Beninois jailed five years for attempting to export cocoa

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A 32-year-old Beninois, Gilbert Ahossu Amegnon, who attempted to smuggle about 7,200 ripe cocoa pods to Benin, has been jailed five years by a Cape Coast Circuit Court.

The convict, a farmer based in Juaso in the Assin-Fosu Municipality, was charged on four counts of conspiracy to commit crime, buying cocoa without lawful authority, illegally transporting and attempt to export cocoa without lawful authority.

He prayed the court, presided over by Mrs Veronique Tetteh Praba, to temper justice with mercy, saying: “I didn’t know exporting raw cocoa for a nursery project is a crime.”

Prosecuting, Chief Inspector Gilbert Anyongo, said the complainant, Mr Francis Botway, is the Manager of the Quality Control Division of COCOBOD in Assin-Fosu.

He said on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, at about 0730 hours, Nana Kwesi Ofori, the Central Regional Chief Farmer, alerted Mr Botway that Amegnon had gone to Assin-Juaso and was buying ripe cocoa in pods, which he stored in a room for later transportation to Benin.

Mr Botway then reported the incident to the police leading to the arrest of Amegnon and subsequent recovery of the cocoa pods.

Prosecutor said during interrogation, Amegnon mentioned one Alhaji Ayuba in Benin as the one who financed the purchase and transportation of the pods for nursery project in Benin but without prior approval from COCOBOD.

He said the police recovered 7,200 fresh cocoa pods, which were broken, fermented and dried, weighting 289.2 kilos valued at GHC3,053.92.

Efforts were underway to arrest the farmers who sold the cocoa to the convict as well as his accomplice in Benin, he said.

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