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Interim Report on a case of inadmissible passengers referred for1nvestigations by the Ghana Immigration Service

botchway September 19, 2019

 

  1. 0n 17th April 2018, the Comptroller-General, Ghana Immrgration Service (615) per a letter No. 013 GFIS/OSPS/INTD/LE-INTPOL dated 12th April 2018 and captioned “Referral of inadmissible Passengers to the Criminal Investigation Department, Ghana Police Service” was received together with twelve (12) out of thirteen (13) detained deportees from Australia for Investigation. According to the letter thirteen (13) Ghanaians who claimed to be journalists intending to cover the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, were refused entry into Australia by the Australian Border Force for various reasons and were subsequently repatriated on different dates into the country.
  2. The first batch of three (3) deportees, Isaac Ofori, Jalil Macro Musah and Kwabena Kyere arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 on board Ethiopian Airlines. On Thursday, April 5, 2018, Nana Amoah Doku Mensah arrived at KIA aboard South African Airlines. The Third batch of four (4) deportees, Ransford Baffour, Eric Mann, Ndaa Malik Abdul and Dorothy Agyekum and the fourth batch comprising Hussein Akwetteh Addy and Mohammed Shafiu arrived at different times on board British Airways on Friday, April 5, 2018. The fifth batch of two deportees, Bismark Brefo and Augustina Agyekumwaah arrived on Sunday, April 7, 2018 aboard British Airways. Lydia Boateng was refused entry into Singapore en route to Australia on the grounds that her passport had just about four months to expire, instead of the required standard minimum period of six months.
  3. On receipt of the petition, all the suspects were re-arrested, detained and thoroughly interrogated individually before statements on caution to wit, making false declaration to obtain visas to travel to Australia, were obtained separately from them. They were later granted Police enquiry bail to be reporting while investigations continue
  4. In the course of investigations, letters were dispatched to the various media houses that allegedly sent Journalists to cover the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia to report at the Unit to assist with investigation. The Press Officer attached to the Ghana Olympic Committee [GOC], Kenneth Obeng Adade was also invited to explain the modalities adopted by the various Media houses to acquire accreditation and visas for their respective journalists and the role played by the GOC in that respect.
  5. Most of those invited reported at the CID and submitted their statements. Subsequently, letter No. TA/MOYS/CF/l dated April 27, 2018 was received by the CID from the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) requesting that the investigations should be holistic and the scope widened to cover not only issues regarding the fake journalist but also officials at the GOC, the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon Pius Enam Hadzide. the Board Chairman of the NSA, Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyemeng and the Acting Director-General of the NSA, Hon. Robert Sarfo Mensah who were allegedly colluded with Hussein Akwetteh Addy and Christina Ashley, the Data Entry Clerks, to key in the names of unauthorized persons to travel to the Gold Coast, Australia. Attached was a copy of the interim report submitted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports predicating the interdiction of the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, the Board Chairman and the Acting Director General NSA.
  6. Letter No. CID/DVU.47/V.5/30 dated 27th April 2013 was also forwarded to the Consul and Senior Administrative Officer of the Australian High Commission, Accra, via email requesting for the full disclosure of the details of all those who travelled to Australia for the 21st Commonwealth games. However, a letter No. P6120550 dated 10th May, 2018 received from Superintendent Noel J. Scruton, Senior Liaison Officer, Australian Federal Police, stationed at the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa in response to the letter sent stated that if the information requested or being sought for by the Ghana Police could likely lead to the prosecution of any person found culpable through the ongoing criminal investigations then that request had to be made by way of the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA).
  7. In this regard, the Deputy Minister MoYS, the Board Chairman and the Acting Director General NSA were invited to the Unit and they submitted their statements. Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah, the President of the GOC, Mr. Mohammed Shannon, the Chef de Mission (CdM), Ms. Christiana Ashley an Administrative Officer of the GOC, Ms. Sekinatu Bempong, an Administrator at the NSA and Secretary to the NSA Board Chairman. The Presidents of other Sports disciplines were also invited to assist in Investigations.
  8. Preliminary investigations revealed that in 2016, when the Commonwealth games started, one Francis Asare who was a staff of GOC and the Commonwealth Games Accreditation Liaison Officer (CGALA), left for the United Kingdom on study leave. The president of the GOC, Ben Nunoo Mensah therefore co-opted Hussein Akwetteh Addy from the NSA to take over the duties of Francis Asare and was to work under the direct supervision of Mr. Mohammed Shannon, the Chef de Mission. Christiana Ashley of the NSA also assisted Hussein Addy in the data entry duties. Only Mr. Mohammed Shannon and Hussein Akwetteh Addy knew the password or code which enabled them to key in data into the accreditation system ECR.

