The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has arrested a man for allegedly orchestrating a fake coup plot by exiled Ivorians in Ghana.
The man, who masterminded the so-called coup plot, managed to convince the Ivorian authorities to arrest those purported to have planned the fake coup against the Ivorian government.
Prosper Tao Tsikata, 52, who has gained notoriety in advance fee fraud, popularly called “419”, was arrested by the BNI on July 13,2012 pursuant to reports citing him for his involvement in the plot for his selfish and parochial interest.
Prosper was reported to have identified some Ivorian soldiers in Ghana and introduced himself to them as a retired Commissioned Officer of the Ghana Army who now runs a private security company, apparently impersonating Capt. Kojo Tsikata (retd), a former security boss in Ghana.
According to Notre Voie, an Ivorian newspaper, an anonymous French intelligence undercover agent was sent to Ghana to closely monitor the activities and movements of Ivorian soldiers in Ghana with the view to exposing possible acts of subversion directed at the Alhassane Ouattara government.
The newspaper in its issue dated June 25, 2012 published the story of the unnamed French agent which revealed that Prosper Tsikata was the mastermind of the alleged coup plot against the Ouattara government which led to the arrest of Col Kate Gnatoa and Lida Kouassi, both loyalists of the erstwhile Gbagbo regime, who until then, were in exile in Togo.
Lida Kouassi has been identified as a minister in the former government.
Briefing the Daily Graphic Monday, a Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said Tsikata managed to convince some of the soldiers that he was a sympathiser of former President Laurent Gbagbo and that not only was he capable, but interested in helping to topple the Ouattara government by way of pre-financing its overthrow with the requisite cash, arms, vehicles and other logistics.
He said while majority of the soldiers contacted were suspicious of the move, others decided to play ball.
Tsikata, according to Mr Ablakwa, proposed the idea of preparing a video recording to serve as a coup introductory declaration.
He said in the video recording, Col Gnatoa, who read the coup message, was flanked by six other exiled Ivorian soldiers, all in military uniforms and boots provided by Tsikata.
Mr Ablakwa said investigations later established that the video recording was done in Tsikata’s private office near Top Herbal at Haatso in Accra.
According to him, one of the exiled soldiers, identified only as Stone, took custody of the video clip after an initial disagreement with Tsikata. He said Tsikata then travelled Abidjan and contacted the Ivorian government, particularly Hamed Bakayoko, the Ivorian Minister of the Interior, and informed him that some Ivorians resident in Ghana were preparing to overthrow the Ouattara government.
To carry out his plan of duping the Ivorian government, he said Tsikata returned to Ghana to inform Gnatoa and his group that he (Tsikata) had deployed a number of armed troops in Abidjan for the take-over and also made arrangement for the video clip to be played on national Television in Abidjan, with the view to causing confusion and chaos to facilitate the take-over by the Gbagbo loyalists.
Mr Ablakwa said Tsikata also informed Gnatoa that he (Gnatoa) was to become the next Head of State if the coup succeeded and advised Gnatoa to release the video clip to him (Tsikata).
He said Gnatoa subsequently asked Stone to “release the clip to Tsikata while they got ready to travel to Abidjan to execute the coup plot.
He said after taking possession of the clip, Tsikata took it to Bakayoko to convince him and the group that his information about the coup plot was real.
Mr Ablakwa said Tsikata was then paid $200,000 of the $12 million he demanded from the Ivorian government for helping it quell the coup.
According to him, Tsikata then returned to Ghana to lure Gnatoa to a hideout in Abidjan where he (Tsikata) later led armed men for Gnatoa’s arrest.
Tsikata is believed to be of Nigerian origin, but has assumed Ghanaian status and operates his 419 business as a Ghanaian.
He is known to be a fraudster who hides behind the alias of Tsikata, a brand name in Ghana known within political circles to hoodwink unsuspecting persons, particularly prospective gold buyers, on his way to fleecing them of large sums of money.