Commentary: Let’s Deal With The Drug Issue Decisively
Ghana is a great ally in the global fight against narcotics. It has signed conventions to this effect, and remained committed.
When President John Evans Atta Mills and his ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) assumed the reins of power in 2009, he re- assured the international community of his government's commitment to help eradicate this menace, which threatens the peace and health of the world. And, he subjects himself to searches at the Kotoka Airport for drugs anytime he travels. He has also ordered his appointees to be screened for drugs anytime they go through immigration formalities.
The True Statesman is happy to note that the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), the agency that is charged with playing the leadership role in the fight against drugs in the country leaves no stone unturned in this regard; the NACOB staffs do not only thoroughly take travelers through immigration formalities but also hunt dealers out of their hideouts.
Although they have been doing their best to track down the dealers and bring them to justice, the complementary role they need from the judiciary and other agencies to crown their efforts have not been forthcoming.
Many drug dealers have remained on the wanted list for many years now because of lack of co-operation from the bench.
The disappointing situation has come about because, although the criminal code clearly states that suspects in narcotics cases are not entitled to bail, the courts close their eyes to it and allow bail for the accused. And what happens next? On the next adjourned date, the accused is nowhere to be found; he or she has jumped bail.
This is nerve-breaking for NACOB, its staff and all those who make tireless effort to successfully fight the narcotic war.
The recent case in which a committee has been set up to investigate the circumstances in which a substance found to be cocaine turned into a harmless substance, is one questionable ways in which drug cases are handled.
The accused was arrested, and the exhibit for which she was arrested was found to be narcotic. She was then put before court, but was granted bail, contrary to the law.
She ran away from the jurisdiction of the court, and pressure was mounted on the surety and for fear of losing his property, he had to hunt for the accused. He succeeded in getting her back into the country for the trial to continue. It was at this juncture that the banned substance on which she was standing trial turned out to be harmless substance.
This is funny indeed, but one point must be made clear: Just as it is wrong in law to convict an accused using wrong grounds, so it is a travesty of justice for a judge to allow accused to go scot-free for unacceptable reasons.
It must be remembered that it will be difficult to fight crime if the law-enforcement agencies and the courts do not perform their duties faithfully, without fear or favour.
Ghana's image must not be tainted in anyway by the way our security agencies and the courts deal with narcotic cases. Ghana has a good image to project.
It is satisfying that the committee which has been set up to investigate how and when the cocaine turned into sodium biocarbonate, has swung into action and is receiving the needed co-operation.
It is the hope of The True Statesman that the committee will make a thorough investigation into the matter and make far-reaching recommendations as to how to correct the inadequacies of the existing law for the total realization of its objectives and how to stop rogues on the bench and the bar from manipulating the law for their selfish interest.
Meanwhile, The True Statesman appeals to the NACOB and the courts to get the sureties for accused persons who have jumped bail in narcotic cases, to produce the suspects.
The laws of the land must be made to work!
The True Statesman