Friday, 28 November 2014

Ghana issues UK ‘cocaine scandal’ challenge

Ghanaians both at home and in the UK have been gripped by the saga of an alleged drug trafficker arrested in the UK who is reported to have links to the West African nation’s presidency.
Nayele Ametefe, also known as Ruby Adu Gyamfi was found  entering the UK with 12.5kg of cocaine
Nayele Ametefe, also known as Ruby Adu Gyamfi was found entering the UK with 12.5kg of cocaine
Nayele Ametefe, also known as Ruby Adu Gyamfi. was arrested on November 10 at Heathrow Airport for carrying 12.5kilos of cocaine in her hand luggage.
After the arrest, she was arraigned before the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday November 11 and charged for drug trafficking. She was subsequently remanded in Police custody to reappear today, November 27, when she will appear before Isleworth Crown Court.
Meanwhile, a total of 12 people have been arrested in Ghana in connection with the case. They include Nana Akua Amponsah and Sadalia Sandra Nuhu, who reportedly travelled with Ms Ametefe but absconded after the latter was apprehended.
Ghana’s opposition has called for a parliamentary inquiry into allegations that the suspected cocaine trafficker had access to the presidential lounge at the country’s main airport. At least three Ghanaian government officials are thought to have also been arrested.
On Tuesday, Dominic Nitiwul – a senior member of Ghana’s opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) – appeared in parliament with three bags of rice, weighing around 13kg (28lbs). Displaying the bags, Mr Nitiwul questioned how a similar amount of cocaine could have evaded customs and security officials at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport.
Mr Nitiwul kept up pressure on the government on Wednesday by calling for a bipartisan parliamentary committee to investigate the conduct of officials.
“How did it become possible for the [alleged] cocaine lady to use the VVIP [presidential] lounge of Kotoka International Airport? By what arrangement was she [allegedly] able to get the cocaine into the plane without being detected by all the security operatives at the airport?” Mr Nitiwul said, at a press conference.
‘Ruby’ is believed to be connected with high-profile politicians in Ghana and known in government circles. Though the British High Commission to Ghana have issued a statement denying any prior knowledge of Ms Ametefe’s intentions, her arrest is widely believed to be as a result of police intelligence, though it is unclear how long the passenger had been under observation.
British authorities are said to have side-stepped the usual courtesies accorded diplomatic passport holders and approached Ms Ametefe on her arrival with a view to conducting a body search, which yielded negative results. The consignment of cocaine was discovered during a subsequent search of the passenger’s hand luggage where 12.5kg of the class A drug was neatly concealed.
Ghana authorities have denied any involvement in what local media has dubbed “the cocaine scandal”. President John Mahama has also strongly denied reports that Ms Ametefe was linked to his family and, via one of his ministers, has challenged UK authorities to disclose whether she indeed had a diplomatic passport in her possession.
Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah said on Accra-based Radio Gold on Saturday: “Let the British High Commission stand up and be counted… did she travel to Britain on a diplomatic passport or did she have a diplomatic passport in her possession?”
On Friday, the British High Commission in a statement denied claims by Ghana’s Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) that it helped the UK security agencies in the arrest..
“Any potential drug trafficker to the UK from Ghana is arrested here in Ghana and not permitted to board a flight in order to traffic drugs,” the statement clarified. It further stated that UK authorities had no prior knowledge of the “intentions of Ms. Nayele Ametefeh (sic) before flying from Accra to London on 9/10 November,” but fell short of making any categorical statement whether the lady had a diplomatic passport.
Dr. Omane Boamah in response said: “Why the British High Commission failed or refused to comment on whether the lady was arrested with a diplomatic passport in hand, I cannot understand (…) if they didn’t speak, it [would have been] a different ball game altogether, they have spoken, they should stand up and be counted…,” he shouted repeatedly.
The British High Commission in their statement on Friday explained that Ms. Ametefe’s case is an ongoing Police investigation and as such the Commission will not be commenting on the details.