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19.11.2008 Crime & Punishment

11 Arrested For Dealing In Ivory

By Anita Nyarko - newtimesonline.com

ELEVEN artefact sellers were at the weekend arrested at the Arts Centre in Accra for allegedly possessing ivory in the country.

The suspects, who are currently on police enquiry bail, are Tahiru Haruna, 29, Mohammed Kabiru, 29, Rose Mensah, 25, Atta Issah, 30, and Razak Tahiru 18.

The others are Yakubu Benjamin, 45, Garba Ibrahim, 55, Musa Ali, 40, Jibril Alhassan 27, Yakubu Osman, 28, and Samaila Alahassan.

They are being charged under the Wildlife Conservation Regulation LI 685 of 1971 which makes it an offence for anyone to hunt, kill or possess any part of an elephant and crocodile which are protected animals.

The operation was carried out by a combined team of 15 Wildlife Officers, 80 police personnel, INTERPOL officials, Forestry Commission and Customs, Exercise and Prevention Service (CEPS).

Briefing the Times in Accra yesterday, the District Commander of the Ministries Police, ASP Fii Ochil, said the suspects were arrested on Saturday, November 15, in a clamp down.

During police interrogation, the suspects reportedly said their sources of supply were Cameroon, Gabon, Angola, Nigeria, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin.

He said the ivory would be sent to the laboratory to identify whether the products were real, before they will be put before court, he said.

Investigations were ongoing to discover the entry points of the items into the country, the Commander revealed.

ASP Ochil warned the public to desist from possessing illegal products, saying those found culpable will be prosecuted.

In an interview, the Executive Director of the Forestry Commission, Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah said the operation was the first in a series to help stem the tide of illegal trade in ivory products.

According to the Director, the exercise is being undertaken in five countries, namely, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Congo Brazzaville and Ghana to protect endangered animals.

“Ghana was the first country to have proposed a total ban on ivory trade as a means to protect and conserve elephants, he added.

He pointed out that the operation was on going, and called on the public, particularly those who have in their possession ivory products before the enactment of the law to register them with the Wildlife Department.

The Technical Advisor of INTERPOL, Harry Solinger, commended the team for their co-operation in the exercise, saying the exercise would help protect endangered species.

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