31.01.2008 General News

Interior Minister Advises NACOB Officials

By Zakari Musah (ISD)
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The Minister for the Interior, Mr Kwamena Bartels, yesterday, charged the officials of Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), especially those at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and other vantage points to be more imaginative in order to devise a strategy to counteract drug dealers in the country.

He has, therefore, assured NACOB for better salary and conditions of service in order 'Not to be excited and be tempted' to endulge in the drugs deal.

Mr Bartels was speaking at the closing ceremony of a 3-week Airport Operation Training for 13 NACOB officers here in Accra. The course was organised by NACOB in collaboration with WESTBRIDGE team of United Kingdom (UK), an international organisation that sees to Airport Operations to deal with drugs trafficking.

Mr Bartels, said, government was committed to ensuring that the country does not become the entry point for hard drugs. He, therefore, expressed the government's appreciation to the United Kingdom Government for its continued support to the country, adding that the training was very important and would go a long way in reducing the drug menace in the country.

In the same vein, the Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Nana Obiri Boahene, noted that the collaboration between Ghana Government and the UK Government under the Operation Westbridge, had led to many arrests with 97 cases recorded at the KIA, between March 2006 and December 2007 resulting in the arrest of 115 individuals.

He said 69 were Ghanaians and 46 foreign nationals. In addition, 46 drug suspects were convicted to sentences ranging between 10 to 15 years for narcotic drug related offences. The Minister of State explained that quantities of cannabis were also intercepted in parcels sent through courier services.

Nana Obiri noted that Operation West Bridge which is a joint initiative between NACOB and Her Majesty Revenue Customs was launched in the last quarter of 2006. 'It is an operational initiative between the two agencies to tackle the rising incidence of Ghana being used as a transit point for drugs into the UK in particular and Europe as a whole.'

A Representative of the British High Commissioner, Madam Rosie Tapper, Second Secretary at the British High Commission in Ghana, commended the Ghana Government for its efforts in trying to combat the drug menace in the country.

She observed that Ghana maintained a good reputation of stability and it was important to maintain that reputation by making sure that the drug menace did not get out of hand in the country.

Madam Rosie said the UK Government was doing its best to ensure that hard drugs become less available in the UK market.

The Executive Secretary of NACOB, Mr Ben Botchway, said as part of ensuring good service delivery, 80 personnel were recruited last year through a strict recruitment procedure to ensure good work..

The NACOB Board Chairman, General Joshua Hamidu, who chaired the function, bemoaned the alarming rate of young people at the Psychiatric Hospitals with mental disorder as a result of the use of hard drugs out of ignorance.

He therefore, urged NACOB to ensure that the country gets out of the terrible drug situation.

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