The Aflao sector of the Customs division (CD) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) deflated the diplomatic immunity of the Red Cross Society when it intercepted two 40-footer cargo trucks loaded with uncustomed goods at the Aflao checkpoint.
The two trucks were found loaded with 111 cartons of “Fine” brand of King Size filtered cigarettes.
The trucks, with Ivorian vehicle registration numbers 434MD279 and 434MD220 and branded “Red Cross Geneva”, were part of a convoy of United Nations Red Cross cargo in transit from Lagos in Nigeria to the Ivory Coast.
Vigilance against terrorism
Speaking at a press briefing, the Aflao sector commander, Madam Augustina Dede-Quaye, said the CD had stepped up vigilance in view of threats of terrorists attack on the country and therefore decided to change the modus operandi at the border.
She said one of the decisions was to conduct random checks on diplomatic vehicles and other organisations and bodies that enjoyed UN protocols to ensure national security.
Madam Dede-Quaye said the vehicles were intercepted after they had ignored directives to go through necessary checks but went ahead to discharge the illicit cargo at an obscured place where they were spotted by a customs official and an officer of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
She said the two officers escorted them back to the duty post where the vehicles were searched and found to have concealed several cartons of uncustomed cigarettes.
When the two drivers were interrogated they claimed to have been engaged by a private hotelier in Togo to assist him in conveying the cigarette across the border, she stated.
Consequently the two vehicles and the cigarettes had been impounded pending action from the Commissioner of the CD.
Madam Dede-Quaye said although the CD was still conscious of diplomatic privileges accorded certain institutions including the Red Cross, it had become necessary to conduct searches in the face of threats of terrorist attacks on the country.
She therefore warned that there would be no compromise with people engaged in such illegal activities across the borders and that the security agents were alert to clamp down on people who would attempt to put the country’s peace on the line.