INTFRNATIONAL GAMES COMMITTEE

  1. To facilitate or enhance the smooth and successful transition into the Commonwealth Games, the Ministry of Youth and Sports established the International Games Committee (IGC) to cater for the needs of Team Ghana. The Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Pius Enam Hadzide was made the Chairman assisted by the Acting Director-General of National Sports Association (NSA) and the twelve heads of the various disciplines that formed Team Ghana. The following five (5) sub committees were also consumed under the IGC. Alter the games however, these ad hoc committees were dissolved.

 

S/No. Names of Subcommittee Member(s)/Chairman
1 Logistics, Kitting and Equipment Mr Evans Eboah- Badminton Ghana
2 Protocol and Accommodation Mohammed Shanoon/ Chef de Mission/Cycling Association, Ghana
3 Technical Committee Saaka Acquaye/Deputy Director/NSA
4 Finance Committee Evans Yeboah/Badminton, Ghana
5 Special Assignment Hon Hadzide Pius Enam, Deputy Minister (MoYs)

Mr Ben Nunoo Mensah/GOC President and The Chief Director/NSA

 

  1. The third group or category of people to get accreditation to cover the 21st Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, were journalists from some Ghanaian media houses who expressed interest in covering the games. GOLDOC opened a separate Link or Portal and dealt directly with the leaders of the journalists from each media house who were known as the Media Accreditation Liaison Officers (MALO’s). MALO’s submitted directly to the Gold Coast Organizing Committee (GOLDOC) names of journalists each media house intended sending to Australia to cover the games. The GOC was thus by-passed or side-lined in this process. The GOC was only contacted to confirm the existence of the media houses which had applied for accreditation. The accreditation requests which had been approved were sent to the GOC and subsequently distributed to the MALOs. However, GOLDOC made a provision that the GOC was only to distribute the accreditation cards to the respective MALO’s and was not allowed in any way to comment or submit any reviews regarding the issue of the media accreditation. If the GOC had any reservations or questions regarding the media accreditation, it was to forward same to the GOLDOC for consideration only. This open-ended approach to the media accreditation without cross-checking from any of the professional bodies that oversaw professional Journalism in the country such as National Media Commission (NMC), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) or even the media houses themselves to ascertain whether or not those names submitted were actually journalists of good standing gave way to unscrupulous people to take advantage of the system. Some journalists, Alexander Anyarkwaa of Kasapa FM, John Vigah of the Ghanaian Times, Dan Kwaku Yeboah of Peace FM, Samuel Addo of Class Media Group, Thomas Boakye Agyemang of Happy FM, William Nanka-Bruce of EB Network, Daniel Adjei Frimpong of Class Media Group, who travelled to the Gold Coast to cover the games and witnessed the incident reported at the unit and submitted their statements. They all attested to the fact that the method adopted by GOLDOC to accredit media house/journalists was flawed, thus allowing unqualified persons to manipulate the system by posing as Journalists and succeeded in travelling to the Gold Coast before they were discovered as fake.

