SWAG calls for probe into C’wealth Visa scandal

Kwabena Yeboah

Kwabena Yeboah

The Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) has called for a full scale independent probe into the recent visa scandal that has rocked Ghana’s participation at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
The association expressed deep concern about the nature of the scandal which has brought shame and embarrassment to the nation after it emerged that Australian immigration authorities detained and deported a number of Ghanaians posing as journalists to cover the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Gold coast.
In a statement signed by its president, Kwabena Yeboah, SWAG said the reported arrest, detention and deportation of about 50 self-acclaimed journalists of questionable credentials, including some genuine sports journalists, was deeply worrying as it painted a negative picture not only about the noble profession but also on the nation as a whole.
SWAG, the statement said, was outraged that some high ranking officials within the National Sports Authority (NSA) have already been suspended and sent home from Australia for their involvement in the scandal.
SWAG is therefore, calling on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to, as a matter of urgency, institute a full-scale investigation to get to the bottom of the matter.
According to the statement, the scale of the scandal and issues arising out of it, including allegations by some of the deportees that officials at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, NSA or even the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) facilitated their visas and other relevant travel documents in return for financial favours, requires nothing short of an independent investigation to identify and sanction officials found complicit in the scandal.
SWAG noted that the denials at a press conference in Accra by the NSA boss, Robert Oduro Sarfo, about the involvement of his organisation and that of the ministry should not end the matter, particularly after preliminary investigation by the GOC leadership implicated two NSA staff responsible for data entry, admitted they collaborated with other officials to enter various persons into the accreditation system and also secured visa notification letters for many individuals who were neither athletes nor officials.
“SWAG is of the opinion that the scale of this sandal requires nothing short of an independent investigative body to get to the bottom of it. We don’t think the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the NSA or the GOC have the moral right to spearhead this investigation, particularly as officials of these bodies have been implicated in this scandal, some of which have potential criminal implications,” the statement said.
“The issue, if not thoroughly investigated and the culprits brought to book, has far-reaching implications for sports journalism and Ghana sports as far as international competitions is concerned.
“Not only has it brought sports journalism into disrepute, but also has the potential to undermine and frustrate professional sports journalists and Ghanaian teams and technical officials seeking to travel abroad for legitimate business.”
According to SWAG, the current visa scandal has only lifted the lid on a can of worms that has afflicted Ghana sports over the years, particularly during major international competitions where some unscrupulous officials see such occasions as opportunities to smuggle individuals into the official contingent in return for financial favours. These ‘mercenaries’ often pose as athletes, team officials or even journalists as happened in Australia.
It is on record that in years past, Ghanaian athletes have even defected after such international competitions to seek refuge in the host nations or immigrate to other countries for economic or sporting reasons.
For SWAG the current scandal is a bad reflection on sports administration in Ghana as some of the officials handed national assignments have other ulterior motives, often inspired by greed, other than the best interest of Ghana. Such officials must be identified and flushed out of the system, the statement concluded.


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