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The government has debunked claims that it approved the recent importation of a large cache of arms into the country.

The government has debunked claims that it approved the recent importation of a large cache of arms into the country.

According to the opposition National Democratic Congress, the Akufo-Addo government authorised the importation of the weapons at a time when the country is grappling with the threat of terrorism.

However, the government has confirmed that the NDC, under the Mahama government, issued the permit for the importation of the firearms and ammunition.

Speaking to journalists in Accra, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the permit was signed by the then Deputy Minister for the Interior, James Agalga.

The letter

In a letter dated January 5 2017, titled “Application for Permission to Import Safety Cartridges”, Mr Agalga granted permission to the importer to import 20,000 cases of 500 pieces of shotgun cartridges, 4,000 pieces of hunting shotguns and 500 boxes of percussion caps.

“Permission is hereby granted to M/s Yadco to import the underlisted explosives and accessories for the use of their clients who are all engaged in mining and quarry sectors.

This permit is not transferrable. This permit does not require the authorisation of ECOWAS,” Mr Agalga’s letter said.

Curious timing

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said: “It is curious that after the election of 2016, two days to the handing over, on January 5 2017, at a time of the transition, this permit was issued on the blind side of everyone.”

The Minister however said when the consignment arrived, it was duly inspected in accordance with standard practice and was delivered to a designated storage area.

“The state security agencies are ensuring that the consignment does not get into the hands of unauthorised persons,” he said.

NDC issues statement

In a statement, the NDC said it was alarmed by the government’s decision to permit the importation of such a large cache of arms into the country.

“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 party’s statement said.

Denies responsibility

Even though the permit allowing the company to import the arms was issued by Mr Agalga, the former Deputy Interior Minister has refused to take responsibility. In a press interview, he even said he is not sure if indeed he issued the permit.

Claiming he would have to verify the claim, the Builsa North MP insisted that the government could have prevented the arms from being imported.

“Licences are not issued in perpetuity so if it was indeed issued on January 5 [2017], that permit would not have been issued in perpetuity,” he said.

“And it 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,” Mr Agalga said.