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Immigration Chief: Men withheld information

Immigration Chief: Men withheld information

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The grounds on which African nationals Benjamin Fife Danquah and Emmanuel Johnson Chijioke were detained at Her Majesty’s Prisons for several years were justified.{{more}}

This is the view of Stanford Hamilton, Head of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Immigration Department.

“I am convinced that it was, and still is, the intention of these individuals not to return to their country. Therefore, that would have been their reason for withholding information from the authorities,” Hamilton told SEARCHLIGHT.

“So when the claim is made that these persons were illegally detained, nothing could be further from the truth, as far as I am concerned,” he continued.

“In my opinion, Chijioke did not come to our shores with any pristine purity, but with criminal intentions.”

According to Hamilton, Chijioke entered the state illegally in 2001, initially spending time in Bequia, without having cleared immigration and without being granted any status.

He was picked up, and kept on remand at the Central Police Station in Kingstown, Hamilton said.

Chijioke was subsequently released on a security bond paid by Kenneth Joof, a Nigerian national, with the understanding that Chijioke would be sent back to Liberia, the immigration head told SEARCHLIGHT.

“He (Chijioke) disappeared within Vincentian society. However, later on, information was received of a drug ring in which his name was included,” Hamilton explained.

Hamilton said Chijioke evaded local authorities and fled to Grenada, and while in that neighbouring territory, Hamilton said the Vincentian authorities received information that a local woman was paid a sum of money to have an arranged marriage with him, “in an effort to have him apply for citizenship.”

He re-entered the state by boat and, according to Hamilton, Chijioke was able to register as a voter.

“Again another illegal act! The I.D. card was fraudulently obtained,” Hamilton contended.

Chijioke once again evaded the local authorities and made his way to St Lucia, but was subsequently returned to St Vincent after being discovered with a partially burnt Vincentian identification card and was charged for illegally entering St. Lucia.

He was sent back to St Vincent, where he was picked up Hamilton said, because he again entered the country with no document.

Following the outcome of the court hearing, a deportation order was made, “so immigration set out to establish the true identity,” Hamilton said.

He further explained that the Liberian Embassy in the United Kingdom is reluctant to issue a travel document to Chijioke, as it is unsure if his claim of Liberian nationality is true.

Likewise, Hamilton said, Danquah entered the country in 2005 bearing a South African passport in the name of Simon Patouka.

He was granted permission to stay two weeks in the country.

He remained in St Vincent for a few days, before going on to the British Virgin Islands.

According to Hamilton, Danquah (then under the name Patouka) was sent back to St Vincent after he arrived in the BVI without a passport.

He claimed that his passport was stolen while in transit in Antigua.

Hamilton said that Danquah told the local authorities upon his subsequent arrival here, that the Antiguan officials went ahead and sent him on to the BVI despite him having no documentation.

Danquah was arrested for entering the state without any documentation. However, a photocopy of the passport he possessed just days before was produced and the process of checking his nationality began, Hamilton said.

The South African consulate in Jamaica was contacted. However, it took a while for the results to return, but when they did, they revealed that the South African passport Danquah was carrying was a false document, and the South African officials said that they would not accept him as he was not a national.

“From since 2005, we were trying to obtain from Simon Patouka (Danquah) where he was from and who he really was,” Hamilton told SEARCHLIGHT.

“He never disclosed this until almost two years later, when he revealed his name as Benjamin Fife Danquah.”

“After two years, he was still claiming he was Simon Patouka. He even wrote letters to the Prime Minister, the Governor General and the Commissioner of Police,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said that information received from other persons also later revealed that he was a Ghanaian.

And so the process began to ascertain whether what Danquah had said was true, which is where the process is now.

The part of the process which deals with obtaining accurate information of the two men’s origins has taken as long as it has, due to the nature of this part of the process, Hamilton explained.

“Sometimes we look from a Caribbean perspective, but Ghana and Liberia have millions of people, and in passing information through agencies, they will ask you to wait for a response.”

“So sometimes the process which you have no control over takes a while,” the immigration’s top official said.

“I have had to go through the Foreign Ministry and other local law enforcement agencies, so I can’t give an answer why the process is taking this long,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Hamilton disclosed that they had received positive feedback from the Ghanaian Embassy to have a document issued for Benjamin Fife Danquah, but will now have to wait until it has been issued.

“This is being done through the UK consulate,” Hamilton said. (DD)

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