Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Ghana: Arms trafficked to Nigeria may have been intended for terrorism

The Attorney-General's office, including its senior officials, have been the subject of considerable criticism in recent months, particularly in connection with high profile financial scandals, whether in turning a blind-eye to corruption, in inadequately prosecuting a corruption case, or actually being penalised – like former Attorney-General Martin Amidu – for alleging that “gargantuan corruption” has occurred.

Last week - during a bail hearing for defendants in an arms smuggling case that was reported in Ghana Politics & Security earlier this year - the Attorney-General's office claimed that the arms and munitions that were discovered and confiscated in transit to Nigeria were actually intended to assist terrorist activities in the neighbouring country. The three defendants in the case, who were denied bail following the prosecution's claims, could face life sentences for their actions with the case being big enough to attract senior attorney-general involvement. Their defence is that they were employed, prior to their arrest, by an arms-selling company called Globat although when captured it did not appear they were on assignment for any recognised company.

Although the case appears relatively minor, the severity of recent Nigerian terrorist activity notwithstanding, it can be viewed in conjunction with the increase of smuggling and criminal activity in Ghana in general. This includes drug smuggling, the spectre of piracy, and the corresponding need for the government to crack down on such activity and to be seen to do so. This is especially so because it involves one of Ghana's regional neighbours and the backdrop of increased ECOWAS cooperation against these criminal scourges.

The cocaine-for-baking powder story covered in Ghana Politics & Security at the end of 2011, even though the size of the cocaine court exhibit which disappeared was a drop in the ocean, illustrated the disorganisation and infighting among the police force and the judiciary over what should have been a straightforward case eventually required investigations and a report for the president. Hopefully this arms-smuggling case will be investigated and prosecuted without any major mishap.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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