ALLEGED REPATRIATED FAKE JOUNALISTS

  1. The following suspects who were deported to Ghana from the Gold Coast for allegedly posing as journalists were handed over to the CID for investigations.
  2. Nana Amoah
  3. Poku Mensah
  4. Ofori Isaac
  5. Ransford Baffour Kwabena Kyere
  6. Eric Manu
  7. Ndaa Abdul Malik
  8. Lydia Boateng
  9. Musah Jalil Macro
  10. Mohammed Shafiu Adamu
  11. Augustina Agyekumwaa
  12. Dorothy Agyekum
  13. Husseini Akwettteh Addy
  14. Investigations. however, revealed that:
  15. Nana Amoah Poku Mensah is a spare parts dealer in Kumasi. He met Kojo Owusu somewhere in 2017. According to him the said Owusu informed him in December 2017 that he had got a slot for him to travel to Australia as sports journalist and that he was to pay US$6,000 for the trip. After bargaining, they settled on US$5,000. That he paid the cedi equivalent of that amount on 12th February, 2018. Owusu subsequently informed him that his visa was ready. In all he paid over twenty thousand Ghana Cedis [GH¢20,000.00] on the visa arrangement to Owusu excluding the money for his ticket. He left Accra on 3th March 2018 and arrived in Australia on 2nd April 2018. He could not prove his identity as a sports journalist as he had no media accreditation card and could not mention the media house he belonged to. He was therefore detained overnight and later deported to Ghana.
  16. Isaac Ofori was the Media Accreditation Liaison Officer and a journalist with Angel FM, Kumasi. That when the Commonwealth Games was approaching, his radio station selected him and Jeffrey Amoah to represent the station. That the two of them secured the accreditation and visa through the GOLDOC Media Link. On 28th March 2018, he and his colleague left Ghana for Australia on separate flights. He boarded Ethiopian Airlines to Ethiopia, then to Singapore and arrived in Gold Coast, Australia on 30th March 2018 without encountering any difficulties. It was after picking his luggage and checking out, and was departing the Airport that some Immigration Officials asked him to declare the pocket money he had on him. He declared six hundred United States Dollars ($600) in addition to receipts of his hotel bookings at the Games Village that he was denied entry into the Games Village on the grounds that he did not have enough money on him to sustain him for the two weeks. He was handcuffed, detained and later deported to Ghana. Due of the ordeal he went through, he made a quick call home warning all Ghanaian journalists not to travel to Australia to cover the games as it was a risky and wasteful venture. Even though he was a genuine journalist and had all the required documents and Visa, he was still denied entry into Gold Coast and his visa cancelled. Due to flight arrangement problems he was again made to pay a penalty of US$150 before he was deported to Ghana where he was detained with the fake journalists.
  17. Ransford Baffour is a trader who sells ladies shoes at Kantamanto Market and resides at Ablekuma, Accra. In October 2017, his old time friend Kojo Owusu met him at the spot where he sells at Kantamanto and informed him that he could assist people to travel to Australia. He expressed interest in the opportunity and Kojo Owusu informed him that the whole package was US$6.000 but he refused to make any payments until he became satisfied that indeed Kojo Owusu could do what he promised. Kojo Owusu collected the bio data section of his passport, one passport picture and vaccination card. On 20th January 20l8, Kojo Owusu showed him the visa which he checked and found to be genuine before paying him the US$6.000. Kojo Owusu asked him to tell Immigration Officials in Australia on his arrival that he is a journalist with Rainbow Radio, Accra. That though he was given six [6] months visa he had wanted to spend only two months in Australia just to have a travel experience. He left Accra on 3st March 2018 through London and arrived at Sydney Airport a couple of days later. Upon series of interrogations from the Australian Customs and Border Patrols, he could not convince the Officials that he was a journalist so he was deported to Ghana.
  18. Kwabena Kyere is a carpenter, residing at Moshie Zongo in Kumasi. In September 2017, he was approached in Kumasi by one Kojo Owusu who said he could assist him obtain a visa to travel to Australia to watch the 21st Commonwealth Games which attracted his interest. In February 20l8, he paid Owusu one thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢1,000 00) for the processing fee. Owusu asked him to pose as a photo journalist upon his arrival in Australia. On 29th March 2018, Owusu sent someone to pick him up at a friend’s house at Ofankor, Accra, where he lodged on his arrival from Kumasi. He departed KIA that same day for Australia. On his arrival, he was accosted by the Customs and Border Patrols Officials and he showed them his camera indicating that he was a cameraman but he was told that the camera was the digital type which was not suitable for covering the games. He could not also prove where he was to lodge. He also had only US$800 on him. He was told he needed between US$5,000 and US$10.000 to be able to stay at the Games Village. He was therefore deported for lack of adequate funds and faking as a photo journalist
  19. Eric Manu is a cameraman with Captivating Ghana Sports Newspaper owned by Dan Kwaku Yeboah of Peace FM Sports Desk. He duly acquired his accreditation and visa through the GOLDOC Media Accreditation process. However, when he arrived in Australia he was refused entry at the airport on the excuse that he booked for a week accommodation and had only six hundred dollars ($600) as pocket money. As a result of the scandal, he was classified as a fake journalist and repatriated to Ghana even though all his documents were genuinely obtained.
  20. Ndaa Abdul-Malik is a car dealer at Tesano in Accra. In June 2017, one Bismark bought a car at his garage. He told Bismark he wanted to travel abroad for greener pastures and Bismark promised to assist him. In July 2017, Bismark told him of the travel arrangement to Australia and he expressed interest. He was later asked to provide the bio-data section of his passport and other documents at Tip Toe Lane, Kwame Nkrumah Circle. He added that Bismark informed him that it was one Ofori Willie who was processing the documents for him to obtain the visa. Bismark did not charge him for his services. The visa was procured electronically but he never met the said Ofori until he left Accra on 1st April 2018 and arrived in Australia on 3rd April 2018. On his arrival, he was interrogated and asked of his job description and he replied that he was a journalist working with the Founder FM located at Kanda in Accra. He was asked of his boss’s telephone number and he answered that his boss had already arrived in Gold Coast and had not called him with his new telephone number. He was not found convincing enough and was deported to Ghana because he was identified as a fake journalist.
