A civil society group is calling on the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye to handover the four parliamentarians alleged to have been involved in visa fraud to the police and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to delve into the matter.
A statement released here signed by Kingsley Kwabena Amoah, Executive Director for Defence Network for Democracy (DEFNED) expressed worry over the series of allegations against the country’s legislative body, a development the group describes as having “dented the hard-won reputation and integrity of parliament locally and in the international scene.”
The civil society group urged the leadership of parliament to take immediate steps to redeem its lost image.
“DEFNED is seriously calling on the current leadership of Ghana’s Parliament to as a matter of urgency and in the interest of national security, take immediate action to purge the legislative arm on all issues of corruption and the blatant breach of code of conduct for public office holders, taking into consideration the series of corruption allegations so far, including the recent United Kingdom (UK) visa fraud scandal involving four Members of Parliament (MPs).
In the light of the above, DEFNED further wish to emphatically state that Ghana’s parliamentary democracy is under serious threat if the issues of corruption and the recent UK visa fraud scandal is not thoroughly delved into and properly investigated by the law enforcement agencies to bring those found culpable to justice in order to regain the lost integrity and credibility.”
It would be recalled that three sitting MPs and a former one were accused by the British authorities here last month for allegedly perpetrating visa fraud using their diplomatic passports.
The MPs were said to have used an unauthorized person (a goro boy) and their diplomatic passports to apply for visas for persons who travelled to the UK and did not return as stipulated by their visas.
The MPs cited are: Richard Acheampong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region, Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North in the Brong-Ahafo Region, Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo-Ano South West, in the Ashanti Region and George Boakye, former MP for Asunafo South in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
A confidential letter addressed to the country’s Speaker of Parliament by the British High Commission detailed the instances of abuses by the MPs in question.
“The British High Commission considers the actions (of the MPs) completely unacceptable. In some cases these behaviours may arguably be criminal in nature,” the letter said.
It added that given what has transpired, the High Commission “will henceforth only entertain and prioritize requests for visas from MPs, if they are made through the parliamentary protocol office who should verify that there is an official, parliamentary reason for the proposed visit.”
The High Commission said the net effect of such visa fraud by a very few Honourable MPs as outlined in its letter is to raise the bar of suspicion against all such applicants, which is, of course, regrettable to the huge disadvantage of those very many MPs who do act honourably at all times.
By Francis Tandoh/NewsGhana.com.gh