The Secretary General of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) Richard Akpokavie has admitted for the first time at an Accra High Court Labour Division on Tuesday that the GOC played a role in the media accreditation process that led to the Visa scam at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held at Gold Coast in Australia.
Hundreds of Ghanaians were flagged and deported from the Games despite holding legitimate media accreditations.
A former Project Officer of the GOC, Erasmus Kwaw who was initially responsible for the media accreditation process at the GOC, avers his “appointment was unlawfully terminated in August 2017 by the defendant (GOC) to enable them perpetrate an illegality in the media accreditation process that led to the infamous deportation of some 60 Ghanaian ‘journalists’ at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia.”
The GOC has always claimed it knew nothing about the deportations even though the deportees held valid media accreditation tags to the Games.
Mr. Akpokavie’s admission is contrary to claims made earlier by the GOC President Ben Nunoo Mensah who said the GOC played no role in the media accreditation process in his written and oral submissions to the court.
Also, three journalists namely Alex Anyankwaa, Napoleon Paul Agyeman and Michael Okuley similarly gave evidence at the Labour court earlier that they never dealt with the GOC when applying for media accreditation for the Games.
The plaintiff in the labour case, Erasmus Kwaw, who is a former project Officer of the GOC, subpoened the GOC scribe to produce documents relating to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2014 African Youth Games and Minutes of a GOC Emergency Board meeting on 23rd April 2018.
Minutes of the GOC Board meeting reveals top government officials including the then Deputy Minister of Sports Pius Enam Hadzide, former Director General of the National Sports Authority Robert Sarfo Mensah and some GOC officials such as First Vice President Paul Atchoe and GOC Treasurer Theo Edzie are alleged to have added illegitimate names to Ghana’s list for the Games in 2018.
Nobody has been held responsible for the Visa scam at Australia.
Meanwhile, the GOC President had claimed during cross examination that his outfit has no absolute records of the plantiff’s participation in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 African Youth Games in Botswana. He further claimed he had not inherited any such documents from his predecessor when he took office in 2017.
However, Mr. Akpokavie told the court the documents were always accessible to anybody who needed them. He explained that as SG, he first received the reports on the Games in 2014 and kept custody of those documents after he was re-elected to the same position in 2017.
The GOC SG further confirmed to the court that the plaintiff was part of the media team that attended the Glasgow 2014 Games and 2014 African Youth Games in Gaborone.
The plaintiff avers he is owed per diem allowances for working as a Team Press Attache in those Games.
The trial judge Justice Ananda Aikins, adjourned the case to next year.