A relative of President Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, has said the owner of Yadco, the company that recently imported a cache of arms into the country, is a brother to a former Secretary for the Interior during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime.
“The Company which imported the arms, YADCO, is owned by Yaw Djin. You may recall, his brother, Kofi Djin, was the PNDC Secretary for the Interior (1982 to 1985). Yaw Djin has been in the business of legitimately importing arms since the 80s”, Mr Asare Otchere-Darko asserted on Facebook.
Mr Otchere-Darko made the comments hours after a Deputy Minister for the Interior in the erstwhile Mahama administration, Mr James Agalga, said the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, was dishonest when he revealed on Thursday, 16 May 2019 that the recently-impounded truckload of arms and ammunition at the Tema Port was Okayed by the previous administration just two days before it exited power in 2017 after losing the 7 December 2016 general elections.
At a news conference at the Ministry of Information, Mr Nkrumah referred to a permit letter signed by Mr Agalga dated 5 January 2017, in which the erstwhile administration granted M/S Yadco Ghana the permit to import 20,000 cases of 500 pieces of Shotgun cartridges, 4,000 pieces of hunting shotguns and 500 boxes of percussion caps into the country.
Mr Nkrumah, therefore, said: "We find it strange that the very persons who issued the permit for the importation of these arms, will today turn around and say that the Akufo-Addo administration has issued permits and, therefore, has to take the security situation of this country a lot more seriously than it is doing now".
Reacting to the Information Minister's claims in a statement, Mr Agalga said: “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 shotguns/ 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 shotguns into our country and concludes that; the NDC and not the NPP government ought to carry the blame for the importation of the shotguns 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.’”
Mr Agalga added: “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 a 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 a 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 the 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 of January 2017 is not the same as it is in May 2019.
“We urge 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.”
According to Mr Otchere-Darko, however, the NDC keeps shifting the pole vis-à-vis the arms import, stating: “It defines the NDC. First, they blamed the NPP for the importation of the arms, making it seem untoward; a security threat. When it was pointed out that the NDC granted the permit after losing 2016, their response was to say it was legitimate then but that the NPP could have still revoked it! They just don’t give up!”
He added: “It is the same campaign message John Mahama will use on the economy for 2020. They caused the socio-economic mess which the NPP is fixing at some great (but lesser) cost to the people. Yet, Mahama will turn around and blame Akufo-Addo for causing hardships!”