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23.03.2009 Politics

JJ boys chase cars

By Daily Guide

One of ex-President Rawlings' former bodyguards but now part of President Atta Mills' security detail, last Friday created a scene at the Achimota Motorway shell fuel station where he was embroiled in an abrasive altercation with a driver of a vehicle he claimed belonged to former President John Agyekum Kufuor's official fleet.

He therefore insisted that the car must be returned to the Castle. The bodyguard exerted his Castle-derived authority, breathing fire and brimstone.

Even as they muttered among themselves, the curious onlookers could not intervene in the unfolding spectacle, fearing for their lives should the “powerful man” pull his pistol from its holster.

The encounter attracted many passersby, some of whom openly complained about the continuing car seizure in the country and its attendant; crudeness.

The car, unknowing to the driver, was under the surveillance of the Castle security detail, which was recently described by an MP during a parliamentary deliberation as a “car seizing syndicate”.

As soon as it was ripe to strike, Angola, as the bodyguard is fondly known by his colleagues and others, descended on the driver as he sought a forceful possession of the vehicle after trailing it from the Ridge office of the former President.

The ensuing exchange of words attracted a horde of curious persons, at a time when the Castle car seizing exercise is common knowledge.

The car seizing syndicate is allegedly under the command of Victor Smith, Director of Protocol at the Presidency, Osu Castle. Victor was the first Mills official to embark on such an exercise when he led a team of commandos to forcibly take cars from former officials of the last administration at the time handing over had not been concluded.  

Last Friday however, Angola, backed off when he realized the driver would not budge, but threatened that he and his colleagues will retrieve all state vehicles in the fleet of the former President and his security personnel.

Angola was in the news last year when during a visit by then President Kufuor to Cape Coast for the town's Fetu Afahye festival, he engaged in a physical encounter with state security operatives.

The encounter was prompted by the insistence of Mills' bodyguard to accompany then flagbearer of the NDC to the restricted portion of the festival ground where President Kufuor and others were seated.

He appears not to have forgiven the state security operatives who used minimum force to stop him and other 'machomen' from crossing the red line at the festival.

The National Security apparatus at the time issued a statement explaining that private security operatives were subservient to the state's at all public functions.

Meanwhile information reaching DAILY GUIDE suggests that three Ford vehicles in former President Kufuor fleet will soon join the three BMWs which the National Security apparatus recovered from the former First Gentleman.

It is not known why these vehicles are being targeted after the possession of the BMWs- an action which was explained as necessitated by national security concerns.

In the heat of the exchanges over the propriety or otherwise of the re-possession of the cars, it would be recalled that the former President let-go of the vehicles, thus drawing the curtains over a subject which remained number one on the political chart for a few but momentous weeks.

The controversial Ridge office accommodation for former President Kufuor, which like the BMWs, is the subject of varied accusations and counteraccusations by both the incumbent administration and the constitutionally retired head of state, could follow a similar path of being 'taken back' soon, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.

Former President Kufuor is likely going to withdraw his interest from the office facility, an action which political observers think would be inimical to the de-polarisation dream President Mills had promised the nation.

National Security Coordinator, Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, has already served notice of his plans to dispossess former President Kufuor of what he described as security gadgets belonging to the state.

The ongoing actions are therefore pointing towards the 'We are in charge' direction.

After a lull, the car seizing syndicate appears to have been re-activated as another official of the past government lost his Land Cruiser cross country vehicle to the Castle boys in the middle of last week or so.

Hon Kwasi Ankama, MP for Atiwa constituency in the Eastern Region and former Special Assistant to former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, told DAILY GUIDE that the vehicle was seized from a mechanic's workshop at Haatso near Legon.

The vehicle, he said was a written-off one and he purchased it through the normal auction procedure for acquiring such automobiles.

“I would not have bought it but for the encouragement I got from my mechanic who assured me that the damaged vehicle could be salvaged which he eventually did,” he said.

While the vehicle was still in the custody of the mechanic at Haatso, some Castle security operatives spotted it from an adjacent workshop where they were repairing the exhaust system of their car, he told DAILY GUIDE.

They descended on the workshop demanding the ownership of the vehicle which they suspected to belong to the state.

Like other vehicles which come under the security radar of the Castle, no amount of explanation could convince the operatives not to move it away.

The former Special Assistant to Kwadwo Mpiani, finding the action unseemly, marched to the offices of the National Security, which is an extension of the Office of the President with the necessary papers.

He succeeded in convincing an official at the Castle annex, said to be the Second-In-Command to Gbevlo-Lartey, the National Security Coordinator, that the vehicle was genuinely acquired.

Even after satisfying the official with all the required documentation, Hon Ankamah could not recover his vehicle immediately but asked to return today.

It is not known whether he would take possession of the vehicle when he makes his appearance at the Castle Annex.

By A.R. Gomda