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16.05.2019 General News

Probe Custom Officers Over Imported Guns—Group

By Clement Akoloh
Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery
MAY 16, 2019 GENERAL NEWS
Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery

A group calling itself The Young Professionals say they are not convinced with the claims made by customs officials that the 40 footer container load of ammunition intercepted by the security officials upon a tip-off, were hunting guns and not pump action guns as were earlier speculated.

The Young Professionals in a press release signed by its Deputy Communications Director, Daniels Hollie is demanding for more answers from the handlers of the state asking why the Ministry of Interior granted permission for the importation of such huge quantities of guns ahead of the 2020 general elections which is just at the corner.

They are left with worry why the security services were not made aware of it until after it was inspected.

The group also demand to know why government would want to undermine its own bid to fight Vigilantism and other forms of crime in the country by allowing the importation of such large quantities of arms by one single individual.

Last week, the Head of the Preventive Service of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Joseph Oppong Aboagye allayed fears of the public after an inspection was carried out on a container full of guns that they had not found any offensive weapons as had been speculated.

Below is the full release by the Young Professionals:

CUSTOMS’ CLASSIFICATION OF DEADLY PUMP-ACTION GUNS AS HUNTING GUNS ALARMING - YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

The Young Professionals (YP) was very alarmed first and foremost when news broke about a 40ft container packed with weapons [guns] at our main harbour, the Tema port on Thursday night, May 9, 2019. In that audio-visual which went viral on social media calling for the immediate attention of our authorities, Ghanaians were anxious about what the next day will unveil.

In fact, the concerns of many Ghanaians worsened when our Customs together with a team of security services mainly the police and the military upon displaying these weapons, kind courtesy social media and the various news portals referred to what we all glaringly saw as pump-action guns to be hunting guns, a 40ft container load of HUNTING GUNS?

It is an undeniable fact that the government currently in its bid to fight vigilantism and other forms of crime has failed at that attempt either by deliberately not showing genuine commitment or is clearly unable to tackle the challenge head-on, which is a worrisome concern to every citizen.

The Young Professionals would like to seize this opportunity to raise the following red flags and ask the questions below, which are lingering on in the minds of Ghanaians:

1. There is a need for a further thorough investigation to establish the exact definition of the weapons shipped into the country.

a) in order to ensure neither the Customs nor the importer is deliberately indulge in the wrong classification in a bid to avoid payment of the right duty.

b) if this act denies the state of its revenue, it must be checked to ascertain whether it was deliberate, hindsight or out of incompetence

c) if it is established that our customs and security officials were negligent in classifying these deadly weapons as hunting guns instead of its appropriate names, they must be dealt with accordingly to serve as a deterrent to others who may fail to discharge their official duties diligently

2. Has hunting become such a commercial activity in Ghana to the extent of thousands of pump-action guns being shipped into this country under the disguise of hunting guns, where are the games?

3. A cursory look at a few images from various news portals relating to the government's fight against galamsey evidently shows that most of these illegal miners especially the Chinese, are seen wielding these same weapons {pump-action guns} which our Customs together with the security services are suddenly calling hunting guns, to protect their sites.

4. If our major port can be this porous for pump-action guns to be shipped through only to be classified as hunting guns, how many other deadly weapons have already passed through and classified as toys?

5. In the wake of threats of insurgency in the sub-region and our own challenge of fighting vigilantism, kidnappings and other crimes, close to an election year, WHY should an arms dealer be given clearance to import thousands of deadly pump-action guns into the country, and wrongly classify them as hunting guns?

6. If indeed our security agencies and the Customs had fore-knowledge about this shipment as they would want us to believe, WHY then did they themselves act in the way and manner that suggested that they knew nothing about the shipment?

The Young Professionals would like to advice authorities related to this shipment clearance to give it a second thought and act accordingly

Ghanaians are very worried, having full knowledge of the fact that, kind courtesy the Emile Short Commission of inquiry, the government recruited many of its militia hoodlums from the invisible and delta forces into our security services without adequate training, with some having had as little as two weeks training yet in the possession of AK47 assault rifles; "Double".

At a time when the Peace Council has been mandated to mediate and bring the two major political parties [NDC and NPP] to the table to discuss how to disband their vigilante groups, it is disturbing news to know of this latest development which if care is not taken can stall the mediation process.

Is the government through the relevant institutions able to satisfy itself with the records of this importer in terms of who his clients are and how come all of a sudden he projected the demand for these weapons to be so high that he needed this huge quantity?

If possible, a freeze should be put on this shipment and other future shipments until after the 2020 elections as well as ensuring our borders are tightly secured, devoid of smuggling in of any such weapons

This development is very worrying to us Young Professionals, who strongly believe that government and the state security institutions must come in to convince Ghanaians that the shipment of these weapons will not end up in the wrong hands.

It is our fervent hope that adequate information be provided to give Ghanaians some comfort and we would like to appeal to the media, in particular, to help us follow up on this story to its logical conclusion because we must take precautionary measures ahead of election 2020 as tension continues to rise between the two main political parties, the NDC and the NPP.

We also call on all other stakeholders to be concerned about this development and have a say, without hesitation because there is only one Ghana we all have, we must safeguard it.

Thank you

Young Professionals,

---signed---

Daniels Hollie

Deputy Director, Communications

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