.... Kufuor Warns Ministers Over Visa Scandals A local newspaper, Chronicle, has learnt that Hon. Capt. Kwame Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (Rtd), the Deputy Minister of Interior designate, last week received a summons from the President to explain the circumstances that led to his alleged involvement in a visa racketeering at the South Korean Embassy. The president however took the opportunity to warn all ministers who were involved in visa racketeering to stop, as the practice was denting the image of Ghanaian ministers and the nation as a whole. It is believed that letters of Ghanaian ministers to most of the embassies and high commissions in the country to request for visas are considered as weightless, as they have been noted for benefiting from visa racketeering. Thus, according to presidential sources, ministers alleged involved in visa deals are now panicky. The President asked ministers not to use their offices to acquire visas for individuals or groups, saying they must go through the proper channel, which was the State Protocol.
However, when the Deputy minister designate was reached yesterday on phone for his comment on what the President had told him in the Castle, he said he would not talk to this reporter, upon the claim that he was misreported the last time he spoke to The Chronicle. He accused the reporter of adding information he was not aware of to the story and demanded that he (the reporter) to come to his office if he wanted to talk to him still, but left the reporter hanging on the line when he asked when he would be available to meet him today. An attempt to get him back online proved futile as his phone was switched off.
Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to deny The Chronicle report of last Tuesday, March 1st that he was involved in visa racketeering, the MP for Berekum, and deputy minister-designate for the Interior, Hon Kwame Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, was very economical with the truth when contacted by Adom FM to comment on the story.
After a translation of the official visa application letter he had written to the South Korean Embassy, on behalf of the African Local Business Forum, was read to him on air the day before his vetting, the minister said what he had sent was only a hand-written note, “it was not even typed.”
What he did not know at the time was that The Chronicle had reproduced the letter bearing his signature on an official Local Government Ministry letterhead on its front page. He went on to assure the host, Mr. Ernest Frimpong Manso that when he appeared before the Appointments Committee, he would give the same responses as had given Adom Fm. After seeing his signature on the letter we published, however, one wondered whether he could stick to his words on Adom Fm's morning news review programme, 'Adwaso Nsem'?
The retired Captain had also told the host that the note he gave the people was only to lead them to make enquiries whether visas could be granted them to travel to Cyprus, Malaysia and South Korea to participate in trade fairs in those countries.
He said he had known the members of the forum to be decent and genuine businessmen, but could not indicate where their offices were located.
He told the host that he personally wrote a letter to the Chief of Staff to facilitate the process of visa acquisition.
Hon Effah-Dartey had said also on the programme that he was considering a rejoinder and a complaint to the National Media Commission and ended his comment with the words, “Its OK, God would provide.”
The Chronicle reported on Tuesday, March 1st, that Effah-Dartey's visa racket had been blown open after a five-member delegation of the African Business Forum, led by the Hon. Minister due to travel to South Korea was refused visa.
Effah-Dartey had stated in an letter to the South Korean Embassy that he was leading a five-man delegation to Cyprus, Malaysia and South Korea on business negotiations and required a transit visa. The letter stated “The African Local Business Forum is sending a five-man delegation to Cyprus, Malaysia and South Korea on business negotiations for an exhibition and real estate development from 22 October to 31st October 2004. “I will be leading the team as Deputy Minister.” I will be grateful if immigrant visa could be issued to enable us pass through South Korea on the last leg of our visit.” What caused the Koreans to raise their eyebrows was how such a prank could be expected to fool the Koreans into believing that what was clearly a programme that belonged to Kwamena Bartels' Private Sector Development schedule, could be appropriated by the Deputy Minister for Local Government.
The Deputy Minister of Interior -designate, in the radio interview, denied also his association with the African Local Business Forum, saying, “I don't know the members of the forum, and they only approached me to help them to attend a fair in Cyprus.”
When he appeared before the Appointments Committee on Wednesday, March 2 to take his turn at the vetting, he told the committeee that he had instructed his lawyers to initiate legal action against The Chronicle.