FTC Awaits Reports From GSA
By Ivy Benson
The Fast Truck Court (FTC) adjudicating the alleged importation of substances suspected to be cocaine into the country by two Nigerians, is awaiting report from the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) as to the real content that weight 200kilogrammes.
The court, presided over by Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh has, therefore, ordered officials of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) to expedite action on getting the result from the GSA in order for trial to commence. The court, therefore, adjourned sitting to March 26, this year, to await the report from the GSA.
The decision of the court yesterday, followed the inability of the prosecution to proceed with the case as the Principal State Attorney, Asiamah Sampong informed the court of the unavailability of official report on the substance from the GSA.
Defense counsel, ACP K.K. Amoah (rtd) and Mr. Emmanuel Effah Annan were disappointed over the turn of events as demanded that the authorities should work on the report expeditiously.
According to Mr. Annan, his client, Sunny Ekechukwu Benji Eke, is suffering from a serious medical condition and therefore required that the case should be dealt with expeditiously.
The accused persons, James Elekechukwu, 47, and Sunny Ekechukwu Benji Eke, 53, allegedly conspired and concealed 200 kilogrammes of substances suspected to be cocaine, with a street value of $12 million, in a 40-footer cargo container loaded with cosmetics.
James Elekechukwu, who is a second hand cloth dealer, was arrested in Weija, when he was in the process of taking delivery of the goods, while Sunny Ekechukwu Benji Eke was arrested at the Accra Mall by the officials of NACOB, upon a tip off.
The Elekechukwu was said to have GH¢2,150 in his possession, while Benji Eke was having USD18, 700, CFA 180,000, 3,945 Naira and GH¢680 in his possession during their arrest, which were retrieved by the authorities.
Both accused persons are facing charges of conspiracy, importation of narcotic drug without authority and possession of narcotic drug. Their pleas have not yet been taken and they are in prison custody.
It is the case of the prosecution that during December 2012, NACOB, through its foreign counterparts, received intelligence that a cargo said to contain a quantity of cosmetics was heading to the Tema Harbour from Bolivia, and was suspected to contain some narcotic substances.
The State Attorney, Asiamah Sarpong, had informed the court that on January 29, 2013, the said cargo, which was shipped in a 40-footer container number MRK 257478-45 GI – belonging to the MAESRK Shipping Lines and consigned to the De Consumables Lines Limited, docked at the Tema Harbour and officers of NACOB, who were on alert immediately mounted surveillance on it.
He said on February 11, 2012, two clearing agents and a witness in the case arrived with the necessary documents to clear the goods.
According to him, the container, which arrived with seal number NL 014986 intact, as stated by the import documents, revealed that it was built to contain 22 pallets of assorted cosmetics.
However, the prosecutor noted that when it was opened for physical examination in the presence of the agent, 33 cartons containing a total of 174 green bottle of liquid substance suspected to be cocaine were concealed in surgical gloves.
The clearing agent denied knowledge of the alleged narcotic drug in the cargo but one of the agent told the investigator that the first accused person, a second hand cloth dealer, who is her client, introduced the second accused person to her as an importer of cosmetic products and who wanted his goods cleared for him, the prosecutor told the court.
The prosecutor therefore indicated that the witness had said she was subsequently persuaded with the necessary document in her office by the first and second accused persons who formerly engaged her to clear cargo for them.
Mr. Asiamah Sampong told the court that further investigations led to the current arrest of the first accused person at Aplaku junction, Weija, when he attempted to take delivery of the cargo.
The State Attorney again recounted that the first accused person admitted introducing the second accused person as the owner of the container, narrating that sometimes in 2011, the second accused person informed the first accused person about his desire to import cosmetic products from South America to Ghana.
The first accused, the prosecutor pointed out, continued that he assisted the second accused person to register the company, De- Consumables Limited at the Registrar General’s Department, adding that in December 2012, the second accused person came to him with import documents of cargo, which was on high seas from Bolivia to Tema Port.
“On February 21, 2013, the first accused person identified the second accused to NACOB authorities at the Accra Mall, after he was lured into the country from Nigeria through investigation.
“He admitted jointly importing a cargo of cosmetic with the first accused person and an accomplice currently at large. The second accused person blamed the first accused person and two others for concealing the alleged cocaine in the cargo”, the prosecutor told the court.
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