Friends and relatives joined eight accused persons to weep at the Accra Fast Track High court, after a judge handed down a total sentence of 16 years with hard labor. The trial judge, Justice Bright Mensah, found the accused persons guilty for aiding and abetting in the smuggling of cocoa out of the country. It was a scene of wailing and loud cries when the convicts were being escorted out of court to begin their prison terms.

Each convict caught on hidden camera by investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas, is to serve a two year jail term on charges of abetment and receiving bribes. The charges run concurrently.

In sentencing them, the trial judge stated that; the intention to commit a crime constituted abetment under Section 20 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act 29/1960, and thus convicted all those seen collecting or counting money in the video.

Some of the relatives of the convicted persons started cursing Anas when they got out of the court premises; “God will curse that Anas boy for bringing his cameras to create all this problems, our God is not asleep,” they charged.

The case was handled on behalf of the State by Principal State Attorney, Evelyn Ama Keelson. She was assisted by Nana Adoma Osei, an Assistant State Attorney.

How It Happened

The facts of the case were extracted from an investigative documentary film titled, “In the Interest of the State” published in April 2010 by Anas and his Tiger Eye PI team.

The film detailed how corrupt activities on the part of some officers of Customs Excise Preventive Services (CEPS), the Ghana Police Service and Ghana Immigration Service resulted in the smuggling of cocoa beans from Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire. A situation that robbed Ghana of needed revenue which ended up in the pocket of these corrupt officials.

Anas’s private investigations company, Tiger Eye PI, was approached by the Ghana Cocoa Board on how best to arrest the spate of cocoa smuggling especially along Ghana’s western frontiers.

Hidden Camera in Action

After a series of reconnaissance efforts that confirmed the corrupt acts of some officers of the security agencies, Anas and his team set up base in Dadieso, Kwesi Nrumah, Kukumso, Aberewakrom among other places.

The team filmed the activities and dealings of these officers over several months. Amongst others infractions, the team captured on video (hidden camera) how some officers were aiding the smuggling of Ghana’s cocoa into neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. An act that was negatively affecting revenue due to the state.

At a point in the investigation, one Mr. Daniel Ibrahim Bepoh, Elubo district manager of Armajaro Ghana Limited a produce buying company caused the arrest of Anas when he tried to bribe him.

That however did not hault the investigations especially as officers of Police, Immigration and CEPS showed their readiness at every approach to take monies and allow the team to transport bags of cocoa from Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire.

The team was able to bust the clique that also involved some smuggling kingpins involving taxi drivers, ordinary members of the public who knew the underhand deals and who to contact for successful operations.

April 2010: the Story Breaks

The story broke as a documentary film entitled “In the Interest of State” but also in print publications carried by the New Crusading GUIDE newspaper. When the story broke, 14 officers were picked up and arraigned before a circuit court in Accra. Out of the 14, three were acquitted on a submission of no case.

Anas

The remaining 11 were ordered by the court to open their defense in February last year after the court held that they had a case to answer. Anas testified in court as a police witness during the trial.

Of the 11 on trial, the court acquitted another three, Rockson Eric Appeadu and Isaac Kwaku Asare Darko both of CEPS and Kofi Aboagye, an Immigration Officer; on grounds that the evidence submitted against them was not solid, adding that; “they threw doubt which could not be resolved during proceedings.”

Beyond the arrest of individuals, three Cocoa Marketing Companies; Armajaro Ghana Limited, Diabe and Transroyal were also banned by the Ghana Cocoa Board on grounds that their officials were engaged in acts that facilitated the smooth operation of smugglers.

Plea for Mitigation

Prior to the sentencing, lawyers for the eight convicted persons pleaded for mitigation of sentences on grounds that their clients were first time offenders, they had lost their jobs and suffered enough stigma; but that was not accepted by the trial judgeJustice Bright Mensah’s main reason to hand down a custodial sentence instead of a fine being that smuggling of cocoa out of the country had become rampant.

The convicted persons included Gabriel Dimado, William Festus Yawson, Steven Sowah, Nii Armah Adolf, James Dzamesi, Paul Dzamesi all were CEPS collection assistants.

Others were Police constable J.K. Boakye and an Immigration Officer, Mate-Korle.

After the publication of the investigative findings, the Ghana Cocoa Board recorded significant increases in cocoa revenue accruing to the state and a drop in the cases of cocoa smuggling along Ghana’s western boarders.

In an interview with Anas, he emphasized that the courts had just completed his three pronged mantra of “Name, Shame and Jail,” and that it was a forward march in the anti corruption and nation building efforts.

Published On: September 26th, 2014 / Categories: News /

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Anas Aremeyaw Anas is a Ghanaian investigative journalist born in the late 1970s. He specializes in print media and documentary and is politically non-aligned focusing on issues of human rights and anti-corruption in sub-Saharan Africa. Anas' motto is "name, shame and jail", and he is famous for utilizing his anonymity as a tool in his investigative arsenal. Very few people had seen his face (until an "unmasking" during a BBC interview in November 2015 —which revealed yet another prosthetic).

Anas has won more than 50 international and local awards for his work advocating basic human rights, such as the right to not be held in human slavery and for his work exposing corruption. His investigative works have won him worldwide acclaim, including President Barack Obama highlighting him in a speech during a 2009 visit to Ghana: "An independent press”, a vibrant private sector, a civil society….those are the things that give life to democracy. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth.”

Anas hail from Bimbilla in Northern Ghana and grew up in Burma Camp, a military barracks in Accra. He attended the Christian Methodist Secondary School and Ghana Institute of Journalism where he got his first diploma before studying his first degree at the University of Ghana. He later attended the Faculty of Law and the Ghana Law School.

After university he turned down an opportunity to work as a reporter for the Ghanaian Times newspaper, instead choosing to join The Crusading Guide newspaper in 1998. The editor of the newspaper, Kweku Baako Jnr, had just been released from jail in the same year. Anas later became co-publisher of The New Crusading Guide, and subsequently opened his own production and investigation company, Tiger Eye PI Media, in 2008.

Anas has collaborated widely with Al-Jazeera and the BBC, among other international clients. In 2017 he started The Tiger Eye Foundation as a media non- profit and 501c3, in the USA and Ghana, that uses a dynamic set of initiatives to promote and elevate the standards in journalism. The foundation educates and supports journalists through hands-on investigative journalism workshops, multimedia boot camps, investigative productions, broadcasts and community outreach programs. Anas was called to the Bar in 2013, and since then has mostly defended himself in court.

In December 2015 Foreign Policy magazine named Anas one of 2015's leading global thinkers, an honour previously granted to the likes of Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI, and Malala Yousafzai. He is consistently invited to talk on his work at gatherings all around the world and in March 2016, Anas was invited by Harvard Law School as a keynote speaker to share his experiences creating change on the continent of Africa. In 2016 Anas had an award named after him by the Press Foundation in Ghana. The founder of the press foundation Mr Listowel Yesu Bukarson said: "This award was named after the world-renowned investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas to aid journalists to climb to the highest apogee in their chosen profession". 'Chameleon’ by Ryan Mullins, a documentary about Anas's life and work, was premiered at the 2014 IDFA festival in Amsterdam.

In the period from October to December 2016, Anas made his first foray into public life, outside of the world of investigative journalism, as a powerful advocate for peace in his "Anas4Peace" multimedia campaign, using Ghanaian celebrities to advocate for peace during the Ghana election period.

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