The information available to the Herald, says that some police officers have been picked up and detained over the 436 illegal weapons and ammunitions impounded by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Reports had it that, the police officers refused to have the weapons released to their owners, despite incessant calls from “big men” in the government, senior police officials, as well as the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The Herald is withholding the details of the government officials, NPP Stalwarts, as well as the senior police officers for now.
But the calls and pressure became unbearable to the Marine Police, including the investigators thus forcing the station to implore the Customs officials to relocate the weapons to their armory.
Their stance is said to have infuriated the establishment.
Excerpts of the police diary on the weapons and ammunition in the public domain, thus provided a perfect ruse to victimize the police investigators for defying the unlawful orders to release the deadly objects heading to private hands, including armed bandits, especially robbers.
Meanwhile, the GRA has been accused of hiding the names and other details of some persons picked up by the state security apparatus for smuggling 436 pieces of pistols and ammunitions through the Tema Port.
This has left Ghanaians confused over the matter of the impounded guns at a time gun-related crimes are on the rise.
The revenue collector was rather worried at what it called mischievous and premature information that sought to imply that the 436 pieces of pistols and ammunitions seized on Friday were being kept to be released to some ‘big men’.
Ghana is less than three months to the 2020 generation election and many have predicted a fierce and violent polls because the stakes are high. The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) wouldn’t want to lose the contest just four years in office while the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) feels its record while office surpasses the NPP’s.
An official statement released by the Authority, confirmed the seizure of the weapons and said it is under police investigations, adding the container carrying the arms failed to declare them on arrival.
The story, earlier published by many news outlets had mentioned the owner of the consignment as one Felix Wallace as the owner of the illegal consignment but the GRA did mention any name at all except the designation of one person; the clearing agent whose company is being mentioned as Crystal Shipping.
The agent with Crystal Shipping had attempted clearing the consignment at the Tema Port on Friday, October 9, 2020, but was busted and led the police to arrest five others said to be owners of the various parcels that were consolidated into the container.
Port sources told Graphic Online that the arms were detected during a physical examination exercise on the container at the Terminal Three facility by officials of the Tema Command of Customs who then informed the Marine Police Unit and other security agencies at the port.
The Commander of the Marine Police Unit, Joseph Antwi-Ababio confirmed the incident to Graphic Online but said, further investigations were being carried out to ascertain the purpose for the importation.
The GRA Commissioner General, Ammishadai Owusu-Amoah who also corroborated the arrest said the guns and the ammunition were being kept at the armoury of GRA to allow for investigations.
He said that the six people in custody were identified as the owners of some of the parcels in the container.
“For now, I can’t say whether the importers had the necessary licences permitting them to undertake the importation of the arms since our officers at the port did not find any documentation covering the gun imports,” Mr Owusu-Amoah said.
He added that the importers and agent for the items also failed to list the pistols and ammunitions on the import declaration form that had the other items listed on it.
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Late Sunday, October 11, 2020, the Customs Division of the GRA confirmed the seizure of at the Tema Port saying the Authority in collaboration with some state authorities impounded a 20-footer container containing 436 pistols, 26 packs of 50 pieces of ammunition, and 1(40millimetre) piece of pepper spray, that were illegally imported from Turkey into Ghana.
The arms and ammunition were found to have been concealed in personal effects made up of clothing, shoes, and bags among other items.
GRA’s statement signed by its Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Florence Asante, stated that the arms were detected during a physical examination exercise on October 9, 2020, at the Terminal Three facility by officials of the Tema Command of Customs.
“The attention of the Ghana Revenue Authority has been drawn to information being circulated in the media about a consignment of goods that were seized by the Customs Division at the Tema port on Friday 9th October 2020. The Customs Division of the GRA wishes to put on record that: the container described on arrival at the Tema port as containing Personal Effects, Household Goods and a Carding Machine was flagged as ‘Red Channel”. After examination, eighteen (18) packages identified as restricted items were found in the container. These include 436 Pistols (Side Arms), 26 packs of 50 pieces of Ammunitions and 1 (40ml) piece of Pepper Spray,” the statement noted.
The statement further noted that the items had been imported into the country without the necessary permits from the Ministry of Interior and the items had also not been declared to Customs on arrival.
“An inventory of the items was taken in the presence of officers of the Preventive wing of the Customs Division (Intelligence & Examination Officer), Bureau of National Investigations, National Security and the Police. All representatives, including the clearing agent signed against the total number of arms and ammunitions seized. A seizure notice was issued to the clearing agent and the seized consignment was placed in the custody of the Customs Division,” it added.
The statement, however, noted that the arms and ammunition are currently being kept at the armoury of GRA to allow for investigations.
The clearing agent at the centre of the seizure is also currently assisting the Tema Harbour Police Command with the investigation.
The GRA further urges the public to desist from saying that the seized weapons and ammunition are being kept for onward release to some ‘big men’.