Minister Lies Over Fake 50 Ghanaian Journalists Scandal

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Isaac Asiamah, GOC President In Hiding; Australian High Commission To Drop Names Of Impersonators

 Deputy Sports Minister, has quickly changed his plea of innocence over the fake 50 Ghanaian journalists scandal, saying he is now aware that the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) before making the trip to Australia, actually accredited the individuals to travel to the Commonwealth Game.

Pius Hadzide, who is the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Committee for Ghana, had earlier denied knowledge of the accreditation given to the impersonators believed to be political party loyalists mostly from the governing party.

The fake pressmen were charged between US$11,000 and US$22,000 to go and live in Australia illegally. Two officers of GOC, Hussein Addy and Christine Ashley have been discovered as part of a Visa racketeering syndicate behind the national embarrassment.

Interestingly, the two have not been sent home from Australia yet. They are still at the games, although reports are that they have been suspended, but will have to come home and face sanctions after the games.    

The Deputy Minister, had to change his plea, when it became apparent that the Australian High Commission, is going to drops the names and other details of the impersonators.

“I have spoken to the GOC, that is the Chef de Mission, on this matter, and their position is that they did not facilitate any such thing. “However my checks from the Games organizers in Australia indicate that the when they receive these nominations, they seek clarification and validation from the GOC before they are allowed to travel.

“So as to whether someone was complicit or someone just didn’t do a good job, we are still investigating,” Mr. Hadzide said.

He has, however, revealed that, the Ghanaians facing deportation from Australia for being ‘non-genuine travelers’ received final endorsement from the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) before making the trip to Australia.

Interestingly, the President of the GOC, Ben Nunoo Mensah and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, both very vocal men, have unusually remained silent over the embarrassing matter since it broke.

 At least 50 Ghanaians, who posed as journalists to cover the ongoing Commonwealth games in Gold Coast, Australia, were flagged by Australian officials, after they failed to provide concrete evidence of their said profession, although all the affected persons, had the right accreditation to enter Australia.

The Sports Ministry and the GOC, have subsequently denied involvement in the matter, with Hadzide refuting claims that, the Ministry sponsored the travels of the said journalists.

However, in an interesting twist, Hadzide, who is the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Committee for Ghana, on Thursday, disclosed on the Citi Breakfast Show, that the Competition Officials in Australia, confirmed that the flagged Ghanaians, had received validation from the GOC.

“I have spoken to the GOC, that is the Chef de Mission, on this matter, and their position is that they did not facilitate any such thing.

“However my checks from the Games organizers in Australia indicate that when they receive these nominations, they seek clarification and validation from the GOC, before they are allowed to travel.

“So as to whether someone was complicit or someone just didn’t do a good job, we are still investigating,” he said.

The first batch of the deported Ghanaians arrived in Ghana on Wednesday night, with the rest expected to follow in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Australian High Commission in Ghana, has confirmed that ‘fake’ journalists, who went for the ongoing Commonwealth Games from Ghana, are due for deportation.

“The Australian Border Force (ABF) has cancelled the visas of several dozen travellers from a variety of countries, including Ghana, who attempted to travel to Australia posing illegitimately as journalists, athletes or officials,” the embassy said in a statement on yesterday.

The Australian High Commission said, the situation was “regrettable”.

It has therefore maintained that, anyone wishing to enter Australia, including athletes, team officials and the media, must hold a valid visa and accreditation and must be deemed to be a legitimate visitor.

The statement said, the Australian High Commission, will continue to liaise with relevant Ghanaian authorities on the matter.

The Sports Ministries and the GOC, have both made strenuous efforts to absolve themselves from blame.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has also “distanced itself” from reports that some 50 Ghanaian journalists said to be part of the country’s delegation ahead of the Commonwealth Games have been deported.

A statement signed by the President of the GJA, Affail Monney, in Accra yesterday said the Association knows none of the said persons and their media outlets.

The GJA therefore, called on the “Foreign Affairs Ministry, the police and other relevant institutions to thoroughly investigate the matter in order to establish the true identity of the deportees for the purposes of redeeming the image of Ghana and Ghanaian journalists.”

Reports in both local and international media, showed that the Australian authorities were not convinced about the mission of purported journalists in that country because although they claimed to be journalists and had genuine visas, many of them did not carry the recommended equipment for the coverage of such a sporting event.

“The GJA wishes to put on record that it does not know the identity of the so-called journalists; neither is it aware of their mission in Australia. Although Ghanaian journalists travelling outside the country for official events are not obliged to inform the GJA about their assignments, it is quite strange that the GJA is not aware of the identity of the deportees, including the media institutions they claim to represent,” the statement stated.

The GJA noted in its statement that the deportation of the alleged journalists from Australia has the tendency to soil the image of Ghanaian journalists in particular and Ghana as a whole.

For that reason, it called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the police and other relevant institutions to thoroughly investigate the matter in order to establish the true identity of the deportees for the purposes of redeeming the image of Ghana and Ghanaian journalists.

The GJA advised Ghanaian journalists travelling outside the country for official assignments to follow the requisite protocols of their host countries and the event organisers in order to avoid embarrassment.

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