Eight officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), including a police officer, who were caught on camera in a recent investigative expedition embarked upon by ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, have been rounded up by the Criminal Investigative Unit of the Ghana Police Service.
The video recording, which has been widely aired on most television stations in the country and has attracted varied comments and reactions, including the number one man of the state, President John Evans Atta Mills, reveals a complex chain of cocoa smuggling syndicate at the country's borders, ably facilitated by officials of CEPS, the military, police and national security.
The footage shows CEPS and other security persons in uniform conspicuously and shamelessly engaged in bribery, and aiding and abetting smugglers to cart Ghana's cocoa across the border, to neighbouring Ivory Coast.
These officers aid the smugglers in crossing borders with bags of cocoa by finding suitable paths and contacts to enable them succeed. This is done in exchange for bribe money, most of which has been captured on video.
The investigations further revealed that some security officials from National Security, mandated to co-ordinate the efforts of other anti-smuggling security officers, equally engage in the smuggling spree. Additionally, Resources that were provided by government as part of anti-smuggling processes were used to assist the smugglers.
The investigation also revealed that Ivorian counterparts in the smuggling business are given free reign as they bribe farmers with gifts so that they are able to buy cocoa at lower prices in Ghana and resell it at higher market prices in Ivory Coast, which offers them unimaginable high profits. Some personnel of Local Buying Companies like Armajaro, Diaby and Transroyal were caught on video trying to help smuggle cocoa to Ivory Coast in order to get a higher price.
They buy in Ghana at the lower fixed price of GH¢138 (recently increased to GH¢150) before transporting it back to Ivory Coast and sell it at higher market price, which is as high as GH¢173.
According DSP Kwesi Fori, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana police service, the eight are in CID custody pending further investigations. He said as a democratic institution that upholds the rights of all citizens in the country, the police service will investigate the matter further and prosecute those involved if found culpable.