A High Court judge in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, has expressed concern about how some officials of the Ghana Immigration Service are aiding foreigners to stay illegally in the country by circumventing the country’s immigration laws.
He has, therefore, appealed to the Minister of the Interior to reconsider the use of the discretion by immigration officers in granting residence permits to foreigners who arrive in the country on the 60 days visitors’ B1 visas.
His Lordship Justice E. Senyo Amedahe, who made the appeal pointed out that, it had become the order of the day for immigration officers to grant one-year resident permits to foreign visitors when they are not even qualified under the Immigration Act of Ghana, Act 2000 (Act 573) to be granted such permission.
He said this while giving a ruling on an application for the variation of the bail conditions imposed by the court on four Chinese nationals who were arrested for engaging in illegal mining activities also known as ‘galamsey’ on an alleged disputed 40-acre land at Kwapia near Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.
The four Chinese, Shi Li Wen, Huang Shen Jun, Li De Hao, Lan Hai Song, and their Ghanaian counterpart, Asamoah Kati, were arrested by the police following an Absconding Warrant Order granted by the court in a trespassing case brought before it.
The complainants, Messrs Borometech Construction Company Limited, Seidu Fanzia School, and Samuel Aboagye, had issued a writ against the four Chinese and Kati, for trespassing on their land.
Lawyers for the complainants after filing a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim also filed an application for an Order for an Absconding Warrant to be issued against the defendants to cause them to deposit some substantial security at the registry of the court pending the final determination of the case, especially the four, who are foreign nationals.
The court had since ordered the immediate deportation of the four Chinese, who had no resident and work permits at the time of their arrest and their subsequent appearance in court.
Justice Amedahe, cited a particular case before the court and expressed worry about attempts by some immigration officers in the Ashanti Region to aid foreigners living in Ghana illegally to circumvent the Immigration Act to legalize their stay and engage in illegal acts to destroy the country’s environment.
Some immigration officers, according to the judge, tried to aid the suspects in the case to apply for an extension of their resident permits while they were being kept in prison pending the hearing of their bail application.
They were, however, exposed when discrepancies were detected in the dates the applications were made and the signatures of the applicants.
Justice Amedahe said the fight against the illegal mining menace must be extended to the Ghana Immigration Service, where the residential status of foreigners who came into the country with 60 days visitors’ visas B1 issued by the country’s embassies outside, is quickly upgraded into resident permits by these officers.
Justice Amedahe said there was the need for all Ghanaians to play their roles responsibly in protecting the natural resources and the environment, adding that “each of us has a role to play in fixing Ghana, our motherland”.