Ghana’s President John Kufuor is reportedly upset with his security chiefs after they failed to intercept a suspected shipload of cocaine that was in the country’s territorial waters. Sources say President Kufuor is demanding answers for what has been described as a “security breach”. This is the second time in recent times that a suspected shipload of cocaine has gone missing without a trace in Ghana’s territorial waters.
Kweku Agyeman-Manu is the deputy minister for internal affairs. From the capital, Accra he tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that President Kufuor’s government is working to prevent the country from becoming a transit point for narcotics trade.
“There was an intelligence report that there was a ship that was heading towards the shores of Ghana, and internationally they suspected that its cargo may contain some prohibited drugs. So, Ghana NACO (Narcotics Control Board) was hinted and they did the little things that they do to track them. The reports we had eventually was that they couldn’t actually locate the ship, but all contingency plans they made to immediately swoop on the ship if it docked on the shores of Ghana, came to no serious purpose because at the end of the day the ship never docked on the shores of Ghana,” he said.
He said President Kufuor was not enthused about the failure of the security agencies to intercept the suspected shipload of cocaine.
“The president wasn’t happy because if we had located it in our territorial waters, at least we should have been able to intercept them and possibly searched through the ship to see if the suspicion the international intelligence unit had was correct,” he pointed out.
Agyeman-Manu said people are reading too much politics into the disappearance of the ship.
“It’s very unfortunate that in Ghana here, we seem to politicize everything. We know our logistics constraints, the first report we had was that naval ships should go chasing them, some security issues shouldn’t come into the public domain, else I would have told you the speed per nautical miles of the naval ship, the best one that we are using. So if you send them down I can’t tell you what it is to let them drive through or go through the sea to get through nowhere, over what period. So we have constraints and Ghanaians don’t appreciate this,” Agyeman-Manu said.
He blames the security lapse on the unavailability of the best technology that is used in the developed countries.
“Our security along our shores is not as developed as what we have in where you are (U.S.A) or somewhere in Europe. We have a very serious constraint, and we’ve tried to put in investments to help us do monitoring very closely to see how best we can do certain things. I’m not holding brief for the government, but Ghanaians should accept the fact that we are putting in all efforts to try to ensure that we don’t get this place to become a very major transit place,” he noted.
Agyeman-Manu outlined some steps he said President Kufuor’s government has outlined to stop other suspected ships from disappearing along the country’s shores.
“The first thing I will tell you is that we have intensified our efforts to collaborate with the authorities in the UK (united Kingdom), who seem to have logistics and better expertise and experience than us, to try and see how we can combat this illicit trade along our shores and within our country. We have over the last few months installed at our major airport, we call Kotoka airport, and we call operation West Bridge. We did in collaboration with Her Royal Highness’ customs authorities. And since we put that thing there, I think since around January or so, arrests in Accra have gone up,” Agyeman-Manu said.
He said as part of the steps the government is putting in place to stop other suspected ships from disappearing, underperforming security officials have been replaced.
“There has been a major shake up at our Narcotics Control Board; the first three top people are gone, and a new board has been put in place. We’ve recruited about forty young men and women who have been undergoing serious training, and I believe over the next few weeks, they would come out of their training,” he said.