Government has said a permit for the importation of some arms into the country for which the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has raised concerns, was signed by the party before it left office in 2017.
Accusing the opposition of double standards, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said Thursday that former Deputy Interior Minister under the John Mahama-led administration, James Agalga 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 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.
“It is only curious, that in this instance, the people who issued this permit are the ones shouting the loudest that something untoward has happened and we think that the people of Ghana must be given this information,” he added.
Related: Importation of guns increases tension unduly – NDC calls for temporary ban
The opposition NDC in a statement released on Wednesday, said it was alarmed over government’s decision to permit the recent importation of a large cache of arms into the country at a time when the security situation and issues with political militias, have dominated public discussions.
“And as if that is not fearful enough, there are further reports emerging of at least nine more containers full of weapons and apparently owned by the same person, being cleared at the port,” the statement said.
The NDC’s call came in the wake of inspection of some weapons by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority at the Tema Port.
But Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah expressed surprise at the turn of events.
For him, it is strange that the government under whose tenure the permit was issued, has turned around and is now accusing the Akufo-Addo administration of importing arms into the country.
The government has done no such thing, the Information Minister who is also MP for Ofoase-Ayirebi, said. He added that “the permit under which these arms were imported, was signed by James Agalga, MP and Deputy Minister for Interior on January 5, 2017.”
“So this permit we are talking about, which allowed these persons to import these cache or arms legally into the country, was issued on the 5 January 2017…and we find it strange that the very persons who issued the permit for the importation of these arms will today turn around and say 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,” he added.
He questioned whether the points of alarm raised by the NDC were not known to the party at the time the permit was issued.
“You can’t approbate and reprobate. You can’t do this and then when a new administration comes in and is the one that takes the necessary effort to secure the consignment and ensure that it is kept in a place and is not in the hands of people with doubtful character, then you turn around issuing statement as though something untoward had happened.”
The permit signed by Mr. Agalga in 2017 – two days before the NDC handed over power to the NPP
But the former Deputy Minister refuses to take the blame.
In an interview on Joy FM’s Top Story, Mr. Agalga was unsure if he issued the permit.
Until he is able to verify this, however, the Builsa North MP said, government could have prevented the arms from being imported.
“Licenses are not issued in perpetuity so if it was indeed issued on January 5 , that permit would not have been issued in perpetuity.
“And it [the permit] is for one year so if it was issued then, one year from then would be 2018 but the date of importation and clearance from the port is April 10, 2019, that is two clear years so further authorisation was given to enable the clearance to be done,” he added.
He stressed that “without further authorisation the clearance would have been impossible.”