Former Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga, has described as dishonest, government’s attempt to suggest that the permit for the importation of large quantities of pump action and shot guns into the country for private use was done during the erstwhile Mahama administration.
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah last Thursday disclosed that the But government says it can confirm that the Mahama Administration under the NDC issued permit for the importation of the arms before leaving office in January 2017.
His comment came on the back of accusations by the NDC that the Akufo-Addo administration had authorised the importation of the weapons at a time the country was grappling with the threat of terrorism.
But Mr Oppong Nkrumah told Journalists in Accra that the permit was signed by the then Deputy Minister for Interior under the Mahama Administration, James Agalga on 5th January, 2017.
Responding to the allegations by Mr Oppong Nkrumah, Mr Agalga in a press statement on Saturday indicated that the letter he signed on the said subject was simply a request to the Director General of the CID for an import permit for the importer.
Below is the full statement
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.