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The Navrongo police in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region last Friday arrested a woman for attempting to smuggle 1,000 (50kg) bags of fertiliser meant for Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).

The arrest of Aisha Ibrahim at about 6:30pm last Thursday, followed collaboration between officers of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and the Ghana Police Service.

Upper East Regional Minister, Tangoba Abayage, who confirmed this on A1 Radio in Bolgatanga said the BNI officers informed the police on Thursday that a woman was in the process of smuggling fertiliser to Burkina Faso.

She said when the police rushed to the scene they saw two trucks, one with Ghanaian registration number and the other with Burkinabe registration number.

Ms. Tangoba said the truck with the Ghanaian registration number was loaded with bags of fertiliser with PFJ stickers embossed on them, whilst the Burkinabe truck was loaded with fertilisers without stickers embossed on the bags.

“Now this is what they were doing; they were removing the stickers of Planting for Food and Jobs embossed on the bags of fertiliser, tearing the stickers into pieces and after they’ve removed and tore the stickers into pieces, they would transfer it onto the Burkina Faso truck.

“These fertiliser bags were the 50 kilogram bags. As at the time they [police] got there, they had transferred 350 bags from the Ghanaian truck, after removing the stickers onto the Burkinabe truck, leaving 650 bags in the Ghanaian registered truck.

So in total, the articulated truck had brought into Navrongo thousand bags of 50 kilogram weight fertiliser bags and they had transferred 350 onto the Burkina Faso truck. They were in the process when the police got there,” the Regional minister narrated.

The minister said the driver of the Burkinabe truck absconded the car before the police got to the scene and is yet to found. However, the driver of the Ghanaian truck and Aisha Ibrahim, the prime suspect, were arrested.

She explained that the 50kg bags of fertilisers are not allowed into the region, stressing that, “One thing you should know is that, the 50kg bags are not even allowed into our part of the country. So any time you find 50kg bag of fertiliser, that fertilizer is illegal.”

Ms. Tangoba commended the two security agencies – the BNI and Police – through whose intelligence and efforts led to the interception of the fertiliser and subsequent arrest of the prime suspect.

She said after the arrest, the police visited the stores and anywhere they found 50kg bags of fertilisers for PFJ, they confiscated same and sent them to the police station.

The minister said: “I called the Director for Crops of the Ministry of Agriculture because I didn’t understand why there should be stickers and not embossment on the sack itself, and he explained that the fertilisers they used last year, there were some left over.

“Last year, as you are aware, we didn’t have embossment on the sacks, which is one of the reasons we had a lot of smuggling across the borders because you couldn’t separate what was for Planting for Food and Jobs from what was not meant for Planting for Food and Jobs and so we had leftovers.

“So, this year, what they did was that, if you had left overs in your warehouse, print stickers and put them on the sacks to indicate that these are for Planting for Food and Jobs. So it is those types of fertilisers that they brought into Navrongo, all of them had stickers on them.

“But apart from the stickers, we also had tags. Each fertiliser that is for Planting for Food and Jobs has a special tag that other fertiliser bags don’t have. So even if you remove the sticker, those tags are there, they are sewn onto the bags and each tag has its own unique serial number. “So when we went there, even those that they had removed the stickers from, they had the tags that are unique for only those of the Planting for Food and Jobs fertiliser bags.”

The waybill, as narrated by the minister, indicated that the fertiliser had been transported from Tema in the Greater Accra Region to Navrongo. This, she said, was another reason that made it worrying because anybody who brings fertiliser into the region knows the due process to follow.

“When you bring fertilizer from outside the region, when you enter the region, the Regional Minister and the Regional Director for Agriculture should take a look at your waybill and then inspect the fertilizer to ensure that what is on the waybill corresponds with what is in the truck. We will ensure that everything is right and then I am expected to endorse your waybill, the regional director is also to endorse.

“When you get to the district where you are expected to offload the fertiliser, the District Director [of agriculture] and the District Chief Executive will do the same thing that we did. In this case, we had no idea about how the fertiliser entered the region.

“But from the documents they have, it originated from Tema. As I said, we are not allowed to bring 50kg bags into this region. All the 1000 bags are 50kg.”

This is the second time this year the region has recorded smuggling of fertilizer meant for PFJ programme. Last month, two articulated trucks were impounded with a total of 4,000 bags of fertilizer meant for PFJ programme.

Ms. Tangoba observed the trend of the smuggling indicates that there is a cartel behind it and issued a stern warning that the security agencies are on high alert to clamp down on such unscrupulous persons.

The prime suspect in Thursday’s attempted smuggling, Aisha Ibrahim, is expected to appear in court on Monday, July 29, 2019.

Source: William Nlanjerbor Jalulah, Navrongo/The Chronicle

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