Minister, Sports Authority Boss, Others Suspended

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As Australian Scandal Claims Records Casualties, GOC Office Broken Into; Stolen Documents

The Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide, and the acting National Sports Authority (NSA) Director-General, Robert Sarfo Mensah, were yesterday suspended by the President over the fake journalists’ scandal that, has rocked Ghana’s participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Aside from the suspension, the President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Ben Nunoo Mensah; the Board Chairman of the NSA, Kwadwo Baah Agyeman, and the head of the delegation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mohammed Sahnoon, “have been recalled from the Games to assist in investigations currently being undertaken by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Service”.

A statement signed by Director of Communications at the Jubilee House, Eugene Arhin, states that the decision was taken after “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”.

“This decision has been taken following preliminary investigations into the circumstances that led to the arrest of 60 Ghanaians, who had allegedly attempted to enter Australia by false pretences in the ongoing 21st Commonwealth Games,” a statement from the Presidency said.

These investigations are being undertaken by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

President Nana Akufo-Addo is said to have expressed his anger with the episode after meeting with Mr. Hadzide and the Chief of Staff, Madam Frema Opare, yesterday.

President Akufo-Addo, also described the scandal as an international disgrace.

Last week, it emerged that some 50 Ghanaians had been deported from Australia after they were deemed to be “non-genuine travelers” posing as journalists for the Commonwealth Games.

According to Australian authorities, although all the affected persons had the necessary accreditation, they were not convinced the reported persons were real journalists.

Following this, the government referred the case to the National Security for investigations to begin.

The Minority in Parliament, however, rejected this move, insisting that the scandal be probed by an independent commission of enquiry under article 278 of the Constitution of Ghana.

In the midst of the probe into the scandal, the office of the Deputy Secretary-General of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Rev. Richard Quarcoo, was ransacked by some unknown persons on Monday.

Citi Sports sources indicated that the office may have contained some documents relating to the saga that has rocked.

Isaac Asiamah, tasked National Security to initiate a probe into the deportation of some Ghanaians from Australia who claimed to be journalists for the Commonwealth Games.

At least 50 Ghanaians were in Australia for the games which started on April 4, 2018, but the Australian authorities were not convinced by their reasons for travelling to the country although those affected claimed they were journalists.

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.

Two staff of the National Sports Authority (NSA) were earlier implicated in the running saga of the visa racketeering for fake journalists and other questionable athletes and deported by the Australian authorities have been granted bail after a brief detention by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

The two, Hussein Akuetteh Addy and Christine Ashley were detained by the BNI last Friday upon their arrival in Ghana from Australia and stayed in detention until Monday evening before being bailed.

They have since been suspended.

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