…Attempt to bribe GIS officials
By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
Forty expatriates have been arrested by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for engaging in illegal mining activities in some communities in the Central Region of the country. However, one Jackie, a Chinese, believed to be an ally of some of the arrested foreigners, tried bribing GIS officials during investigations into the issue.
The arrested men, whose identities were not disclosed, are believed to be mostly Chinese, working in the Dankro, Nyinawaso and Wabianso communities, all in the Upper Denkyira area of the Central Region.
“Our enforcement unit mounted surveillance in these fourteen communities in the Central Region on December 8-10, 2010, and arrested these forty foreigners for engaging in illegal mining.
Our investigations revealed that they were working without proper working documentation,” noted Francis Palmdeti, Head of Public Affairs of the Ghana Immigration Service.
He told The Chronicle that some of the arrested expatriates were associated with Hopat Company and Hanson Limited, all registered mining companies in the country, but couldn’t produce any documents permitting them to work in the country.
A few others, according to Palmdeti, could not be associated with any company. “None of them could produce their passport, claiming they were with their bosses in Tema. All the forty are currently in immigration custody, pending further investigations,” Palmdeti told The Chronicle.
Jackie, whose name was mentioned as the one in possession of the arrested expatriates’ passports, according to Palmdeti, was invited by the GIS, but failed to produce any passports, claiming “they were with a friend, who is currently in London.”
Jackie, Palmdeti said, tried bribing the GIS officers who were investigating the case with GH¢2,000, but was arrested, and is also currently in custody, pending further investigations.
Palmdeti, however, appealed to the general public not to hesitate to report any foreigner suspected to have acquired a Ghanaian passport illegally, or working without proper documentation to the GIS for investigations.
In a related development, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has repatriated a Lebanese immigrant for the illegal acquisition of a Ghanaian passport issued to him in Accra on October 16, 2007.
Rabeih Zaidan, 28, was recently arrested by the Ghana Police Service upon a tip-off, and was handed over to the GIS on November 29, 2010, for further investigations.
He was also found to be in possession of a Liberian passport issued to him in Liberia on September 4, 2003, as well as a Guinean passport, which he claimed to have acquired in 1998, with assistance from his uncle who is a naturalised Guinean, but had expired.
Zaidan, according to Francis Palmdeti, used fraudulent means in acquiring the Ghanaian passport, by providing false information to immigration officials.
Palmdeti told The Chronicle that records pulled from his outfit’s computers indicate that Zaidan claimed to be born in Accra to one Hassan Hussein Zaidan, a Lebanese, who is now deceased, and one Habiba Ibrahim, whom he alleged was his Ghanaian mother.
However, background checks on the Zaidan, according to Palmdeti, revealed that his mother was one Maryam Jebber, also a Lebanese, currently residing in Lebanon.
By fraudulently acquiring a Ghanaian passport, Palmdeti said Zaidan was taken to court on December 9, 2010, where he was pronounced guilty by the Prosecutor, Peter Nantuo, who doubles as the Controller of Immigration.
Zaidan, The Chronicle learnt, was repatriated last Saturday, December 9, 2010, forty-eight hours after the court’s ruling.
He is said to have first entered the country from Nigeria, somewhere in 1992, and once worked as a chief cook at Southern Fried Chicken, a restaurant in Tema.
Immigration officials said quite a number of people had been arrested and repatriated for similar offences.
Palmdeti, who could not believe the actions of the Lebanese, urged the general public to note that “not all persons who wish to possess a Ghanaian passport has genuine intentions,” and therefore, appealed to them to contact the Enforcement or the Operations Units of the Immigration Service, for onward investigations.
“We want to alert the public to help us smoke out the bad ones. Ghanaians should be vigilant to ensure that what belongs to them is not abused,” Palmdeti noted.
He was however, optimistic that with the biometric system in place, it would be very difficult for people to acquire Ghanaian passports illegally.