Until last Friday the saying that “the law is an ass” was exactly that to me – a saying. But thanks to a preposterous ruling by the three appeals court judges in the case of Kwabena Amaning and Alhaji Abass, I now know that the law, indeed, is an ass upon which criminals ride into undeserved freedom.
Lawyers for Tagor and Abass had argued in court that the judge who convicted them about two years ago did so without much evidence. That evidence was a tape recording of a conversation between Tagor, Abass, the former police director of operations, Kofi Boakye and some other suspected drug barons.
It’s one of the most titillating conversations ever recorded on tape in this country. It was quite a convivial gathering, where the police chief is heard on tape describing one of the suspected drug dealers as his “brother”.
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In their deliberations the men are heard discussing the disappearance of some 77 parcels of cocaine from a vessel which had been impounded and placed under tight security at the Tema Harbour. No one at the gathering claims responsibility for the theft of the parcels. But anyone who listens to that tape with his head properly screwed on will come to one conclusion: that these are men deeply involved and well-connected in the criminal underworld of drug traffickers.
“I told them that the people who seized the drugs, if it were the Ghana Police, I could talk to them but those Narcotics people at Ministries, it is difficult to talk to them,” Abass is heard saying on the tape.
And he continues: “I told them to ask them to show us where the goods were but Adda said he was sure some of the goods were on the boat. Adda promised to call and show me where the goods were but he did not call back. From there, I called Tagor and told him that there was some business in town and we didn’t know. Tagor promised to find out who was involved. Tagor called later and asked, did I know that Joe Bosby was spreading rumors that Tagor, Issa and Kofi Boakye were the ones behind the business? I told them that it was Narcotic, National security, Navy and Air force who seized the vessel. Rumors started spreading that the goods were with me.”
On the same tape Kofi Boakye exclaims: “we have to protect ourselves” and he goes on to say, “I am a Public Officer… if someone says I, Director of Operation is involved that’s bad.”
And then Tagor says something to the effect that he sold some “goods” on credit to some people in Holland after keeping them with him for so long.
Upon all of this, the appeals court claims that “No evidence on the said cassette could support the charge against [Tagor and Abass].”
At the meeting (over bottles of whiskey) in Kofi Boakye’s house there are repeated references to “goods” and every sensible man should know that when suspected drug dealers speak about “goods” they are not referring to tins of mackerel or bars of key soap.
In fact, somewhere in the conversation one of the participants, Kwabena Acheampong says “the goods [weigh] 1800kgs”.
This, for me, is an indication that the guys were talking about “goods” which are sold by the weight. And since it wasn’t a gathering of cattle dealers, we can be sure that they were not talking about meat. Neither were they talking about rice, tomatoes, personal computers or home theatre systems.
In their conversation, they mention Benjamin (which is the name of the vessel) as well as the navy, police, national security and the Narcotics Control Board. They speak about the former deputy executive director of the Narcotics Control Board and some Columbians. One of them specifically mentions “drugs”. If you listen to the conversation very well, you don’t need the intellect of Gary Kasparov to be able to piece the jigsaw together.
If this is not evidence enough that the guys were talking about cocaine, I don’t know what else the appeals court judges want.
The judge who sentenced Tagor and Abass to 15 years imprisonment had his head properly screwed on. He knew what the “goods” they mentioned referred to. And that’s why he rightfully jailed Tagor and Abass. Those three appeals court judges who decided to set them free must have misplaced a few of the screws that should have kept their heads in firmly place. Their reasoning leaves too much to be desired.
First, they say “goods” could refer to several other things – and not just cocaine. That’s true. The appeals court asserts that prosecution should have put someone from the criminal underworld in the witness stand to show that “goods” referred to cocaine. That could have helped. But it was unnecessary. In their conversation, the gentlemen spoke about the Narcotics Control Board. They all wanted to know where the drugs which had disappeared from the MV Benjamin were being kept. They speak about Columbians – the most prolific producers of cocaine on this planet. Where on this earth will a bunch of meat packers or gold miners concern themselves about cocaine like Tagor, Kofi Boakye and the others did?
The judges also claim, rather foolishly, that the recorded deliberations in Kofi Boakye’s house were private and that “the said conversation could not be termed as a confession statement.” And this is where the judgment gets too ridiculous for anyone to stomach.
Are the appeals court judges saying that if they heard me on tape discussing a subversive plot with a friend, outlining my plans to overthrow the government they would ignore the conversation and let me go scot-free? Are they saying that if they heard some PNDC cadres on tape discussing how they conspired and succeeded in killing the Justices Sarkodie, Koranteng-Addo and Agyapong in 1982, they would refuse to admit that tape in evidence and let the culprits brought before them off the hook?
Tagor and Abass should not be breathing the same air of freedom law abiding citizens enjoy – even if there’s some sort of quid pro quo arrangement under which they are going to be used to jail some bigger fish. They should be back in jail as soon as possible.
The Attorney General should be knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court this week to argue that Tagor and Abass deserve to be behind bars and that the judges who ordered their release should have their heads re-examined and their skulls scrubbed with ‘Vim’ for their outrageous and shameful ruling. That ruling must be overturned because it sets a bad precedent and grants drug barons the licence to carry on their illicit dealings with impunity.
Read the transcript of that conversation in Kofi Boakye’s house: atokd.com/blogContent.aspx