  21. Lydia Boateng, is a Marketing and Purchasing Manager at Minabas Hobby Enterprise at Cantonments, Accra. She said she heard of the 21st Commonwealth Games in Australia and so wanted to get there to support Team Ghana. She applied for her visa and submitted her application to the Australian High Commission in Ghana. She was duly issued with a genuine visa from the Australian High Commission. Thereafter, she boarded a flight and transited through Dubai to Singapore but she was denied entry at Singapore Airport on the grounds that her passport had four (4) months to expire instead of the standard six (6) months. She was therefore denied entry and deported to Dubai and subsequently to Ghana. She never got to Australia and never posed as a journalist.
  22. Musah Jahil Macro claims he is a Businessman resident at Maamobi; Accra. He said that on 24th February 2018, an old-time friend of his, Ali Braimah, based in Maryland, USA called him on a private line/number to ask if he was interested in travelling to Australia to watch the 21st Commonwealth Games. He indicated that he expressed his interest in the deal and his friend asked him to wait for him to call back. His friend later called to inform him that the amount involved for the whole package was US$8,000. Ali added that his friend directed him to meet one Mohammad. He handed over US$6,000 and the bio data section of his passport to the said Mohammed. On 20th March 2018, the said Mohammed gave him his passport and Daily Sports ID Card as a photo journalist. He bought a camera to enable him pose as a photographer in Australia. He left KIA on 28th March 2018 and arrived in Australia on 31st March 2018. He was denied entry by the Australian Border Patrol Officials because he was found to be a fake photojournalist.
  23. Mohammed Shafiu Adamu is an Nkawkaw based farmer. He claimed a friend of his called Ali introduced him to one Prince after he had discussed with the former about his intention to travel abroad. Several months later, Prince called him on phone to inform him about an opportunity to travel to Australia for the Commonwealth games and charged him US$7,000 for the necessary arrangements. He sent his passport information via WhatsApp after making an initial payment of US$5.000 to Prince at the Kaneshie Sports Complex around Bubiashie, Accra. Two weeks later, Prince called to inform him that his visa was ready. He continued that he was made to pay an extra US$1,800 for the air ticket to Australia and that Prince told him to pose as a photo journalist. Prince asked him to buy a camera and hang it around his neck to appear as if he was truly a cameraman. The two of them then left Accra for Australia on 1st April 2018 and arrived on 3rd April, 2018, they were both arrested by the Australian Border Patrol Unit before being separated. He was further interrogated and detained overnight because he was unable to convince the authorities that he was indeed a cameraman. He was deported to Ghana and has since not seen Prince.
  24. Augustina Agyekumwaa is a Sales girl from Ejisu in the Ashanti Region. She said that her brother Kofi Boahene, prior to the commencement of the Commonwealth Games in Australia, collected her passport details and processing fee of two hundred and fifty Ghana Cedis (GH¢250.00) to procure visa for her to travel to Australia. She continued that on 1st March 2018, she was informed that her visa was ready and that she should prepare to leave for Australia. She asked her brother how much she was to pay for the arrangements but he said she should rather go and get settled there before paying him back. She departed Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on 4th April, 2018 and arrived in Sydney, Australia, on 7th April 2018. She intimated that she was interrogated by the Airport Security personnel whom she told that she had come to cover the games but she could not name the Media House she belonged to and did not have any Media Accreditation Card. She also had only US$500 on her which could not sustain her for the two weeks’ duration of the games. She was thereafter detained for two days and later deported to Ghana after her visa had been cancelled.
  25. Dorothy Agyekun is a Beautician. In November 2017, she had a discussion with her friend Kojo Owusu about her intention to travel abroad. Kojo Owusu agreed to secure her an Australian visa and collected twenty-seven thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢27,000.00) from her in Accra for that purpose. He asked her to pose as a photographer when she processed her visa appreciation documents. On 31st March 2018, on reaching Singapore Airport enroute to Australia, she was approached by a white security officer who took photographs of her visa. The said security officer asked her not to proceed to Australia to attend the games but to return to Ghana since the visa Kojo Owusu secured for her was fake. She was denied entry into Singapore and deported to Kotoka International Airport where she was detained for questioning by the Ghana Immigration Service Officials.
  26. Husseini Akwetteh Addy was not repatriated on the grounds that he was a journalist. He was rather an Administrative Officer with the GOC in charge of the Media Accreditation System both in Ghana and at the Games Village in Australia. He left Ghana with the first batch of thirty-two (32) Ghanaian athletes and officials forming Team Ghana on 12th March 20l8 and lodged in Ramada Hotel before moving to the Games Village on 25th March2018. He was asked to leave the Games Village together with Christiana Ashley after some Ghanaian: were arrested and detained in Australia on the basis that they had illegally included names of unqualified persons in the final list and had made them to travel to Gold Coast as part of the official government delegation. He was detained at KIA on his arrival in Ghana but his colleague, Christiana Ashley, was not.

