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McDermott saga: Leave Wampah alone – Baako

The Governor of Ghana’s central bank must be left out of the McDermott saga, Kweku Baako Jr., has said.

Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile on Saturday March 19, the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide told Samson Lardy Anyenini that unless and until substantial evidence is adduced to prove that Dr Henry Kofi Wampah knew his son-in-law (David McDermott) was a wanted drug lord in the UK, and accommodated him nonetheless, he (Wampah) must be given the benefit of the doubt and spared criticism.

McDermott, 42, from Ormskirk, a target in Operation Captura – a collaboration between British and Spanish authorities to track down Britain’s most wanted fugitives in Spain – was arrested during a joint operation involving officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the UK and the Ghanaian Bureau of National Investigations on Friday March 11, in Accra.

Mr McDermott is suspected to have been a member of a Liverpool-based organised crime group, involved in a conspiracy to import and supply cocaine, which was seized from a container of frozen Argentinian beef in May 2013 at Tilbury Docks. He is also wanted for conspiracy to blackmail.

He was in possession of a Ghanaian passport with the name David Smith when he was arrested. He had lived in Ghana for three years and married Dr Wampah’s “step-daughter”, before his arrest in connection with the $71-million drug operation.

McDermott forayed into the mining industry while he lived as a free man in Ghana. Critics have wondered how McDermott could have stayed in Ghana for that long without being detected by both UK and Ghanaian intelligence. They have, thus, clamoured for Dr Wampah’s resignation over the matter.

However, Kweku Baako believes Dr Wampah must be spared the flak until he has been proven, through evidence, to have protected McDermott despite having known he was a fugitive drug lord.

Mr Baako Jr is in good company with security analyst Dr Kwesi Aning, who expressed similar sentiments in a recent interview with Accra FM.

Speaking with Chief Jerry Forson on Accra100.5FM’s morning show, Ghana Yensom, Dr Aning stated that questions will have to be asked of institutions that failed to track the movement of Mr McDermott.

“McDermott is a drug lord who has escaped from the UK. We know that when such a suspect flees, there will be an alert to the UK anti-drugs department and also to Interpol.

“Did they [police in Ghana] ever get an alert from Interpol? And if they did, when did they get it?”

He said the heads of certain specific institutions must be made to answer certain questions. ‘When did McDermott enter Ghana?’ Then you call the Passport boss and ask him: ‘When was his passport issued?’ Then, ask His Excellency Jon Benjamin (the British High Commissioner to Ghana) if he knows if an alert was issued for the arrest of McDermott, and if it was, when was it issued, and all that?’

“Once more, if the answers to these fit a certain pattern, then it relates to institutional failure once again. So, it’s not about having Act 526 of 1996, it’s not about having a Spy Bill, it’s about having the competent people – round pegs in round holes, and square pegs in square holes – to protect this country.

“And McDermott’s ability to stay here three years under cover raises fundamental issues. So, let’s put Dr Wampah out of this equation. There are other questions that can be raised, but let’s put Dr Wampah out, and let’s focus on possible institutional failures in this country that allowed this man to enter, allowed him to stay, get a Ghanaian passport, and to claim he was in the mining industry [as it] raises fundamental questions.”

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