The Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) has jumped to the defence of its sniffer dogs at the cargo section of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), denying vehemently that the dogs were tired and did not work on February 26, this year.
This follows an allegation leveled against officials of NACOB by the firebrand Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central in the Central Region, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, to the effect that they (dogs) were being ‘controlled’ by elements that have ‘sinister’ motives against the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
The MP had alleged on Oman FM’s ‘Boiling Point’ programme last Thursday that NACOB officials had said their sniffer dogs were tired when a disagreement ensued between National Security operatives and a private company, GH-Swissport Ghana Ltd. – a cargo handling entity headed by a Lebanese – at the airport.
According to the MP, the disagreement was over some cars that former President John Mahama’s younger brother Ibrahim Mahama sent to the cargo section to be shipped abroad for servicing on February 26, 2018.
“Can you believe that during the stalemate between National Security officials and Swissport Limited over Ibrahim’s cars, NACOB was brought in but they said their dogs were tired?” the MP queried.
Following Mr Kennedy Agyapong’s assertion, NACOB issued a statement through its Communication Media Relations & Protocol Unit yesterday saying, “NACOB’s sniffer dogs did work at the Swissport.”
The statement narrated, “On Monday, 26 February and Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, the Narcotics Control Board was called upon to assist in a search operation at Swissport at the Kotoka International Airport. In both instances, NACOB consequently deployed four (4) narcotic detective dogs; namely IRIS, CORA, VIKA and KEA, with their technical handlers from the Canine Unit of NACOB to conduct the search operation.”
It said, “The Canine Team on Monday, 26 February, arrived at the Swissport at 08:39 hours for the exercise. Two (2) vehicles, a Nissan GT and a Mercedes Benz AMG, were the objects of interest. The search team had to wait for some time for the vehicles to be driven from their location to the scene of the examination.”
The statement said the vehicles were made available over three hours later.
“NACOB’s Canine Team at 11:42 hours made the two (2) vehicles available for search. The vehicles, on arrival at the examination scene, had to cool down for some few minutes before the security agencies took turns to conduct their examination,” the statement indicated.
It said NACOB was the first to conduct its search, followed by BNI and the National Security, adding, “Present at the scene for the examination, apart from the security agencies, was the clearing agent for the consignment.”
The statement pointed out that “the four (4) narcotic detective dogs; IRIS, CORA, VIKA and KEA were deployed for the search one at a time, till all four (4) had taken turns for the exercise. The detective dogs diligently searched all the two (2) vehicles, but found no illicit narcotic substance. At the end of the entire search operation, the search parties were debriefed and dismissed accordingly.”
It further stated, “For the search operation on Wednesday, February 28, three (3) vehicles were the objects of interest: a Brabus AMG 850, a Bentley Mulsanne and a Brabus Mercedes AMG.
“NACOB’s detective dogs, IRIS, CORA, VIKA and KEA arrived at the Swissport at 11:00 hours for the search operation. The three (3) vehicles were opened for examination a few minutes upon the arrival of the Canine Team.
“NACOB was the first to conduct its search, followed by BNI and National Security. The clearing agent was again present for the examination.
“The four (4) narcotic detective dogs were again deployed for the search one at a time, till all four (4) had taken turns for the exercise. Each dog diligently searched all the three (3) vehicles but found no illicit narcotic substance. At the end of the entire search operation, the search parties were debriefed and dismissed accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Mr Ibrahim Mahama has reacted to the allegations by the MP through his aide, Sammy Gyamfi, saying, “Mr Ibrahim Mahama is a law abiding citizen and a responsible businessman who always adheres to the laws of Ghana in all his dealings. The practice of shipping vehicles abroad for servicing is a normal practice which does not violate any Ghanaian or international law.”
Claiming he was setting the records straight, Ibrahim’s boy said in a statement, “On 30th October, 2017, one (1) S Class Mercedes Brabus Benz belonging to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama and two (2) other cars (1 Bentley Mulsanne and 1 S Class Mercedes Benz) belonging to other prominent persons, were sent by agents of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama through the KIA to Germany for repairs. These cars were subjected to all the requisite security checks at both the departure and arrival points at the KIA and the Luxembourg Airport respectively.”
According to him, “These three (3) cars, after undergoing repairs in Germany, were brought back into the country by agents of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama on Tuesday, the 27th of February, 2017, after they had been subjected to the necessary security checks at the Luxembourg Airport in Germany.”
Mr Sammy Gyamfi stated, “The cars, upon their arrival at the Cargo section of the KIA, were thoroughly checked and cleared by the Customs Division at the KIA on the 27th of February, 2018, and a clearance document was issued to that effect. In spite of this fact, the three (3) cars were not released to us on the 27th of February, 2018 because National Security and NACOB officials at the KIA had insisted on conducting additional security checks on the cars.”
The aide contradicted NACOB by saying that eight instead of the four sniffer dogs mentioned by the anti-drug agency Ibrahim’s did the check.
Ibrahim’s boy said “and so on the following day, the NACOB division at the KIA together with National Security operatives at the KIA subjected all the 3 cars to another round of rigorous security checks during which eight (8) sniffer dogs checked each of the three (3) cars. After this process, the three (3) cars were cleared and released to agents of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama on Wednesday the 28th of February 2018.
“Also, the claim that four (4) other cars had been brought to the KIA by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama for shipment abroad at the time the three (3) cars arrived in Ghana is false. The two cars in question do not belong to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama and were not being transported abroad by him. In short, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama had nothing to do with those two (2) cars.”
The statement further indicated, “The claim that all the three (3) cars that came had wrong identification documentations, except one that was registered in the name of Engineers and Planners, is palpably false. On the contrary, all the three (3) cars had all the proper documentations and were duly cleared by the Customs Division and all the security agencies at KIA, led by the Coordinator of Airport security, Colonel Gaisie.”