ALLEGED UNAUTHORISED INSERTION OF THE NAMES

l3. Following a write-up by the President of the GOC, Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah, indicating that on or about 20th March 2018,  the Chef de Mission Mr. Mohammed Shannon, was notified by the Australian Boarder Control that some Individual Ghanaians who posed as Beach Volley Ball players had entered Australia, though the Beach Volley Ball and Para Cycling Teams did not qualify for the games. The CDM immediately gave the list of one hundred and nine (|09) qualified athletes, officials and dignitaries to GOLDOC and informed them that any person whose name was not included in that list was not part of Team Ghana. On 29th March 2018, the Deputy Secretary General of GOC, Mr. Richard Akpokavie interrogated the two data entry clerks, Mr. Husseini Akwetteh Addy and Miss Christiana Ashley at the Games Village in Gold Coast where they allegedly admitted to have travelled with certain individuals who posed as Beach Volley Ball players to Australia. Miss Christiana Ashley was alleged to have claimed that she was compelled to travel with five individuals who were not part of Team Ghana to Australia by her boss, Mr. Robert Sarfo Mensah, the Acting Director-General, NSA. She was said to have confessed that at a meeting between her boss and Mr. Evans Yeboah, President of Badminton Ghana, they agreed to add some names and captured them under the Badminton Federation. She added that four (4) names were given to her by the Acting Director-General, NSA to enter into the system and she took advantage of the situation to add one more name, totaling five (5) into the system.

14. Mr. Husseini Akwetteh Addy was also said to have confessed that he was compelled to add twelve (12) names by the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) who also doubled as Chairman of the Internal Games Committee (IGC), Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide. He was again asked to add fourteen (14) names by the President of Swimming Federation, Mr. Theophilus Wilson Edzie. He was instructed to add twenty-five (25) other names from Mr. Ignatius Elletey, the Secretary General of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) and he also added six (6) extra names of his. Therefore, in all sixty-two (62) illegal persons were allegedly sent to Australia by the above-mentioned officials

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