By Emmanuel Akli
The embarrassment caused Ghana, when sixty of her citizens, some of whom could not even use the Queen’s language to construct a sentence, but entered Australia as journalists to ostensibly cover the 2018 Commonwealth Games, has forced the no nonsense president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to crack the whip. The first casualty is his own Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide.
Ghana became a subject for global discussion and ridicule, when the Australian Immigration arrested and deported 60 supposed journalists.
Media reports suggest that when some of these ‘journalists’ were interviewed, they could not answer the name of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) chairman. They, instead, mentioned Nana Akufo-Addo as president of the Olympics committee.
When others were also asked to produce the gadgets they would be using to cover the games, they pulled their phones from their pockets and showed them to the Immigration officers, as their working tools.
The development prompted the immigration officers to detain and subsequently deport them back to Ghana.
Evidence is, however, emerging that the ‘journalists’ colluded with some government and GOC officials to secure their traveling documents.
Whilst some of the deportees who were picked up upon their arrival in the country claimed to have paid GH30, 000 to officials to help them migrate to Australia, under the cover of journalist, others also claimed to have paid a whopping $11,000 for the trip.
To make the dubious transactions look genuine, officials are said to have used names of known Ghanaian sports journalists to secure official endorsement and later substituted the names of genuine journalists with the fake ones, to process their visa application and other traveling documents.
Some of the officials who were initially picked up by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) have been granted bail, pending further investigation.
Reliable information indicates that President Akufo-Addo was livid over the development, after receiving report of the preliminary investigation into the case and subsequently instructed that a statement be issued, announcing to the public that his Deputy Sports Minister and others have been suspended.
The following is the full statement issued by the Director of Communication at the presidency, Eugene Arhin, suspending the government officials;
“The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, 12th April, 2018, suspended from office, with immediate effect, the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide and the acting Director General of the National Sports Authority, Robert Sarfo Mensah.
“This decision has been taken following preliminary investigations conducted into the circumstances that led to the arrest of some sixty (60) Ghanaians, who had allegedly attempted to enter Australia by false pretences, in the on-going 21st Commonwealth Games.
“The President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah, the Board Chairman of the National Sports Authority, Kwadwo Baah Agyeman and the Chef-de-Maison for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mr Mohammed Sahnoon, have also been recalled from the Games to assist in investigations currently being undertaken by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police Service.”
It would be recalled that Ghana was subjected to similar embarrassment in 2014 when some Ghanaians, with official endorsement, secured travel documents to travel to Brazil to support the Black Stars, who were then participating at the World Cup.
Few days after arriving in Brazil, these so called supporters deserted camp with the sole aim of traveling by land to the United States of America. Their plight in the course of the dangerous journey attracted international attention, with their images being splashed on the front pages of some of the international media.
The shame was simply unbearable, yet no official investigation was conducted into the case, let alone punish those who were behind the deal.