18 July 2007

Ghana: Bombshell in Court

The premises of an Accra High Court trying Kwabena Amaning alias Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass for their alleged connection to the mission 77 parcels of cocaine from MV Benjamin, was extra-ordinarily packed to capacity.

It was the day for the first accused, (Tagor) to open his defence after the court had dismissed a submission of no case by his lawyers. Clad in a black and white long-sleeve shirt on top of a pair of black trousers and black shoes, the 34 year-old suspected drug baron walked into the dock and the anxiety of his family members, spectators and journalists increased.

All were ready to hear what the popular young man had to say in defence. He swore with Bible, mentioned his full name as Kwabena Amaning and acknowledged the name, Tagor, as his popular name, which he said, was acquired when he was a student at St. Augustine's College in the central region capital of Cape coast and identified himself as a businessman.

It was now time to go into the real case, the questions began and Tagor started his narrations and there and then came the revelation of how the controversial meeting that was held in the private residence of the interdicted Director General of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Nathaniel Kofi Boakye, was recorded.

Tagor disclosed to the Court that the infamous tape recording of the meeting that became known as the 'convention of suspected drug barons,' was done by Alhaji Issah Abass, his co-suspect and second accused in the ongoing trail.

The identity of the person who recorded the said conversation became a mystery that the Georgina Wood committee which was set up to unravel the whereabouts of the missing parcels of cocaine could not establish.

Tagor, who was opening his defense after declaring to speak the truth, indicated that Alhaji Abass confided in him that Ben Ndego, the deputy executive secretary and operational director of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) had tasked him to record the meeting since NACOB was putting surveillance on the popular police officer.

The accused person told the court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotes, an Appeal Court judge, sitting as an additional High court judge that they were also to make ACP Kofi Boakye to talk and mention names that he knew of.

According to the accused person, they were more than five people at the meeting, where Kofi Boakye instructed them to place their ears carefully on the ground and get back to him when they heard anything about the missing 77 parcels of cocaine.

Tagor further admitted being aware of the recordings done by Abass but denied that he and Abass were going to look for the missing parcels of the illicit drug.

The accused person denied selling cocaine and arranging for payment in Holland as claimed by the prosecution and further denied promoting narcotic drug business let alone crediting 100kg of cocaine as was being claimed by his accusers.

Additionally, he denied having a driver, who had gotten a house and car from one Chris Archer and indicated that his driver, by name Kofi Asare, died when he (Tagor) was in custody. Tagor told the court that he did not know whether his deceased driver owned a house and a car as he denied knowledge of any Mama Thess indicating that it was part of the ploy to make ACP Kofi Boakye to talk.

Accused person who told the court he was a businessman said Alhaji Abass took the recordings to NACOB but called to tell him later that after listening to the tape it was clear that Kofi Boakye knew nothing about the missing 77 parcels of cocaine.

Responding to questions during cross examination, accused person told the court that he said nothing when he appeared before the Georgina Wood Committee because he knew NACOB would come to his rescue.

Responding further to questions on his education, Tagor told the court that he started his secondary education at Pope Johns Secondary School with the name Ernest Kwabena Osei through to St Augustine's College until he returned from America when he changed his name to Kwabena Amaning. He continued to inform the court that he furthered his education at Labone Secondary but did not complete and left for the United

States of America where he id various kinds of jobs. Accused person further admitted he traveled to America with a Ghanaian Passport but said he could not remember the name in the passport as the passport did not belong to him.

Tagor noted that he owned a house located at East Legon and denied owing a lot of houses when put to by the Acting Director for Public Prosecution, Ms. Gertrude Aikens.

He denied further that he came to Ghana to establish cocaine business which had brought a breach between him and the second accused Alhaji Issah Abass.

Additionally, he denied that his company Cross Trade Investment was being used as a front to hide the cocaine business he was into.

Denying further, accused person said he did not run to Alhaji Moro to seek protection because he was scared of ACP Kofi Boakye after he realized the latter was looking for him.

He maintained that he was threatened by ACP Kofi Boakye when he invited him over to his office and queried him about not coming to pay homage to him after returning from America.

Tagor held further that he had a meeting with Alhaji Abass before the meeting in the residence of Kofi Boakye and denied further that he was not on talking terms with Alhaji Abass.

He told the court that apart from him and Alhaji Issah Abass no one at the infamous meeting knew about the secret recording. Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass are facing four and three counts respectively of dealing in narcotic drugs, conspiracy to deal in prohibited business, namely narcotic drugs, supplying, buying, and crediting, contrary to the Narcotic Drugs law.

They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges leveled against them.

Earlier, the two had been charged together with Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billah, Alhaji Moro Mohammed, and Kwabena Acheampong, who were later, discharged before trial begun at the FTC.

The court adjourned sitting to today for continuation

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