Ghanaian President John Mahama Negotiates For The Release Of A Convicted Drug Dealer
By Jeff Pike
John Mahama, Ghana’s President was in the UK for three days, from the 1st to the 3rd of December 2015, purportedly to attend a meeting of some selected African heads of government with investment magnates, at Westminster. Besides the meeting with investors which occasioned his travel on the Ghana’s presidential jet to the UK, John Dramani Mahama who is desperate to retain a second term at the polls is on a quest to avail the players and architects of his first victory. As a result a crunch closed door meeting at his central London hotel with Mr Victor Smith, the Ghana high commissioner in the UK and charged him with a responsibility to secure, on his behalf, the release of Miss Nayeli Ametefe from UK prison.
In accordance with the prisoner exchange arrangements with the UK Home Office. Close aides described the crunch meeting witnessed the chief Ghanaian diplomat physically shaken by such a herculean task to secure Nayeli’s release by the end of the first quarter of 2016 as threatening to his appointment. This is believed to be a calculated move by President to take advantage of a bilateral exchange of prisoners agreement between Ghana and the United Kingdom, which has been fallow due to lack of cooperation of data on the Ghanaian side of the agreement for the convicted criminal to serve the rest of her 8 years and 4 months jail sentence in Ghana.
The British Justice Minister recently announced a move to free up prison places and in accordance with an age old Commonwealth Prisoner Exchange Treaty, the Ghanaian President is seeking to utilise this opportunity to secure the release of his government’s most expensive prisoner. It is not known whether this discussion by the President, with his high commissioner will cover all Ghanaians who have been caught flouting the UK laws, and languishing in UK jails.
It may be recalled that in September 2014, Nayeli Ametefe was arrested at the Heathrow airport by customs officers, in a daring attempt to smuggle 12 kilos of cocaine in her hand luggage. News surfaced about the access she enjoyed including official security escorts through VVIP lounge at the Ghanaian international airport including her fateful British airways Accra – London bound flight.
Miss Hannah Tetteh, the Ghana’s foreign minister made frenetic efforts to debunk the reported version of eye witnesses. This was followed by an uncharacteristic regular prison visits from Mr Victor Smith, the high commissioner himself, and a high profile team from the Ghana mission to Nayeli, where she was held on prison remand, awaiting trial, and sentencing. On 6th January, 2015, Nayeli made her first appearance in court, during which she pleaded guilty, followed with sentencing via a video link two weeks later.
During the hearing, a Ghanaian delegation was present in a peculiar mix of colours confirmed to be that of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). Nayeli Ametefe was jailed for a token 8 years and 4 months at the Isleworth Crown Court through a plea bargain. During confiscation proceedings, 6 months later, in line with the British justice system, it was surprisingly reported from the Isleworth Crown Court that the Crown Prosecution Service made no appearance, as they usually would, to push for a confiscation of property acquired by any such culprit through illegally acquired wealth. Nayeli was therefore spared all her stock of illegal wealth which is the root cause of the strained diplomatic relations.
Complicities and accomplices, aiders and abettors to the commission of the offence perpetrated by Nayeli were all let-off-the-hook, some of them, on the basis of nolle prosequi, occasioned by non-court attendance by the Ghana Attorney General Department.
According to a source at the Ghanaian presidency Miss Nayeli Ametefe who played a crucial role in the 2012 campaign to elect President John Mahama and has been a high profile courier on behalf of the official of the NDC party and its financiers thereby underscoring her numerous diplomatic identities under which she evaded capture for some time.
The big question is whether such a highly connected operative dubbed Cleopatra of the drug world with complex links within the ruling party in Ghana will see the murky walls of harsh prison environments in Ghana especially coming directly from the echelons of power?
This report was contributed by Jeff Pike, Political correspondent (Africa Middle East and Asia) Primedia International Chancery Lane London