The Ghana Immigration Service has dismissed claims suggesting that some of its officers operating at the Kotoka International Airport engage in corrupt practices, including extortion of monies from travelers who use the airport.
In an interview with ABC News, Assistant Superintendent of Immigration (ASI) Barbara Sam, in charge of Public Relations at the KIA said such claims against its officers are false and inaccurate.
Her reaction follows several reported cases extortion by a section of the public, alleging that some uniformed personnel at the airport believed to be immigration officers, engaged in begging and pilfering in the discharge of their duties.
That information out there is not accurate. The officers stationed here at KIA are very professional and we are strict on corruption, extortion or bribery. So I can speak for a fact that our officers do not engage in such activities.
“GIS officers are up to task. We are very professional in our dealings with the public and we do not condone corruption,” she said.
ASI Sam indicated that though there had been such accusations of corruption against some of its officers in the past, none of them had been proven to be true after series of investigations.
She said investigation into such accusations had revealed that the ill-practices were conducted by other uniformed personnel at the airport who were not immigration officers.
“There have been accusations of our officers doing ABC, but after investigation, you will realise that it was not immigration officers who did it. People usually get confused with the uniforms at the airport.
“Because the uniforms look alike, people have the notion that whoever works at the airport is an immigration officer. But after investigation, you will realise that the person dealing with the complainant wasn’t an immigration officer,” she said.
She urged all persons with evidence of extortion or any other form of corruption against its officer to visit any of its offices and lodge a complaint, assuring that such cases would be investigated when they are reported.
“They should report the people or whoever is behind it to the KIA regional command or any of our offices and we will investigate. If the person deserves some form of punishment after investigation, we will do that,” she said.
Concerns have been raised about the reported cases of extortion by some unidentified personnel who man the KIA as the practice is regarded a blot on the country’s identity and culture.
In February this year, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) set up a taskforce to look into allegations of coercion and extortion by uniformed personnel working at the KIA.
Describing such practices as “highly unprofessional, unethical and unacceptable,” the GCAA resolved to investigate the allegations and work to nib such practices in the bud.
Last month, the GIS said it had rolled out programmes, including unique identification of its officers at the KIA.
The move, it explained, will help reduce the perception of extortion and corruption as travelers will be able to differentiate between GIS staff and other workers at the airport.