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24.04.2007 General News

Coke turns into ‘kokonte’

By myjoyonline

The cocaine racket that has hit the Police administration has taken a ludicrous twist following the outcome of forensic tests carried out on recently seized drugs.

The Chronicle newspaper says it has gathered that tests conducted on the substance, which was believed to be cocaine that was captured in an operation conducted in Tema by a group of officers from the Monitors Unit at the Accra Regional Police command, have proved negative.

Sources at the Police Headquarters hinted the paper that the parcel of the substance, when sent to the Crime Laboratory for a forensic test had turned out to be what is known in Ghanaian parlance as Kokonte (cassava flour).

The paper had reported that some officers at the Monitors Unit had gone for an operation in Tema upon a tip-off and returned to their command base with a parcel of what was supposed to be the narcotic substance that had been captured in the operation.

It later emerged that the actual quantity that was captured by the peace officers was more than one parcel and so questions were raised about the whereabouts of the remaining parcels.

Subsequently, a civilian, Richard Ackon Mensah, was arrested by officials of the National Criminal Investigations Department, attempting to sell cocaine at Nyamekye, a suburb of Accra, which he later confessed was given to him by a member of the Monitors Unit, Lance Corporal Russell Ekow, who was part of the team that went for the operation in Tema.

Meanwhile, at the same time Ekow had been given a 10-day period to produce a suspect named Sebastian, who had been arrested in the Tema operation, for negligently allowing him to escape while he was escorting him from the Labadi Police cells to the Regional Headquarters in Accra.

At the moment, officials of the Accra Regional Police Headquarters have decided to keep mum on the issue on the grounds that the whole issue about the cocaine racket had been referred to the national Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters for investigations.

Some of the top hierarchy in the Accra Regional office had expressed ignorance on the drug racket with the explanation that they were not investigating the cocaine issue but rather were investigating how Ekow who went for the operations had negligently left Sebastian loose.

About two weeks ago, the Accra Regional Commander, DCOP Douglas Akrofi Asiedu told reporters of the paper at his office that he was not aware of issues related to the cocaine but said what he was aware of was that Ekow had been given a 10-day ultimatum to produce the suspect. "So what I know is about the jail break for enquiry," he added.

DCOP Akrofi said he had heard the CID headquarters had arrested Ekow on a drug-related matter but that was not under his domain.

The Accra Regional Crime Officer, Mr. Boi Bi Boi, when contacted last Sunday, was emphatic that he was not aware of the details of the cocaine case and that it was a matter in the hands of the National CID.

The Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Clemence Dompreh told The Chronicle in an interview that he was not aware of the cocaine testing negative but what he was aware of was that the case was under investigations by the CID.

"I am not aware about the cocaine testing negative. What I am telling you is that I am not aware of anything you are asking me of. The fact I know about is that the case is being handled by the CID headquarters" he told The Chronicle.

Meanwhile, Chronicle sources have expressed shock at the attitude of the police insisting that there had been a directive, which instructed that all forensic reports should be forwarded to their various Regional headquarters, where such requests were made from.
Suspicions are high that the cocaine turned into Kokonte in the hands of the police, since part of the cocaine that was captured by the CID, when it arrested Richard at Nyamekye proved positive at the spot testing.

It is believed that either the parcel that was submitted by the officers on the Monitors Unit were substituted with the Kokonte and presented as part of the exhibits found in the operation or the cocaine turned into Kokonte after submission to their bosses in the office.

The Chronicle has received a secret signal from the Police Headquarters that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong is fuming at the cocaine racket in the police service and has therefore instructed the CID to investigate the issue meticulously without fear or favour.

The sources said the Police Chief was ready to deal with any officer who is involved in the case.

Chronicle further efforts to contact the Operations Director of the CID, ACP Charles Tokor proved futile as he was said to be engaged when the paper's reporter got through to his cell phone on two occasions. One Alhassan, who responded to the phone call on one occasion, assured getting back to the paper but as at press time, no one had called.

Meanwhile, seven officers from the Monitors Unit at the Accra Regional command were on Monday escorted by their colleagues to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters for interrogation on their alleged involvement in the racket.