BY Saturday November 19, rumours had already started spreading, at least within certain opposition circles, that a top government official was the person who allegedly sponsored the 62 kilograms of heroine that has led to the arrest of Eric Amoateng, MP, in the United States.
The name making the rounds was that of the Foreign Minister, Nana Akufo-Addo, a man who had never even set eyes on the Nkoranza MP. A very reliable source close to the National Democratic Congress actually came to the house of this paper's Editor-in-Chief to give him the news on Sunday November 20. Like a joke, they both laughed it off. But, the propaganda fire had already been lit. And this was all before the confirmed news hit the headlines the following Monday that “MP Arrested in US for $6m Drugs”.
What was clear from the onset was that there was a deliberate and elaborate propaganda scheme to 'sink' the governing party along with the $6m drug bust. The (Crystal Clear) Lens of November 21 gave the hint: “AT LAST THE EVIDENCE IS HERE – NPP MP IS BUSTED – WHO IN THE NARCOTIC PEDDLERS PARTY IS NEXT IN LINE”. The story started: “Many Ghanaians have long suspected that high up the echelon of the ruling NPP party/Government exists [sic] a crack drugs dealing syndicate… A source close to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement related how when the noose was tightening around [Amoateng's] neck, the 'Prominent Ghana Government Official' started pleading that he was a member of the ruling party in Ghana and started disclosing names of top government officials who are privy to the operations.”
The story, which referred to a 'Golden Age of Drugs Peddling', continued, “The Lens can also confirm that the DEA has in its possession names and numbers of top officials of the NPP who just like the DEA did in the case of Eric Amoateng, are also being kept on the DEA radar.”
That Monday report in The Lens virtually confirmed what the NDC source told our Editor-in-Chief at the weekend. The paper added, “In particular is the name and number of a top government official (a Minister and MP) who had introduced Eric Amoateng into the drug business.”
This story, like many others generated about the case, found its way onto the internet. Surfing the net in far away England was a man who held grand delusions of his own. But little could Ghanaians guess what his next move was to be.
During that week, Ama Benyiwa-Doe and Harunna Iddrissu were among leading members of the NDC who sought to give some credibility to the rumours by suggesting there could be many more NPP leaders involved.
Radio Gold's Konkonsa is said to have mentioned that an MP member of a royal family who wears glasses was part of the NPP drug ring.
Bizarre as this may sound, the propaganda machines were churning out the name of a man the NDC papers themselves describe as being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The attack on Nana Akufo-Addo, the first son of a former President of Ghana, heated up after his rare appearance on Paul Adom Otchere's Good Evening Ghana. The date was Thursday November 10; same day that the budget was read; same day that Raymond Archer paid a “friendly” visit to NPP Chairman Harona Esseku.
On that programme the Foreign Minister declared his intention to run as presidential candidate for the NPP once the race begins. That very weekend, former President Rawlings launched a curious attack at Koforidua on the MP for Abuakwa South and his late mother. This was followed by other front-page attacks in the NDC papers; and repeated Rawlings attacks in Kumasi. In far away England that middle-aged man, suspected to be suffering from psychosis, announced that he was the lawyer of the arrested MP for Nkoranza North. A serial caller to Ghanaian community radio stations, with pedigree, who speaks well and claims to be a legal practitioner, he got in touch with Nana Sefa Twum of Kasapa Radio, London, who also strings for the Daily Graphic and had discussed working for the Chronicle when he met Kofi Coomson, the publisher, on the campus of Middlesex University, London. Nana Darko Busia and the London-based reporter have been communicating for about a year without ever meeting.
So from Tuesday November 22, the reports started flying in from London: “Heroin MP Drags 12 More Down in UK, Canada;” “Drug MP's Men arrested in Canada.” The source of this information, despite the reporter stating it was from a “source close to the investigation team”, was Nana Darko Busia, who was also busily surfing ghanaweb.com and other sites for information to build up his brief as a “lawyer” for the arrested MP.
Joy FM, which already had a reporter in Washington, got into the act. Their reporter Kofi Abotsi contacted Radio Gold in Accra to get the number of Nana Kwadwo Darko Busia. His reports sent the nation's temperature further up. He filed a report from the US saying that some of the 12 arrested were on the US government's terrorist list. According to the Joy reporter, names of some key Ghanaian politicians had also been mentioned.
Our subsequent investigations disclosed that all the stories amounted to a hoax and came from Nana Darko Busia, who was not even a lawyer. Also, we found that he had 'tuned' into opposition rumours back home that certain top government officials were involved and then went ahead to make that 'official', through the ever-willing wavelength of Joy FM.
Indeed, by Tuesday November 23, GHP had posted on ghanaweb.com: “Already one Ghanaian newspaper claims, the MP for Nkoranza North is 'in no mood to go down alone. Like a squealer, Eric is said to be ready to say it all.'” Nana Darko Busia couldn't have missed this; he used this to strike the blow that finally exposed him and the unsavoury rumours about top government officials.
What was also worrying was that, according to Kofi Abotsi's own confession, Nana Darko Busia did not mention any names of government officials in the interview, yet in his story for Joy Kofi Abotsi said he was aware of two names. He also had access to the internet.
By last week, the open secret in town was that there were two lawyers, both MPs. That same source of our Editor-in-Chief close to the NDC told him that the names being circulated were that of the Foreign Minister, and Second Deputy Speaker, Freddy Blay.
According to sources close to Freddy Blay, he was so shocked by the rumour that he was just daring the NDC papers to come out with his name. When the Foreign Minister was contacted he simply said he did not even know how the Nkoranza MP looked like until he saw his picture in the media after his arrest.
“This shows how far the opposition is willing to go to silence those they perceive as against them. They see Freddy Blay as a no-nonsense Speaker and that worries them. But, that is no excuse to wish such a terrible thing on a man who has lived such an exemplary life as a lawyer and politician. It beats me,” one family member of his said.
When Yaw Kwakye, a personal aide to the Abuakwa South MP was contacted he said, “We are bemused but not entirely shocked. Obviously they must see Nana Addo as a threat to their leadership ambitions and are therefore prepared to create anything to throw at him. The campaign proper has not even started. But, I think civil society must stand up and be counted. We can't sit and watch whilst our politics is being increasingly dragged into the pit. This is simply not on.”