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Visa Scandal Deputy Sports Minister claims innocent amid suspension over visa scandal

The deputy Sports Minister and the acting Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Robert Sarfo Mensah, were both suspended on Thursday.

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Suspended deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Pius Enam Hadzide has denied his involvement in the visa scandal that has hit Ghana at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The sporting fraternity was thrown into a state of shock after it emerged that some “fake journalists” have been granted passports to travel to the games under the guise of pressmen.

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About 14 fake Ghanaian journalists have already been deported from Australia, with 60 in all reportedly also due for deportation.

News of the visa scandal led to calls for probity from the public, with some quarters demanding a proper look into the matter.

Suspended deputy Sports Minister, Pius Enam Hazide play

Suspended deputy Sports Minister, Pius Enam Hazide

 

After initial investigations, the deputy Sports Minister and the acting Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Robert Sarfo Mensah, were both suspended on Thursday.

A letter from the Presidency said the pair have been asked to step aside “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”.

However, Pius Hadzide insists he is innocent of all the allegations and believes his innocence will be proven after the full investigation.

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Speaking in an interview with Accra-based Adom FM, the deputy Sports Minister said: “My understanding of the preliminary investigation does not mean that I have done anything wrong. If you ask who was in charge of the International Games Committee, I was the one, so for me that is enough basis for me to be asked to stand aside for investigations to commence.

“Let’s all be patient and have faith in the investigation. I know that the truth will be uncovered; and the truth will be that concerning this issue at hand, Pius Hadzide, Deputy Minister, I don’t know anything about it.”

He added: “I don’t know them [60 fake journalists]; I don’t know how they managed to get there. These are part of issues the investigations will unravel, and I’m praying that very soon the investigations will be fast-tracked and bring out the findings. But the truth in this is that I don’t know anything about the scandal.

“I was surprised when I heard that some Ghanaian journalists have been deported because I didn’t know that journalists even are allowed to attend such events. No journalist came to tell me that they would like to attend the sporting event.” 

Meanwhile, suspended NSA boss, Robert Sarfo Mensah, also accepted the suspension, saying “I think stepping aside will allow Ghanaians give the due credibility to the investigative team.”

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