amankwah is said to be Akufo Addo in-law.
A NACOB official said he expected the Kufuor Government of Ghana to do little to combat narcotics until after the 2008 presidential elections because the policy “was to go after couriers, but not the barons who are behind the deals.
The official claimed the barons are generally large supporters of the NPP and he suggested that the ruling party had no plans to pursue these individuals even though many of their identities are known”.
He even suggested that some of the barons had penetrated NACOB by recruiting NACOB officers to keep them informed. He also said that the British, with Operation Westbridge at the Accra Airport, were the only real forces attempting to apprehend smugglers.
He added that no one at NACOB wanted to rock the boat, including the new director, Ben Botwe, who lacks experience with narcotics enforcement and also lacked leadership. “Everyone spoken to concerning Ben Botwe, the current head of NACOB, had anything little positive to say”.
The document noted that he had spoken frequently about awareness programmes, and his comments had changed little “since our first meeting with him in June. In a conversation, he suggested he was ready to move on and made similar comments to British intelligence officers which was confirmed.
The senior official at NACOB confirmed these sentiments but despite his apparent desire to leave, it appears that Botwe will remain for at least another year since he was asked by the President to assume this role.
The secret document called cables, said that sources cited a lack of political will, while others said that the Government of Ghana failed to understand the magnitude of the crisis to fight the drug menace.
All stakeholders agreed that if the trend continued, Ghana was likely to see a corresponding rise in crime and drug abuse present in most transit countries.
It said: “Discussions with Ghanaian officials and Western diplomats paint a disappointing picture of the Ghanaian Government’s efforts to combat its increasing problem with illegal nar
cotics trafficking. Several GOG officials and others question whether Ghana’s leadership appreciates the magnitude of the problem and whether they have the will and/or resources to address the problem”.
A higher-ranking official, of NACOB said the body was motionless, the document said, pointing out that the official whose name was withheld said that the Government of Ghana effectively neutralized NACOB since the embarrassing arrest in the US of NPP MP Eric Amoateng in 2005.
All the high-ranking officials during that time were been removed. This was because the GOG was upset with NACOB since it co-operated closely with the USG on the case, which resulted in Amoateng’s guilty plea and subsequent imprisonment in the U.S.
It disclosed that conversations with the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Ghana Police, and diplomats revealed little confidence in NACOB and GOG efforts to battle the flow of narcotics.
“Without exception, each individual with whom we spoke said the problem was increasing and that the GOG is largely clueless as to how to combat it,” the UK and US investigators said.
One of the cables prepared during the early days of the Mills Administration said President John Atta Mills, was even worried that his own entourage may be smuggling drugs through his presidential lounge at Accra’s Kotoka Airport, and asked a senior UK customs official in November last year for help to screen them “in the privacy of his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs”.
“President Mills has stated that he is resolute in stopping people from using Ghana as a narcotics transit corridor and will vigorously fight for the total eradication of hard drugs in the country. So far, he has shown a good faith effort,” the cable said.
Source: The Herald