Accra, Feb 21, GNA - Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of the Interior, on Tuesday said the decision by Government to re-equip the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to embark on border patrol to ensure the safety of the country's borders was not for any ulterior motive. He explained that although border patrols needed collaborative efforts by all stakeholders, it was the sole mandate of GIS to perform such duties, which would help to fulfil efforts by Government to intensify border control and enforce the ECOWAS Protocols relating to the movement of people across the country's borders.
Taking his turn at the weekly meet-the-press series in Accra, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, therefore, advised any aggrieved personnel of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to seek further clarifications from their Commissioner other than resorting to the press.
Various agencies and departments including GIS, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Narcotic Control Board and National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) fall under the Sector Ministry.
Giving the overview of the Ministry, which also oversees affairs of the Ghana Refugee Board and the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms, Papa Owusu-Ankomah said various measures and programmes were embarked upon during the past year to ensure the maintenance of internal security for all persons in Ghana.
He said, for instance, the year 2005 recorded 14.5 per cent decrease in the total number of crimes reported to the Police while 200 suspected criminals were arrested and were being prosecuted for various crimes such as robbery, unlawful possession narcotics and child trafficking.
He said the GNFS was able to contain 2,683 fires nationwide including the PSC Tema Shipyard and the Azar Chemical Industry factory in Accra from spreading to other properties.
The cost of damage caused by fires countrywide was estimated at 53.6 billion cedis, the Minister noted.
With road accidents, Papa Owusu-Ankomah said though there was slight increase in motor accident cases on some major roads during the early parts of 2005, joint exercises coupled with continuous education brought sanity on the roads reflecting in a general decline of 12 per cent.
Fatalities in motor accidents reduced by 26 per cent and those who received injuries went down by 19 per cent.
The Immigration Service successfully completed the computerized passenger clearance project at the Kotoka International Airport, which had remarkably minimised passenger processing time at the arrival and departure points, the Minister said, adding that work was ongoing at the other major entry points including Paga, Elubo and Aflao to install similar equipment.
He said 288 foreign nationals made up of 160 Africans, 90 Asians and eight Western Europeans were arrested and repatriated 2005 for committing various immigration offences ranging from illegal stay, illegal employment or the use of fraudulent documents. On the refugee situation in the Country, Papa Owusu-Ankomah said Ghana currently hosted 62,000 refugees with the bulk being Liberians staying at the two main Refugee Settlements at the Buduburum Camp in the Central Re gion and the Krisan Camp in the Western Region, all managed by NADMO. However, he said 3,000 of the number had so far left under the Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation of Liberian Refugee in Ghana.
"With the election of a Government in Liberia, the Ministry has intensified discussions with the United Nations High Commission for Refugee to speed up the Voluntary Repatriation exercise of the Liberians to return to help to rebuild their country.
He said the Ghana Refugee Board had also processed all asylum seekers made up of 300 from the Durfur Region of Sudan and 15,000 Togolese refugees as an obligation of the various Refugee Agreements that Ghana had ratified.
He, however, said those refugees, who rioted and damaged properties worth over one billion cedis at the Krisan Refugee Camp had been arrested and were facing the due process of the law.