“I don't mind the court returning the property but I think it is a tragedy for our drug enforcement efforts… and to say that I orchestrated his arrest is a stupid allegation” says Mr. K. B. Quantson, a former head of the Narcotics Control Board.
Mr. Quantson told the dailyEXPRESS in reaction to a publication in the 'New Punch' newspaper that he orchestrated the framing up of George Adu Bonsu (alias Benjilo) on drug charges that “it is complete nonsense… is he saying that the entire police administration, AG's department were against him? It was both the Board, police and the postal service that did the investigation and effected the arrest.”
Obviously angered by the smear campaign after a court had ordered the release of all properties confiscated after Benjilo's arrest and imprisonment, the former NACOB boss asked that “anybody who has interest should go and review the whole case and find out if it was orchestrated.”
Providing some background to Benjilo's arrest, Mr. Quantson who has captured the Benjilo case in his book 'Ghana: National Security' asked rhetorically “how can somebody who was set up drive the narcotics agents in his own car to the hotel where his Nigerian partners were waiting for the very parcel he was expecting from the postal service official?”
The 'New Punch' publication, which follows a court ruling returning the confiscated properties, accused the former drug enforcement chief, John Ndego and others of framing him up, adding that Benjilo never dealt in drugs.
The story also listed some of the judges, state attorneys and others who worked on the case as part of the plot.
But, Mr. Quantson who was for many years Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Head of Police CID and National Security Coordinator says despite many attempts at thwarting the investigations into Benjilo's case, the police & NACOB went ahead.
“He went on appeal and lost, went to the Supreme Court and lost and at the time I was leaving the Board he had applied for review... and has served his term, where is the evidence that he was framed up?”
Explaining that he has no emotional attachment to the case despite the attempts to destroy his reputation among others, the former security capo said the release of the properties is a tragedy.
According to him, once it is a court ruling, nothing can be done but added that it is intriguing that Benjilo himself never owned any property.
The court in its ruling said the seized properties did not belong to Benjilo but rather to his wife, son (said to be 5 years old at the time), his mother & Azumah Nelson.
Mr. Quantson says drug dealers/ barons by their modus operandi do not have properties registered in their names, asking how a 5-year old boy can own properties.
Strangely, the AG's department did not open its defence in the case brought by Benjilo for the release of the properties. Justice Victor Ofoe in ordering the release of the confiscated properties said the state did not open its defence and the order was being given based on evidence adduced by the plaintiff. It asked the state to pay interest on 1.1 billion cedis being the cost of goods in two of his shops and also awarded 50 million cedis cost against the state and 80 million cedis damages for unlawful seizure of the property.
In his book, the former security chief wrote that “The Narcotics Law, PNDC Law 32, is quite clear on property confiscation, in respect of persons convicted, it was expected that the necessary legal action would be instituted to that effect. After all, that is the most important aspect of the counter- narcotics effort worldwide. Depriving drug dealers of the fruit of their criminality is a cardinal pre-requisite in fighting the drug menace. Otherwise enforcement action becomes nonsensical.”
Giving details of & about Benjilo and his arrest, Mr. Quantson writes in Chapter 18 (The drugs cabal at work) of his latest book among others that during the investigations Benjilo and some faceless persons tried unsuccessfully to free themselves by making the same false allegation that he was framed up. This was after he (Benjilo) had made an attempt to offer a bribe of $70,000 which was rejected.
“As part of our counter-narcotics operations, we had monitoring arrangements with trained postal investigators for the identification of suspect postal packets from what is called 'source countries'… when one of such postal packets arrived, surveillance was placed on it to identify who the recipient would be for appropriate enforcement action.
When the receiver came to claim the parcel, he was identified to be an employee of the Postal Service. As the routine required, the parcel was opened for inspection. Expectedly, cocaine was ingeniously concealed in four large children's pictorial books. The recipient indicated that actually it was another postal official who requested him to claim the parcel for him.
So the parcel was resealed and the enforcement agents took the suspect to the supposed friend… he too led the team to the friend who happened to be Benjilo.
Benjilo took possession of the parcel and readily confirmed that indeed he had asked his friend to claim the parcel on his behalf. He too revealed, however, that actually the parcel did not belong to him, but to some Nigerian friends lodging at Golden Tulip.
… the whole operation was so professionally organised that aside from the first postal official arrested, none of the others suspected the involvement of law enforcement.
So, Benjilo himself rang the friends at the hotel but was told that they had left for his (Benjilo's) office. He thereafter took the team in his own vehicle to his office where the Nigerians admitted ownership. It was at that point that they were all arrested.
When Benjilo was sent to the office of the Board he panicked and asked Deputy whether I was in… in a clever way he asked to use the telephone to tell his wife to look into a drawer and bring the envelope containing US$70,000 to settle the case. Off course he was denied the use of the phone.
Benjilo was tried and convicted and jailed 10 years. He appealed and his appeal was dismissed. Then he sent the matter to the Supreme Court, where that appeal was thrown out. In between the arrest and trial, tremendous pressure was exerted on me from all over to drop the case against the suspect. I stood firm that the case should proceed.”