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22.11.2005 General News

Tighten mode of vetting into political office - MP

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Accra, Nov. 22, GNA - Dr Mustapha Ahmed, NDC MP for Ayawaso East, on Tuesday said there was the need to tighten the mode of vetting people nominated for higher positions of State so that people with shady characters could be flushed out early.

Dr Ahmed said the arrest of Mr Eric Amoateng, NPP MP for Nkoranza North for smuggling heroin to the United States would affect the image of the nation, which would lead to State officials as well as ordinary Ghanaians being subjected to embarrassing searchers and interrogations at European and US ports of entry.

"It is a sad moment for Ghana's Parliament and the nation in general."

He said it is unfortunate that a Member of Parliament (MP), who has been elected to help enact laws in the country, should find himself in such a situation.

Dr Ahmed said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the alleged smuggling of narcotic drug involving Mr Amoateng. "For an MP, who is supposed to help in the upbringing of the youth, to be involved in such a serious crime as heroin smuggling must be condemned."

He said heroin medically is one of the psychosomatic drugs with a high addictive tendencies, which affected the brain and when continually used could lead to death.

"It is a drug which users would need to increase the dosage anytime they use it before getting the feeling or high desired, making it a very addictive drug."

He said the position of an MP surpasses wealth and that it was a position that was used to fight for the well being of the people and to advance their lives.

"To be in political authority and to look for wealth through drugs is abominable."

"This incident should be a caution for those in high office to be wary of their activities.

The Office of Parliament said on Monday it was investigating allegations of drug trafficking against its member from Nkoranza North. A statement from the Public Affairs Directorate of the Office of Parliament said the member, Mr Eric Amoateng, was given permission to attend to a personal business in the US from the November 9 to November 24 and the information regarding his alleged involvement in the drug trafficking scandal in New York was rather unfortunate.

It said the Office was yet to receive any formal information from the Ghana Embassy through the Foreign Affairs Ministry on the alleged scandal and gave the assurance that it would immediately inform the public on any relevant information.

Meanwhile, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Monday distanced itself from the alleged drug smuggling by Mr Amoateng, who is the NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkoranza North, saying it was a reckless and perilous adventure by an individual for which the Party should not be responsible.

"The New Patriotic Party is surprised, shocked and saddened by this development, if indeed, Mr Eric Amoateng has been involved in this criminal conduct," it said in a statement signed by Mr Harona Esseku, NPP Chairman.

"The NPP wishes to dissociate itself, without reservation, from this crime."

The statement said official information had been received by the government from the US to the effect that Mr Amoateng had been arrested in connection with drug trafficking in the US.

"A conduct of this nature is harmful to the image of the Party, Parliament and the Nation and we consider it deplorable and unpardonable.

"We hope the matter will be dealt with appropriately and that the law will take its normal course, both in the USA and in Ghana." Mr Amoateng and Nii Okai Adjei were arrested in the US on November 12 when they allegedly picked up a shipment of 136 pounds of heroin with a street value of more than six million dollars concealed on crates of pottery.

They were arrested at a Staten Island storage facility where they had begun dismantling the crates, according to Martin Ficke, special agent in charge of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The men flew to New York from Accra on November 10, a day after the shipment of heroin arrived in seven crates of pottery from London, Ficke said.

They picked up the crates the following day at John F. Kennedy International Airport and drove them to the Staten Island storage facility.

Customs agents examined the crates at Newark (NJ) Liberty International Airport and discovered the heroin, which is one of the largest shipments in recent memory.

They were arraigned on November 14 on charges of conspiracy with intent to distribute heroin and were held without bail.

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