Following the announcement of reforms in visa acquisition procedures, among other things, by the US embassy, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, has come under intense backlash with a lot of Ghanaians throwing salvos from all angles directed at him.
Some have even questioned the motive behind a drastic reform withdrawing courtesies and protocols accorded members of parliament and some politicians.
But what we tend to overlook is the bitter truth that the diplomatic community in Ghana are wide awake and privy to all those tricks that amount to Visa racketeering.
Coincidentally, this paper has established from a damning undercover video currently in our possession that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party office near Paloma Hotel was a busy spot for Visa racketeering during the party reign. This happened under the full glare of then President John Mahama.
As the party in power, capacity building workshops and other international invitations from NDC internationally-affiliated socialist groups were abused. The NDC party office was virtually turned into all manner of visa trades where a special account was created at Fidelity Bank for transactions.
The video has private undercover investigators posing as desperate travelers who thronged the NDC party office in search of opportunities to travel abroad to make a better living.
It was also shocking to learn that this practice is seen as a major reward package for NDC foot soldiers who could afford paying some aspects of the costs.
It was nail-biting to discover that a whopping sum of ‘Obama USD $7,000 and $1,500’ were amounts mentioned as charges from prospective migrants. All these being demanded and captured on the video tape.
This goes a long way to vindicate the US Embassy to the effect that the embassy was right in stripping some politicians off their protocols and courtesies under international conventions.
It was clear these fraudulent activities took centre stage through the help of well-known big hands from the party leadership. All they cared about was amassing wealth and nothing short of that.
The private investigators engaged one of the most popular activists at the party office whose name was only given as Dela.
He was the point man at the centre of collecting the visa monies but the first point of call was this guy at the reception who gave details of how the whole visa deal works; then Dela took over from him to the next stage of the process.
We bring to our readers excerpts of the investigations as they engaged Dela:
Investigators meet Dela
Dela: Good morning Chief, am Dela.
Investigator: Good morning boss
Dela at this point orders a loud radio voice of Kwesi Pratt Jnr. be toned down for smooth discussion
Dela: So am sure he’s briefed you about everything exactly, then I am just going to buttress the point
Dela: It is simple… these are things we do in-house for our people. NPP NDC are the only two political parties and we have political affiliates from outside you know and invitations come constantly I mean workshops, conferences as capacity building.
I mean that’s the partnerships they have for us, I mean they are ahead of us. They are the democracy and we are developing. So it is a partnership. Part of the partnership is capacity building.
So sometimes they send us materials like these books, computers and part of the capacity building is the development of human resource so sometimes we sponsor them to come; we pay for their flight and everything then (they) take us through workshops like this week, the functional executive committee members are meeting with the SPA am sure you know the SPA, okay.
They have a resource person who is coming down to train all of us. Exactly! Now we also go there coz they invite us so they just send a list that they want this 20, 30 people to come for this workshop or conference. Usually training workshops 2 weeks, 3 weeks. So we have to shortlist from our four main electoral basics. Like I said it is something we did for our in-house people to reward our activists.
My boss Mr. Adams or General Mosquito or Dr. Kwabena Adjei or any of the national executives 2 or 3 will join the entourage so that the rest is our guest.
So my Boss Kofi Adams will have 5-slots, General Mosquito 5-slots among others. Usually we used to do it for our people then we pay for them but it is becoming expensive so now we share costs. But others that is why I told you it is an in-house thing, if you are well linked you can get somebody to do it for you.
All we need is your book the Passport; we don’t need anything else because we are preparing you as a member of the group. We don’t need any statement. So we will shortlist the names and send it back to them and then they will forward it to the embassy for visas.
Because the deal is exclusive you have to enroll at GHC200 and then an upfront payment of $1,500 Obama to $7,000, am sure when I use Obama you know what I mean in Ghana. So usually you pay this so that we start arranging things for you. This includes hotel accommodation among others. Visas issued are usually 6 months, 1-year, etc….