Three Ghanaian journalists belonging to the Presidential Press Corps at the Jubilee House were detained in Trinidad and Tobago for 10 hours while on official assignment.
The trio Nelson Awuku Mensah, Eric Acquah and Wilberforce Asare were detained at a Detention Centre at the Piarco International Airport by Trinidadian Boarder Agency officials, who doubted their credibility as members of President Akufo-Addo’s advance entourage.
“It took a call from the National Security Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to get the immigration officials to rescind their earlier decision to refuse us entry and admit us into Trinidad,” Mr. Asare of EIB Network revealed in a travelogue about the ordeal which happened on June 11, 2019.
Here are excerpts of his detailed travelogue as published on his station’s website:
“At about 22:00 hours local time in Ghana, the team of three, Nelson Awuku Mensah, Eric Acquah and yours truly, Wilberforce Asare, are airborne enroute to Amsterdam, then to New York and finally to Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago. After seven (7) hours of travel, we safely disembarked at Schiphol International Airport and connected on Delta Airline flight DL 312 to New York City.
“The 8-hour flight was smooth and the team successfully got admitted into New York City. Our four and a half hour connecting flight on Caribbean Airlines from New York to Trinidad and Tobago was some five hour away. We were thus offered a brilliant opportunity to explore the JFK International Airport and also to grab a bite before the last of our three flights from Accra to Trinidad and Tobago.
“17:00 hours local time in New York, the team of three were aboard Caribbean Airlines flight BW 525 for our four and a half hour flight to Port of Spain.
“At about 21:45 hours local time in Trinidad and Tobago, on the 11th of June, 2019, we got off the flight to complete our 30 hours of travel from Accra to Trinidad and Tobago. The next step was to complete arrival formalities, get a visa on arrival, pick our bags and proceed to the Hilton Trinidad Hotel, but here comes the defining moment.
“Upon presentation of our passports (Regular) to the Trinidadian Boarder Agency officials at the Piarco International Airport, they questioned our mission in Trinidad and Tobago and demanded to know where we would be staying during our visit. The team indicated to them that President Akufo Addo was visiting their nation and we were part of the team he was traveling with. At this point, the immigration official, from all indications, had become suspicious of us and the claims we are making of being a part of a team traveling with the President of Ghana, much to our surprise.
“The boarder officials then asked us to take a seat as they went ahead to verify whether or not we were indeed part of a team traveling with the President. After two hours of waiting, we were called to the desk and told that the Trinidad and Tobago immigration and airport authority have decided to refuse us entry into Trinidad and that at the next available flight, they would be sending us back to the last place we were before coming to Trinidad. O yes, total shock and dismay at the level of prejudice and unwillingness on the part of the boarder officials to give us a fair hearing and to even confirm either their Foreign Ministry and the Ghana Mission in Cuba who have concurrent jurisdiction in Trinidad and Tobago on who we really are and what our mission was.
“The officials proceeded to complete their documentation for purposes of deporting us from Trinidad. When they demanded of us to sign the deportation documents, we refused to do same. Realizing that they were in for a standoff with us, they decided to detain us at a detention centre at the airport until they could get us on a flight back to New York which was our last port of entry before we arrived in Port of Spain. From about 12:00 Midnight (04:00 hours GMT) to 9:00am (13:00 hours), all three of us were locked up at the detention without anyone saying anything to us.
“With the aid of the Wi-Fi connection at the airport, we managed to make contact with officials of the Foreign Ministry in Ghana, our colleague journalists and some government officials to get the word out there about our detention and possible removal from Trinidad. After 10 solid hours in detention, it took a call from the National Security Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to get the immigration officials to rescind their earlier decision to refuse us entry and admit us into Trinidad.
Off to the Hilton Hotel
“After cancelling the refusal stamp in out passports without prejudice (CWP), we were cleared to exit the airport. It took us about 30 minutes of waiting to retrieve our bags as they had been processed and tagged as a “Special Case” for deportation. When our bags were finally delivered to us, the three would-be detainees jumped into a tax for the 30 minutes journey to “hilly” Hilton Hotel. Our intended 12th of June, 2019, 10:00pm arrival at the hotel had effectively changed to 11:00am, 13th of June, 2019 arrival.”
Source: Daily Mail GH