Excuse Me While I Puff My Carlos Torano Cigar...

When you adopt a kneejerk reaction to any problem, it will seriously backfire. This was exactly what happened when Madam Nayele Ametefeh was arrested in the UK on November 10 for trying to import huge quantities of cocaine into that country. Immediately the news broke out, Dr Edward Omane-Boamah, the government’s Communications Minister, came out to tell Ghanaians that the lady was not carrying any Diplomatic Passport but rather she had a Ghanaian as well as an Austrian passport. Then the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) also joined the chorus and gave us the same explanation and went further to tell the good people of this country that it was the collaboration between NACOB and the security agencies in the UK that led to the busting of the drug baroness. The British High Commission in Ghana quickly came out to say that what NACOB told Ghanaians was not the truth and that they acted alone to arrest the baroness. Instead of NACOB, headed by Akrasi Sarpong, to come out and challenge the High Commission, they kept quiet. To further expose NACOB, Dr Omane-Boamah came out again to tell Ghanaians that NACOB did not collaborate in any way to cause the arrest of the drug baroness. Still NACOB kept their silence. When the President too had the opportunity to address a forum, he lambasted the media in Ghana and took those who published the arrest of the lady to the cleaners. He even justified the arrest of the boss of Citi FM. The President said the Ghanaian media is unprofessional and admonished us to work hard, implying that we are lazy. As for the Austrian newspaper which first broke the news and indicated that the Ghanaian drug baroness pulled a Diplomatic Passport when things started going bad for her at London Heathrow Airport, the President did not see anything wrong with that reportage. As the truth about the arrest of the cocaine baroness continued to surface, the government caused the arrest of the Acting Director of Passports and some officials at the Kotoka International Airport. A replay of a CCTV had shown that the lady passed through the VVIP section of the Kotoka International Airport and that she used a State Protocol car to enter the tarmac. It also revealed that a security officer at the airport carried the suitcase containing the cocaine into the plane. Some of us who did not believe that the lady was carrying a Diplomatic Passport changed our minds when the Acting Director of Passports was arrested. The arrest of the Acting Director of Passports has uncovered the underbelly of the government and for that matter NACOB and Dr Omane Boamah. In this country, we have never heard of the arrest of any Director of Passports when a drug pusher is arrested outside the country. Why now? If indeed the lady was carrying an ordinary Ghanaian passport, why arrest the Acting Director of Passports? Is she not entitled to use a Ghanaian passport? Is she not a Ghanaian? The truth is that the lady was issued a Diplomatic Passport to facilitate her job as a drug dealer. If an ordinary 32-year-old lady could use the VVIP section of the Kotoka International Airport to smuggle such a huge quantity of cocaine, then there are more questions than answers. It has also been revealed that the drug baroness has been in the business since 2009—that was immediately after the NDC came to power and removed the Operation Westgate machine which was installed there to check the illegal drug business. It has also been revealed that she has close friends in government. In a desperate attempt to cover up the deal, the High Commissioner of Ghana to the UK, Mr Victor Smith, quickly visited the drug baroness in her cells, probably to warn her not to sing loud enough. We have many Ghanaians languishing in jails in the UK for their involvement in cocaine. I wonder how many of them hosted Mr Smith since he was posted to the UK. You see how God exposes wrong doers? Those who collaborated with the drug baroness to bring such a big disgrace to Ghana as a country were trying to play smart; but sadly, they were not clever enough. A Diplomatic Passport holder enjoys diplomatic immunity. This is a form of legal immunity that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country’s laws. This was agreed as International Law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relation (1961). What the drug baroness and her cohorts did not know is that even though one may be holding a Diplomatic Passport, when he or she is suspected in one way or the other the immunity is waved aside. That was why Nayele Ametefeh was searched even though she pulled a Diplomatic Passport. Laws are made to be obeyed irrespective of one’s status in life. Even if the Pope is suspected of carrying drugs, he will be searched at any airport that he may pass through. What is most surprising about this cocaine saga is the silence of Mr Akrasi Sarpong. This was the guy who boasted in the run-up to the 2012 general elections that he would not countenance any political party functionary who might try to deal in cocaine in order to get money for their political activities. When he made that unfortunate statement, all eyes turned to the New Patriotic Party because the NDC apparatchiks did not miss any opportunity to accuse the NPP of drug peddling. They never hesitated to use the case of Eric Amoateng as a typical example. In the case of Eric Amoateng, he did not travel with a Diplomatic Passport; neither did he pass through the VVIP section of the Kotoka International Airport. When Amoateng was arrested in the US, the Ambassador of Ghana to the US did not visit him and no boss of any radio station was arrested by the BNI. In fact, the then sitting President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, never lambasted any media house for commenting on the issue. Kufuor allowed the law to take its course and allowed the media to play its role as watchdog. Did I hear NDC communicators telling Ghanaians not to do politics with the Nayele cocaine case? Since when did they realise that the issue of cocaine and politics are incompatible? The NDC communicators should rather begin buying crush helmets because what will fall from the sky in 2016 will crush their skulls. Nobody, including chiefs, men of God, etc., will have the moral right to advise the NPP not to use cocaine as a campaign tool. When the NDC tagged Nana Akufo-Addo with cocaine, where were all those men of God and our respected chiefs? There is a picture of Mr Mahama and Nayele having a good time at a beach which has gone viral; and it will be used in 2016. There is another one with the lady standing beside a car decorated with NDC colours and a picture of Mr Mahama; that too will be used. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. I would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to the leadership of the NPP to get the pictures ready and start ordering huge billboards so that the pictures will be posted and erected in all the nooks and crannies of Ghana. Under normal circumstances, the issue of cocaine is so serious that both the government and the opposition should fight the canker together. Apart from the fact that it destroys the economy and promotes crime, cocaine destroys the image of a nation and drives away potential investors. That is why the United States of America is spending large amounts of money to fight the menace. The Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the US has tried so much to fight the cocaine menace; but even with their sophisticated equipment, they are losing the battle against these drug barons and baronesses. Drug barons/baronesses are so clever that they manage to elude all the traps set. In Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela and other South American countries where these illicit drugs are produced, some cartels use submarines to export their drugs to the US and other European countries. It’s a serious business, you know. The case in West Africa is unique because to reach West Africa from these countries, you simply cross the Atlantic Ocean in a boat and you are here in a few days time. To get the illicit drugs to the US, UK and other European countries, these criminals use West Africa as the launch pad and they have willing collaborators in West Africa to help them ferry the drugs to their final destinations. Remember, cocaine is not produced in Ghana. It is imported into the country and exported to other countries. A few quantities are left in the country for “home consumption”. When the NDC started using cocaine to do politics in Ghana, I had cause to write in this column that they were setting a very bad example because even as they continued to use this serious issue to gain political advantage when Eric Amoateng was arrested in the US, the drug barons continued to smile their way to the banks. The NDC did not heed the warning and today, here we are with a lady using a Diplomatic Passport to export cocaine. God save our homeland Ghana! Excuse me while I puff my Carlos Torano cigar.