No $30m Cocaine! At Tema Port- Customs

Mr. Confidence Nyadzi

There is no cocaine missing at the Tema Port after thorough investigations have been conducted, the Sector Commander of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Confidence Nyadzi, has claimed.

He rubbished media report on alleged missing cocaine, describing it as ‘misleading and groundless’ in an interview with DAILY GUIDE yesterday.

Mr Nyadzi stated that the report on the supposed 500 kilograms of cocaine with a reported street value of about $30 million said to have disappeared from the Port was based on suspicion with no foundation whatsoever.

According to him, “We have done investigation, BNI has done its investigation, NACOB is doing its investigation. It is expected that we will know what exactly the story is – whether there is cocaine at all or not. On authority, I can tell you that I’m not aware of any cocaine shipment. I’m the head of Customs at the Tema Port and I’m not aware of cocaine shipment. I am telling you categorically that I am not aware of any missing cocaine at Tema Port. If somebody says so perhaps he has some facts I don’t have and so the person should bring the facts.”

Mr. Nyadzi pointed out that thorough investigations conducted by the entities named, the Ministry of the Interior and other sector institutions revealed that no container with cocaine had been detained at the Port.

“My brother, there is no truth in that report. You have been here over the same matter before. I can tell you that there is no truth in that reportage. This matter has been dealt with at the office of the Minister of the Interior with the commissioner of customs, the ex-commissioner, John Vianney, I, NACOB and other relevant stakeholders.

“We looked at all the issues involved, as to whether there was a cocaine missing or not. I don’t think anybody can tell you that. And I’m telling you that the report is misleading. There was no cocaine in Tema Port in anybody’s custody which got missing,” Mr. Nyadzi insisted.

Missing Cocaine

A media report on Friday suggested that 10 bags of cocaine hidden in a consignment of rice with an estimated street value of about $30 million had vanished from the Tema Port under mysterious circumstances.

The said container, the publication indicated, was detained on December 2016 after a ship carrying some containers with cocaine on board arrived at the Tema Port in December 2016 from Suriname, but the suspected cocaine vanished before February 23, 2017 when all stakeholders conducted compulsory tests on the container.

The report indicated that it was the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with Surinamese authorities who alerted the NACOB on October 24, 2016, of a ship from Suriname in Central America that was allegedly carrying the said cocaine to the Tema Port.

According to the publication, agencies that were present during the opening of the container for testing were the NACOB, K9 Unit (Special Dogs Academy), UK’s Operation West Bridge Officials, BNI, CEPS, National Security, US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).

It said investigations indicated that when the ship arrived, the identification of containers selected for sampling were: FSCU-7559200, IRNU-2610834, CCLU-3224764, TRHU-1653800 and TRLU-8778855 and added that “all these were 20-footer containers and each contained 550 bags of white long grain rice according to the bill of lading.”

The report stated that K9 dogs, which are specially trained to detect cocaine, confirmed traces of cocaine in the said container, while UK’s Operation West Bridge also conducted sampling by the use of itemizers which also confirmed traces of cocaine.

According to the report, a separate investigation conducted on the suspected missing cocaine by the BNI, NACOB and Customs had been submitted to the Interior Minister and the Attorney General’s Office.

However, the Chief Revenue Officer in-charge of Investigations, Samuel Arthur, explained further that the agent of the shipment – Global Cargo Limited – together with the importer, were arrested over the matter but they were later released after investigations.

He posited that NACOB denied Customs intelligence until the containers were cleared by the agent when they came out with the cocaine matter.

“If NACOB had given Customs information earlier over the consignment, we could have halted the clearing of the container; but they kept the information to themselves and refused to disclose it.

“We did our work diligently as Customs and we released the cargos to the owner, who came for them in splits under the explanation he doesn’t have the financial scrap to clear all the 5 cargos which came with a single bill of laden, but had to be amended for the cargos to be cleared,” the Chief Investigator stated.

Meanwhile, management of the Tema Port has insisted that it has no knowledge of containers concealed with alleged cocaine.

According to management, it only received a letter from a Joint Port Control Unit (JPCU) directing it to halt the release of the five containers, but later Customs requested that one of the containers should be sent to another centre of the port – the Golden Jubilee Terminal (GJT) – for some testing.

Public Affairs Manager of Tema Port, Joana Adda, told DAILY GUIDE that her outfit was only informed through the letter that the containers were carrying rice.

She underscored, “The unit further requested that the said boxes would have to go through scanning before they are conveyed to the Golden Jubilee Terminal. The letter to GPHA did not state the reason for that directive. The letter did not indicate that cocaine was concealed in one of the containers.”

 

From Vincent Kubi, Tema

 

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