The Mahama government was aware that Ghanaian taxpayers may end up footing the bill of the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees’ continued stay in Ghana, according to deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah noted that, the two-year agreement with the United States of America to host the two Yemeni nationals, which ended on January 6, 2017, did not outline an exit plan.
Furthermore, the cost of monitoring the two nationals was going to be borne by Ghana after the agreement ended.
These details were among what Mr. Oppong Nkrumah described as “strange” points in the agreement.
“…One of the things we found strange was that, it did not have an exit clause in it. Another thing we found strange is, it appears in this arrangement that, yes, the Americans were going to assist us in the first two years take care of them, but implicit in this agreement was that the Ghanaian taxpayer, and that’s what the previous administration agreed to, was going to be the one literally providing for their security management in this country.”
No benefits for Ghana
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah also said there were no apparent benefits to Ghana for hosting the two Yemeni nationals.
“You could also not find in this agreement what the government of Ghana or what the people of Ghana were gaining from this all together… You also don’t see why the entire enterprise was shrouded in secrecy,” he remarked on the contents of the agreement.
As it stands now, residuals from the financial support the government got from the US are currently catering for the security arrangement of the two.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson has confirmed that US government no longer has any responsibilities towards the former Guantanamo Bay detainees after the deal expired.
The two detainees Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, who were in detention for 14 years after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, were brought to Ghana in January 2016, for a period of two years.
But some seven months into their stay, in July 2016, they were granted refugee status in Ghana.
The following month, they were also granted special Ghanaian passports that will expire in August 2018.
Because of their refugee status, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, told Parliament that the government has no option of returning the former detainees to their home country.
The two Yemeni will also have to consent to being moved to a different country.
‘Incompetence from government’
The Akufo-Addo administration has stated that it was not aware of any these developments, though a Former Information Minister, Mahama Ayariga, described such claims as a show of incompetence.
He argued that the three sector agencies namely; the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and National Security had supervisory role over the former detainees “so if you [government] want to have a full picture, you would have gone to these three agencies to find out, and if you didn’t find anything on record, you would have [also] invited those who were occupying these offices for more details.”