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Row Over Cocaine
 
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11-Sep-2009  
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The acting Executive Director of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong, has had a serious verbal clash with Kwame Akuffo, lawyer for the CEO of Exopa Modeling Agency, Sima Ibrahim, who was arrested last Sunday for allegedly trafficking in cocaine.

Sima, 39, has been charged with attempting to export unlawful substance and possession of unlawful substance.

Mr Akuffo accused the NACOB boss of flouting the constitutional right of his client, and using ‘improper procedure’ after his client’s arrest, adding that he was rudely driven out of the offices of NACOB.

Akrasi-Sarpong on the other hand accused Kwame Akuffo of exhibiting arrogant behaviour.

Lawyer Akuffo, who said NACOB had infringed on the rights of his client, also accused the agency of tarnishing his reputation, by requesting the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to place his (Akuffo) details in their database.

“I twice greeted him (Akrasi Sarpong) but he failed to acknowledge my presence… he had a big frown on his face. I was not surprised, because I guess he had good reasons why he did that.

About a month ago, I wrote a letter to NACOB requesting the release of a client’s car; however, they copied the letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the USA asking them to put my name on their database… how can you ask that a Lawyer be placed under scrutiny as someone hanging out with drug peddlers?” he asked.

Mr Akuffo further disclosed that his attempt to prevent his client from carrying out NACOB instructions, infuriated the officials, who accused him of interfering with investigations, and thereupon drove him out of the room.

“By interrogation, my client can choose to answer certain questions or not, but asking him to write his statement implies he is giving his side of the case, so I asked them to state whether they were interrogating him or he was simply writing his version of events… they got upset and kicked me out of the interrogation process like a fowl,” he said.

Akrasi-Sarpong said he indeed sacked the lawyer: “I sacked him out of the room” for unduly interfering in the investigation of his client.

The NACOB boss also confirmed that he had ‘profiled’ Mr Akuffo in a different case, explaining that he was not the only one profiled by his outfit.

He suspected Mr Akuffo of going to NACOB offices "with that at the back of his mind”.

“Anybody, any lawyer who obstructs our investigations, I will inform our international partners and we will profile him. Profile simply means is he doing it deliberately under the guise of asking to defend the right of a client.

Because in the international narcotics business, we know civil servants are corrupted, politicians are corrupted, the judiciary can be corrupted and even narcotics officials themselves; so profiling is an ongoing process and I will deepen it and broaden it,” he warned.

According to Mr Akrasi-Sarpong, while the NACOB officials were taking Sima through the procedure in the presence of his counsel, Akuffo abused his presence there as he persistently argued with them in almost every question they posed to the suspect.

He said at a point, Mr. Akuffo was protesting and “obstructing the case” and to calm tempers from flaring, as he (Akrasi-Sarpon) was “getting angry”, the lawyer was ordered to leave the room.

“He started looking at me and pointing his left hand at me and arrogantly speaking out to me,” he claimed.

He said the behavior put up by Sima’s lawyer was not necessary because his client was “not under any pressure”.

However, Mr Akuffo expressed strong reservations and indignation at methods being used by NACOB to elicit information from his client.

Mr. Akuffo revealed that while his client was in the process of writing his statement, NACOB officials began questioning him and ordering him (Sima) to include the responses in his statement.

He said even though he objected to the method, the acting Executive Secretary insisted on taking his client's statement and upon persistent interruption to get things done right, he was sacked from the offices of NACOB “because the language that I was using was not music to his ears”, thus “midway through my client’s statement, he was denied the services of his counsel, a constitutionally guaranteed right”.

“You do not elicit evidence from this incriminating cross examination of a man who is in your custody to obtain information to use against him… a man is not entitled to incriminate himself,” he charged.

Mr Akuffo explained that by interrogation, his client could choose to answer certain questions or not, but asking him to write his statement implies he is giving his side of the case, which he said could be used to implicate him.

Ibrahim Sima was arrested Sunday at the Kotoka International Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle substances suspected to be cocaine to Germany.

The substances were alleged to have been concealed in four tubers of yam which were part of the luggage of the Ghanaian fashion icon, who shot to fame about a year ago as the brain behind the exquisite modelling agency in Ghana.

But Ibrahim Sima has “denied all the allegations” leveled against him, his lawyer maintained.

Mr Akuffo said he has been advising Mr Sima on “his constitutional rights in order not to incriminate himself” and insists his client is “innocent” and would be cleared at the end.

A luxury Range Rover belonging to the Exopa boss with a customized number plate, “EXOPA 7Y”, has been impounded as investigations continue.

At the Exopa School of Modeling both workers and students were shocked and saddened at the reported arrest of their boss who was teaching about 100 models.

It will be recalled that Sima Ibrahim was arrested on Sunday night at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) just before he boarded a Lufthansa Airline for Frankfurt.

He was nabbed for attempting to export five kilogrammes of cocaine and security officials said based on suspicion during random checks on passengers, Sima was invited for a urine test.

Sima’s luggage was off-loaded and a check revealed that it contained four tubers of yam that had been sliced and re-fixed and each of them contained substances which proved to be cocaine following a field test.

Upon interrogation, Mr Sima said one Salifu at Nima allegedly gave the yams to him to be given to someone in Germany.

Sima’s agency recently organised the Ghana Fashion Week modeling and fashion event which brought down Hollywood superstar, Boris Kodjoe.

Meanwhile, three Americans were on Wednesday arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on suspicion of drug trafficking. The suspects, a male and two females, had attempted to smuggle the substance onto a Delta Airline flight when they were arrested by officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB).

According to media reports two of the suspects, Abena Serwah, 19, and Shadrack Ntiamoah Bamfo, 23, are of Ghanaian parentage while the third, Joanne Gabriel, 21, is an African-American.

Besides concealing the suspected drugs in the three pairs of snickers they were wearing, Abena and Joanne had stuffed their private parts with four large lump-sized parcels of drugs. Joanne alone carried three of the four lump-sized drugs in her private parts.

Also found on Abena Serwaa was a talisman believed to have been secured to protect them against arrest. For his part, Shadrack also concealed 19 pellets of the suspected drugs in his underwear. They were arrested while going through departure formalities to travel to New York.
 
 
 
Source: D-Guide
 
 

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