Kwesi Aning, director, research department of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, KIPTC, takes matters of personal security very seriously. Perhaps for the sake of his brand new Jag, he lets off a fusillade every morning from his pump action. But that is the least of his worries now. He told journalists who visited the KAIPTC that drug trafikking in West Africa posed a new threat to peace and security in the West African sub-region.
Aning said that substances like cocaine and heroine were being smuggled in most West African countries without police scrutiny. According to the KAIPTC research director, Ghana is the hottest in West Africa where international drug smuggling is widespread because of its perceived stability. He claimed that drugs that entered Ghana came from Southeast and Southwest Asia, with Accra’s Kotoka International Airport increasingly being used as an intersection for traffickers. ‘’Historically, the largest drug seizure in Ghana was in January 2004, when 675 kilos of cocaine valued at $140 million’’, he said. From the figures he presented, drug seizure in Ghana showed that in the months of January to March, 5, 88,360.43 grams of cocaine, 5,464.25 of heroin and 156.31 grams of cannabis were seized. What is significant about the cartel involved is that the criminal networks involved do not have structured identities as those in South East Asia and Latin America. The drug barons whose identity is usually vague are said to operate through a complex system where actual carriers never come into contact with carriers.
Aning told reporters that the barons usually don’t have problems with recruitment of carriers from the massive army of unemployed. ‘’Most carriers are promised free visa and tickets to the West by the drug traffickers and given ‘parcels’ containing the illegal drugs to be delivered to some unknown person(s) mainly in Europe or the USA’’, he told TELL reporter who was among the team if international journalists at the KAIPTC. Aloysius Kpando, a Ghanaian businessman, related how he nearly became an ‘unconscious’ carrier. He narrated that a childhood acquaintance whom he had confided in that he was travelling, gave him a piece of cake to give to his brother in Nigeria. Quiet by chance, he said that he was curious to know why he had to deliver an ordinary piece of cake. He opened the parcel and discovered the inevitable. Kpando told the magazine that he did not bother to confront his friend, but sneaked out quietly to Nigeria without the ‘cake’.
Though Ghana is mostly a transit point for drug trafficking, Aning said that senior security officials, including members of the judiciary are known accomplices in the drug trade. Watchers of the Ghanaian judicial system revealed to TELL that the recurring decimal is that judges give judgments in drug cases that have revealed a culpable pattern. When those involved in a 675-kilo cocaine (worth $140million at street value) heist were apprehended, the judge granted bail of $2,000.00. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, minister of the interior, together with Paapa Owusu Ankomah, Minister of Justice, cried foul over the matter and the suspects were not released in the long run. The erring judge who was transferred to Kumasi following the suspicious manner he was alleged to have handled the case, promptly resigned his position as judge.