Three members of Ghana’s parliament and a former lawmaker are facing travel bans to Britain over apparent visa irregularities, according to a leaked document seen by AFP yesterday.
Britain’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, wrote to parliament Speaker Mike Oquaye that the four had apparently been involved “in visa fraud directly affecting the United Kingdom”.
Former MP George Boakye obtained a visa for his daughter, who then overstayed her visa for more than three years and only returned to Ghana this January at Britain’s insistence. Another, Richard Acheampong, secured a visa for a woman he said was his wife. But more than a year after she traveled to Britain, supposedly for a two-week holiday, she was still there.
The MP failed to declare her illegal presence, provide documents proving he was married to the woman or give information allowing her to be tracked down, the three-page letter read. Both Boakye and Acheampong were unlikely to be issued with further visas for travel if they applied again, Benjamin wrote.
Joseph Benhazin Dahah was banned from Britain for 10 years after initially applying for a visa for his wife and niece, he added. When the application for his niece was refused, the MP applied to the Republic of Ireland, changing his wife’s name and making his niece his daughter.
The fourth MP, Johnson Kwaku Adu, traveled for a two-week holiday to London in July last year with his wife and 16-year-old daughter. He returned after two days but his wife and daughter are thought to be still in Britain.
“This is in some ways the most serious of the cases outlined in this letter, given the possibility that… Adu knowingly facilitated the movement of a minor who cannot be traced into the United Kingdom,” wrote Benjamin. “That has been noted with alarm by U.K. authorities.”
He added: “The British High Commission considers the actions outlined above to be completely unacceptable. In some cases these behaviors may arguably be criminal in nature.” The mission in Accra said in response to the letter: “We cannot comment publicly on leaked documents or individual visa cases.
“We take any allegations of visa fraud extremely seriously, and will always investigate such allegations and take action where appropriate.” Boakye, Adu and Dahah are members of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ruling New Patriotic Party while Acheampong belongs to the main opposition National Democratic Congress.
Benjamin said in the letter that party affiliations were “irrelevant”. Ghana’s foreign minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway described the allegations as “very serious… and unfortunate” and promised to act on the findings after the speaker had dealt with the issue. That could include withdrawing the MPs’ diplomatic passports, she told local radio station Citi FM.