…GOC Prez. Accused Of Personally Adding Names For Visas But He Fights Accuser
The President of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) was accused of direct involvement in the visa fraud that engulfed Ghana’s participation at the 21st Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 2018, a report by the GOC’s sub-committee that investigated the immigration and visa issues at the Games said.
Under cross examination during the committee’s sitting which is captured on page 86 of the report, the Vice President of the Ghana Rowing and Canoeing Kamal Sulley, heckled the GOC boss by accusing him of having given some unknown names to the Accreditation Officer, Hussein Addy, to be added to the list.
“I put it to you that you gave some names to Hussein Addy (Accreditation Officer) comprising Athletes and Officials to be added to the system. I recollect one Joyce, I will be prepared to submit the names,” Kamal Sulley, who also introduced himself as a friend of the controversial data entry officer Hussein Addy, asked.
The Ghana Weightlifting Federation, of which Mr. Mensah doubles as President, is on record to have added three unknown names to its list for the Games. But the GOC President claimed innocence saying, “I did not. If I have anything to do with Hussein in connection with the team size calculator, I would have dealt with the CDM (Mohammed Sahnoon).”
Media reports while the Games were going on in Gold Coast 2018 flagged up that more than 60 Ghanaians had either been stranded, detained or deported from Australia by immigration authorities of Australia and transit countries like Singapore on suspicions of visa fraud.
The Ghanaians carried visas as journalists issued by various media organizations in Ghana and claimed they were due to cover their country’s team at Gold Coast 2018. But Australian immigration were not convinced about their reasons for travelling because the travelers did not carry the recommended equipment as journalist for coverage of such as a sporting event.
At an emergency meeting of the GOC on 23rd April, 2018, the GOC’s Press Attaché Ken Adade said fact that media personnel who had missed the deadline for accreditation were also allowed to apply online to be registered and some of those people were given introduction letters by the GOC to apply for visas through the Australian High Commission in Accra.
Mr. Kamal Sulley further asked why the GOC President had not “undertaken due diligence on the persons who described themselves as members of the Press? Mr. Mensah responded by saying, “As captured in my report the Media Accreditation was not done by the GOC. The individual media houses dealt directly with Gold Coast the organizers.”
Seemingly not satisfied with the answers he was receiving, the heated exchanges continued as Kamal Sulley sought further clarifications by asking, “Did you investigate the particular beneficiaries who used your introductory letters for the visas?” “The GOC gave visa support letters to some Media Organizations who had written to us for those letters. From my Press Officer none of these organizations got visas let alone travel to Australia,” Mr. Mensah responded.
But the Minutes of the GOC’s Board meeting on 23rd April, 2018 stated, “that the board after further deliberations agreed that it was not in the interest of the GOC to deny knowledge of the media accreditation since the GOC’s “media personnel were involved and somehow validated the process.”
The sub-committee summed its hearing on that particular day by stating Mr. Kamel Sulley had undertaken to make available copies of letters he alleges were written by the GOC introducing persons who may not otherwise be qualified as members of the Press.
While the GOC President had also undertaken to make available to the Committee copies of all Accreditation letters to Media Houses from the GOC. But the GOC President was said to have reneged on his promise as captured on page 132 of the report.
“The witness (Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah) refused to make available to the Committee upon request, the introductory letters said to have been signed off by the 1st Vice President of the GOC for accreditation of the media for the Committee’s examination. A copy of the said letter has not been appendixed.”
On the other hand, the committee expressed its gratitude to Mr. Kamal Sulley “for the copious documentation and recommendations we received from the witness even after he had been discharged.” “We find the testimony of this witness (Kamal Sulley) substantially combative. We need place on record that his testimony had the effect of exposing the lack of preparation and arrangements by the GOC for the benefit of Ghanaians at large to legitimately attend the games.”
The sub-committee chaired by a Justice of the Court of Appeals, Justice Amadu Tanko summed up its findings by saying, “The Committee finds that visa racketeering through fraudulent representation for either financial gain or nepotic motives is endemic, condoned and facilitated at the highest level of the GOC and NSA.”
It further accused the GOC President of threatening, intimidation and fabrications. “The apparent threats embedded in the witness’s (Mr. Mensah) posture and representations made to the Committee compelled the Committee to demand from the witness a written memorandum to enable the Committee appropriately address same and to be guided thereby and advise itself,” the report said.
It further added, “…the perception, suspicion, and apprehension either by the witness or government being trumpeted by the witness as unfounded and at best a veiled attempt to intimidate the Committee members and deprive the Committee’s work the independence and credibility expected of it.”