NACOB boss confirms wikileaks report; Pastors, Bankers may have transported cocaine
The Executive Secretary of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, has partially confirmed wikileaks' report of the abuse of the VVIP by persons close to officialdom under the erstwhile New Patriotic Party government of President John Kufuor.
He said some pastors and their wives, bank managers and their wives in 2007/08 made use of the VVIP and probably might have transported cocaine out of the country.
Wikileaks, a website dedicated to disclosing diplomatic secrets worldwide, published details of correspondence between the US Embassy here in Ghana and the US State Department on drug related issues in Ghana from 2007-2009.
The publication made some damning revelation about how officials of NACOB had been compromised by drug barons and how the Kufuor administration lacked political will in fighting the drug menace.
The report also made specific reference to the abuse of the VVIP lounge at the Kotoka International Airport in 2008 and the possibility of it being used for the narcotic trade.
In 2009, the report commended the Mills administration's effort in fighting the canker but revealed that Mills had confided in the former US Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum that some of his officials had been compromised by the drug barons.
The report also quoted the President as saying his officials should be searched at the VVIP in private in order not for the country to be hit by unnecessary narcotic surprises.
Reacting to the wikileaks publication, the Executive Director of NACOB told Joy FM's Sammy Darko his outfit has never been compromised by drug barons, at least under his tenure.
Quoting cables of the wikileaks publication in 2007/08, Mr Akrasi Sarpong said "all the negative things that have been mentioned are things that happened before 2009."
Describing wikileaks' publication as a “combination of truths, half truths and peoples own personal perceptions,” the NACOB boss said the bit about the abuse of the VVIP cannot be contested.
“We have been concerned about the fact that when the new government took over we recognized as our own anti narcotic audit showed that too many people who we believe are not entitled to the use of other service passports or diplomatic passports which include a lot of pastors and their wives, a lot of people who were bank managers… and people who were closely associated with officialdom had access to the VVIP lounge without the necessity of them to have that privilege of that passport," Mr Akrasi-Sarpong stated.
“…In the course of the audit our conclusion was that it was most probable that it was part of people taking advantage of those passport [to engage in illicit drugs trade]," he added.
“They could easily have gone through with drugs… and that was why for the first time we put NACOB officials at the VVIP to give us the register of the people who pass through the place so that we can do a background check,” The NACOB Official revealed.
He could not however confirm the discussion the president allegedly had with the former US Ambassador.
But an aide to the president, Stan Dogbe, has said President Mills has made demonstrable efforts in fighting the drug menace and the wikileaks report gives credence to the efforts by the NDC administration.
A former Attorney General under the erstwhile Kufuor administration called for a bipartisan approach in fighting the canker.
Papa Owusu Ankomah said he does not believe there has been any concrete steps made in the fight against drugs trade and urged the Mills administration to strengthen the institutional framework in fighting the canker.
Play the attached audio for excerpts of the interview
Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana