Former Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga, has said it is dishonest for government to suggest that a permit to import a large cache of arms was granted by the previous administration.
The Builsa North legislator and Ranking Member of Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee insists a letter released by Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, at a press release as evidence that the permit to import shotguns into the country was selectively interpreted.
“A quick glance at the concluding paragraph of the letter I signed simply requested the Director General of the CID to issue Yadco limited with an import permit in the following words: ‘The purpose of this note is to request you to issue the company with the Import Permit.’
“The question then to ask is when the actual import permit was issued? Without doubt, the actual import permit would have been issued long after the NDC had left office,” Mr Agalga said in the statement.
The government revealed at a press conference recently that a permit for the importation of some arms into the country for which the opposition NDC has raised concerns was signed by the party before it left office in 2017.
Accusing the NDC of double standards, the Information Minister, said Thursday that the former Deputy Interior Minister under the John Mahama-led administration gave approval for a company to import thousands of weapons for private use.
Supporting his claims with the letter authorising the imports, Oppong Nkrumah questioned why the party has turned around to accuse the government of a transaction they approved.
He told journalists at a news conference that, they discovered the “permit, pursuant to which this importation has been done, was issued two days to the handing over of power.
But in Mr Agalga’s response, he urged the ‘government to desist from its dishonest penchant to dabble in blame games at the least opportunity especially when high matters of State such as our collective security are at stake.”
Read Mr Agalga’s full response below
RE: ARMS IMPORTATION AND MATTERS ARISING
My attention has been drawn to the Information Minister, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah's press conference on the evening of Thursday the 16th day of May, 2019 at which event he sought to throw light on the controversy surrounding the importation of shot guns/ pump action guns into the country by Yadco company limited.
At the said press conference, Hon. Oppong Nkrumah put out in the public domain a document signed by me sometime in January 2017 in relation to Yadco’s authorisation to import shot guns into our country and concludes that; the NDC and not the NPP government ought to carry the blame for the importation of the shot guns into the country.
It is however pertinent to note that, Hon Oppong Nkrumah deliberately neglected and/or refused to make public the actual import permit under which the importation was done.
A quick glance at the concluding paragraph of the letter I signed simply requested the Director General of the CID to issue Yadco limited with an import permit in the following words;
“The purpose of this note is to request you to issue the company with the import Permit.”
The question then to ask is when the actual import permit was issued? Without doubt, the actual import permit would have been issued long after the NDC had left office.
It is also instructive to note that when a licensed importer of arms obtains permit from the CID and not the Interior Minister as is envisaged in my signed letter, the importer procedurally must obtain a delivery permit from the Interior Ministry before the imported arms can be cleared at the port. Once again, Hon Oppong Nkrumah failed to disclose to the good people of Ghana when the delivery permit was issued and who signed it. Without doubt, the delivery permit was issued in 2019 and could not have been the handiwork of the NDC when it was in power.
Furthermore, permits for arms importation are not granted in perpetuity. In fact, permits once issued have a lifespan of one year. Is it therefore the case that whatever permit the CID may have issued pursuant to my letter if any at all expired and was renewed? If so, can it be said that the NDC granted the renewal? Obviously it couldn’t have been the NDC government.
In conclusion, it is important to note that the press statement issued by the NDC on this subject matter which triggered Hon. Oppong Nkrumah’s press conference never called into question the legality or otherwise of the arms importation. Rather, what the statement sought to do was to remind government of the threat of terrorism on our northern frontier, increased incidents of kidnappings, armed robberies, contract killings and pervasive acts of vigilantism as reasons why President Akufo-Addo should consider the option of placing a moratorium on arms importation. After all, this is a tool successive NDC governments readily used whenever it was necessary to do. In any case, the security situation as at January 2017 is not the same as it is in May, 2019.
We urge Government to desist from its dishonest penchant to dabble in blame games at the least opportunity especially when high matters of State such as our collective security are at stake.
Hon. James Agalga
MP, Builsa North and Ranking Member, Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament.