Imported arms controversy: ‘Weapons pose security threat’ – Abotsi

Imported arms controversy: ‘Weapons pose security threat’ – Abotsi
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | george.nyavor@myjoyonline.com
Date: 18-05-2019 Time: 05:05:58:pm

Private legal practitioner, Kofi Abotsi, has expressed concern over a permit granted to a private firm to import a large cache of arms into the country.

Mr Abotsi said on Newsfile on Saturday that, although the importation of the weapons is backed by law, the presence of the weapons poses a security threat.

“The fundamental issue to consider is what are the pragmatic considerations [for allowing the importation of the guns],” he demanded.

The weapons include short guns, pump action with a magazine, pump action without a magazine, automatic pistol grip and pact pump action. The total number of weapons was estimated at about 1,575 short guns and pump actions.

Ghana may be creating a mini-militia if the weapons find their way into private hands, he feared.

He said, considering that the police are not well-resourced, state authorities “may be creating an organised force that may challenge the main police force.”

Background

The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) last week refuted claims that a container load of sophisticated guns including AK 47 assault rifles, arrived at the Tema Port.   

Head of Preventive of the Customs Division of the GRA, Joseph Oppong Aboagye, assured the public that no such weapons had been imported into the country.

This was made known at the Old State Warehouse, Tema Main Harbour after an inspection was carried out on a container to determine whether it indeed contained those weapons as was speculated.   

Mr Joseph Oppong Aboagye indicated that the items found in the container were identified and were as presented in the documents.

“They were short guns, pump action with magazine, pump action without magazine, automatic pistol grip and pact pump action. They all use the same ammunition with 12 gauges. The total number of items was about 1,575 short guns and pump actions.” 

They later discovered, Yadco Ltd, the importer, had a license issued by the Interior Ministry to do so.


Political turn

The matter took a political turn when the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) raised concerns about the presence of the large cache of arms in the country – especially in the wake of security challenges facing the country.

But the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) accused the NDC of double standards because the permit granted to Yadco Ltd to bring in the arms, were issued under the erstwhile NDC administration – days to leaving office.

Related: Agalga responds to arms importation controversy; says gov’t being dishonest

Police challenge

On Newsfile, Mr Abotsi’s concern was not who issued the permit but what the presence of the arms means to the fight against crime.

“If we are issuing it out to some people who are engaged in mining, are they going to use it in their individual capacities or are they going to use it as an organised entity. If they are going to use it as an organised entity then you are presenting yourself with a police challenge,” he said.

He added: “It will mean that if there is any problem anywhere and the police had to confront these people and then these organised entities are more armed or better armed than the police,” then that presents a challenge.

A law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law School, Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee, has also urged the government to ensure that the weapons do not get into wrong hands.

Watch the video below for more on the discussion on the imported arms controversy on Newsfile