Home News Denu Traders Chase CEPS Officials For ‘Unlawful Break-In’

Denu Traders Chase CEPS Officials For ‘Unlawful Break-In’

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Some Of The Denu Xedzanawo Market Women

Some market women at the Xedzranawo market at Denu in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta Region have accused officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at Aflao for allegedly breaking into a warehouse at the market and subsequently carting away some goods suspected to be uncustomed.

This, according to the traders, was done without the consent of the owner of the goods, Ms. Rejoice Baby Quarshie. The traders have also accused the District Police Command at Denu of ignoring their concerns when two (2) attempts were made to report the incident to them for investigations.

The concerned market women, numbering about ten (10), belong to the Denu Chapter of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Association (FMCGA) in the area. They have questioned the basis of the action and incident which took place on Friday morning of 26th January 2024.

The victim, Ms. Quarshie told our news team in an interview that she was not available when the incident happened. She said her landlord, Mr. Cyril Anani Gaglozu who witnessed the apparent joint operation by the Customs officials and some military personnel, accused her of keeping some six thousand (6,000) gallons of smuggled and banned cooking oil at the warehouse.

The victim mentioned items such as cooking oil, sugar, and rice amongst others as those in the warehouse in addition to some sales money at the time of the incident. According to her, there were nineteen (19) cartons of cooking oil, twenty-eight (28) bags of sugar, and a large number of quantities of bags of rice she could not readily recollect.

Ms. Quarshie lamented that her two (2) attempts to report the matter to the Denu District Police Command were allegedly blocked. She was denied the opportunity to officially report the case and instead asked to contact the Aflao Collection of the Customs Division of the GRA for redress, a move she undertook but was unsuccessful.

The victim added that she was told by the Customs officials at Aflao that apart from the rice and sugar which penalty should be paid, the cooking oil was completely seized and confiscated because it was illegal to bring it into the country through the Aflao border.

The landlord, Mr. Cyril Anani Gaglozu confirmed the incident to our news team. According to him, all efforts to encourage the Customs officials to exercise caution and patience and desist from breaking into the warehouse and carting away the goods proved futile.

According to him, he told the operation team, some of whom were masked, about the absence of the victim and proposed that they returned the next day which was another Denu market day to carry their operation through.

This, according to Mr. Gaglozu was rejected, leading to the deployment of a hammer from their vehicle to break the door opened for the operation. ‘All the five padlocks affixed on the burglar-proof structure were destroyed in the process.

Mr. Gaglozu showed our news team a padlock and a bunch of keys he claimed the Custom officials led by one Mr. Amenu, left with him to use in locking the warehouse after the operation.

A number of the market women including the Acting President of the FMCGA, Ms. Bernice Ayivor as well as some members of the group namely Madam Bernice Awuye and Madam Dzifa Dzidzienyo, expressed concern about the modus operandi of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) officials, saying it is unacceptable and inhumane. According to them, trading is their core business in the Ketu South municipality, adding that they take loans in many cases to prosecute their businesses to earn some income to take care of their families. They added their voice in calling on the government to reduce taxes on goods and services to make it convenient and affordable for many businessmen and women to be able to pay these taxes to the state.

One of the market women, Ms. Grace Norvixoxo questioned the basis of the conclusion arrived at by the Customs officials which occasioned their action. She explained that the goods in question could be found in many parts of the country including major markets in Accra, Kumasi, and elsewhere, wondering how goods found in a warehouse at Denu could necessarily be concluded to have come from neighbouring Togo. According to Ms. Norvixoxo, the goods carted away by the Customs officials were leftovers from sales made from the previous market days.
Our news team also learnt that the Customs officials seized the phone of the daughter of the victim who was filming the action.

They accosted her and subsequently deleted the visuals from the phone. Ms. Wendy Attipoe, a university student in the Brong Ahafo region, recounted what happened to our news team, saying she did not only feel bad about the incident but also wept bitterly later on.

The Chief of Xedzranawo, Torgbui Tsrabi II asked the Customs officials to come clear on the said operation they embarked upon, describing it as an intimidation and embarrassment to his community and the market women. He wondered which law in Ghana allows anyone including the security agencies to break into someone’s property, room, or warehouse not only without the consent of the owner but also a search order from the courts of the land.

‘As I speak, the goods are still in the custody of the Customs officials at Aflao. If they said the goods were from Togo, where did the goods pass? They have their duty posts along the line. They should let us know what is going on, Torgbui Tsrabi intimated.

He also wondered why the Customs officials would first put a seal on the shop and later forcefully break into it to collect the goods they termed uncustomed.

The Xedzranawo Chief also asked the Denu police to explain why they refused to entertain the victim when she came to report to them. According to him, turning away Madam Rejoice Baby Quarshie and asking her to take up the matter at the Customs Division of the GRA at Aflao was not only a disservice to her but also very unfortunate and disturbing.

When contacted, the Customs officials at the Aflao Collection would not speak to the issue on record except to confirm the incident which took place in a joint customs cum military operation on the said date. They vehemently rejected the ‘break-in’ accusation, saying it is not their modus operandi even though they have all the powers to do so. They also accused the market women of tax evasion on goods they buy from Lome-Togo. The market women, they noted also illegally import banned cooking oil brands into the country from Togo. According to them, the break-in accusation is a frame-up move to tarnish their image.

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