The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has recommended that the Deputy Head of the Commercial Crimes Unit, DSP (Mrs.) Gifty Mawunyegah Tehoda, and the Head of the Narcotics Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (Cm) of the Ghana Police Service, DSP Kofi Adzei-Tuadzra, should be held responsible for their respective roles in the transformation of the cocaine exhibit which turned out to be sodium carbonate during a recent cocaine trial in Accra.
An interim report released by the BNI in Accra on Tuesday after its investigation into the cocaine-turn-sodium carbonate saga said the investigation established strong circumstantial evidence that the cocaine was swapped with the active assistance of and facilitation by DSP (Mrs.) Tehoda.
The report said although DSP Mrs Tehoda had nothing to do with the investigation under review, she took Nana Ama Martins, the suspect in the case, out of cells on nine occasions under the ruse of “further investigations” and spent an average of two hours with her in her office on each occasion.
It said while DSP (Mrs.) Tehoda’s conduct was obstructive of the investigation being conducted by her colleagues, the responsibility for the security of the exhibit was that of DSP Adzei-Tuadzra.
Approximately one kilogramme (1,020 kg) of cocaine presented as exhibit in the Republic vs Nana Ama Martins case turned out to be sodium bicarbonate on re-testing by the Ghana Standards Authority.
The substance had earlier undergone a field test at the Police Headquarters and a more elaborate test at the Police Crime Laboratory in 2008. Both tests had proved the sub¬stance positive for cocaine.
The BNI was directed to investigate the circumstances leading to the change of the substance and identify the culprits.
According to the report, Nana Martins was arrested in Accra on August 22, 2008 with a substance suspected to be cocaine but the case was never brought to trial until she was granted bail (against the relevant laws) on September I L 2009.
She jumped bail, to be rearrested on July 21, 2011, after which the case was reactivated for the trial to begin on August 25, 20 II at Circuit Court One, Cocoa Affairs Courts, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor.
The exhibit, which was at all times kept in the office of the Head of the Narcotics Unit of the Police Service and not in a designated exhibit room, was handled by three heads of the Police Narcotics Unit and two investigators from August 22, 2008 to September 27, 2011 when it was first tendered in evidence.
The report said L/Cpl Anyekase visually identified and confirmed the exhibit on September 28, 2011 as the same one he had tendered on September 27, 2011, suggesting that it had not changed overnight.
Long before the substance was tendered in court, Kwabla Senanu, the defence counsel, had insisted to the prosecutor, Stella Arhin, that the exhibit was not cocaine. The exhibit stayed in the court premises from September 27 to 29, 2011 when it was sent for re-testing, after which it returned negative for cocaine.
The report said any change in the substance at the court would have happened over the two nights.
However, the investigation found no evidence of any visible change in the substance over those two days and nights, as testified to by L/Cpl Anyekase, Constable Joseph Owusu and the prosecutor, Stella Arhin. Both Owusu and Arhin endorsed the new sample for re-testing.