Almost 1,500 bags of cocoa that were on their way to being smuggled into neighboring countries have been recovered in the past two weeks by the Ghana Cocoa Board’s (COCOBOD) Anti-smuggling Task Force in cooperation with the security forces. The victory over smugglers between the first and second weeks of March was achieved, according to Mr. Charles Amenyaglo, Director of Special Services at COCOBOD, through a system put in place by COCOBOD that offers incentives for collaborators. He said that the beans came from the Western North and Volta regions, and that arrests were made during the transit of the beans in Greater Accra, Volta, and the Western North regions.
On March 6, the Mamprobi Police Unit in the Greater Accra region, acting on a tip-off, stopped 508 bags of regular cocoa beans and 72 bags of waste cocoa beans coming from Sefwi Bekwai in a Howo truck with the license plate GS 854-21. Abdul Rahman Amadu, the driver, claimed that he was hired at a truck stop to pack the cocoa beans for delivery to Accra. He was detained at a school in Mamprobi, which functioned as the dumping site, as he was re-bagging the beans from jute bags into polythene sacks to avoid security inspections. Rahman and two others believed to be labourers have been granted bail with one surety each and are to reappear before Circuit Court 6 in Accra on April 13. According to Mr Charles Amenyaglo, the cocoa beans were released to COCOBOD the next day to prevent deterioration. “The beans were not thoroughly dried before they were transported and some were drenched in rainwater through transit. We had to immediately evacuate them to our Take-Over Centre at Tema for drying, reconditioning and rebagging.” Following this, 511 bags of good cocoa beans, weighed 64kg per bag and 123 bags of waste cocoa beans weighed 50kg per bag were collected.
The Anti-Smuggling Taskforce of COCOBOD also saved about 399 bags of cocoa beans from smugglers who were carting them from Dunkwa-on-Offin and Sefwi Bekwai in the Western North region to the Ivory Coast on March 13. The trucks with registration numbers, AS 885 – 19 and AS 7457 – 17 have been impounded while the drivers have been granted police enquiry bail pending further investigations. Meanwhile, a 42-year-old Nigerian national, Isaac Oluwaje who claims ownership of 406 bags of cocoa beans, which was intercepted by a surveillance team of the Special Services Directorate of COCOBOD while being conveyed to Togo through the Volta region, has also been arrested.
Oluwaje asserts that he acquired the cocoa at Bonsu Nkwanta in the Western North region through a business associate in order to resell it in Togo.
Oluwaje had rebagged part of the cocoa beans in poly bags together with the driver of the track with registration number GX 7632 – 14 to evade detection. Following their appearance before the court, both are still in police detention for failing to comply with their bail requirements. A Circuit Court in Denu, also in the Volta area, remanded two alleged cocoa smugglers in detention. Ebenezer Tetteh, the renowned bean owner, and Francis Awuah, a truck driver, were detained on March 13 as a result of a joint operation by COCOBOD and the Aflao Command of the National Investigation Bureau (NIB).
The truck with the license plate GX 8579 – 22 traveled without incident from the Greater Accra area to the Volta region, where they were detained as they crossed Ghana’s main border crossing into Togo. The truck passed by representatives of other State Security Agency without being stopped until it was stopped by an NIB officer at the border, according to discreet checks, which Mr. Amenyaglo highlighted as concerning. He further revealed that an attempt was made to pay the officer 25,000 cedis to get him to release the truck of cocoa beans. He affirmed that COCOBOD will continue to collaborate with security agencies to impede smugglers’ attempts and urged the public to share information to aid in the capture of offenders. He assured of anonymity and reward for all informants.