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Ghana Freezes Assets of Suspected Drug Barons


In Ghana, the government has frozen the assets of 21 individuals and firms implicated in drug-related cases.

Ghana has been battling to redeem its image since the arrest earlier this year in the United States of a member of Ghana's parliament on drug-smuggling charges.

In April, the West African nation was further embarrassed when security lapses caused the disappearance of 77 out of 88 parcels of cocaine, each weighing 30 kilos, from a vessel within Ghana's territorial waters. The country's Narcotics Control Board lost track of another five kilos of confiscated drugs.

A fact-finding committee set up by the government to investigate the incidents has yet to complete its work. However, assets of all persons and firms implicated in the cases have been frozen. They include bank accounts and other movable and immovable property.

Kwame Osei-Prempeh is Ghana's deputy justice minister and attorney general. He says the government is determined to fight crime, and will not allow its borders to be used for illegal activities.

"What is certain now is that the government is now tough on crime. And arrests are being made," he said. "It seem that, previously, people could just pass through. They have done it for some time, and found out there was easy access here. But, now, what government is doing is that we want to get tougher and tougher, so that we cure this menace once and for all."

Osei-Prempeh is also worried about the increasing use of drugs in Ghana, as the country has increasingly become a transit point.

"It is clear that not every cocaine, which gets here leaves the shores of this country, and that is the fear, that it has the potential of destroying individuals, destroying families, destroying towns, companies and even the country itself," he said.

Some police officers have been temporarily removed from their posts over the drug scandal.

Five people charged in the cases were refused bail on Thursday.

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