Fact CheckPolitics

John Mahama’s claim that his government deported 5000 Chinese miners is false

Claim: Former president Mahama has claimed that during his tenure in government, he deported over 5000 Chinese miners. 

Completely false! Data from the annual reports of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) reveals that from 2012-2016, which was the tenure of Former President John Mahama, the total number of foreigners deported and repatriated was 2,372. 

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Former President John Mahama has claimed that almost 5000 illegal Chinese miners were deported from Ghana during his tenure in government. 

The claim was made on Ghana Tonight, a show hosted by Alfred Ocansey on TV3, a television station in Ghana which was adjudged the most watched TV station in 2021 by Ipsos Ghana, the global leader in market research and television audience share measurement.

The shorter version of the interview posted on TV3’s YouTube channel with over 400,000 subscribers has garnered over 1,000 views so far. The claim was made from the 19 seconds to 36 seconds of the interview. The claim has also been published on news sites including 3news.com, ghanaweb.com, and ghpage.com. Social media users on  Twitter have also published the claim. 

According to Mr. Mahama, “When I became president, I was faced with the same illegal gold mining. I deported almost 5,000 illegal Chinese miners. I didn’t say this because of the good relationship we have with China; we should allow them to continue to engage in illicit activities.”

This comes in the wake of fears expressed about the prosecution of popular Chinese businesswoman Aisha Huang, who is standing trial at an Accra Circuit Court for engaging in illegal mining. Her arrest again, which follows her illegal return to Ghana after her repatriation in September 2018, has sparked various conversations with Ghanaians sceptical about whether President  Akufo Addo is willing to fight the menace.  Due to this, DUBAWA decided to verify the claim. 


Dubawa’s research was directed to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). It is the only government institution mandated to regulate and monitor the entry, residence, employment, and exit of all foreigners. In our research, we found data on the deportation and repatriation of foreign nationals from 2012-2016. 

What does the law say about Deportation and Repatriation?

To begin, it is important to understand the difference between deportation and repatriation within the context of Ghana’s law.

Ghana’s Immigration Law 2000 (ACT 567) clearly spells out the circumstances under which one can be deported or repatriated. Sections 34 and 21 of the act are specific on deportation and repatriation, respectively.  


According to the law, a foreign national is liable to deportation if,

(a) a court recommendation for his deportation is effective under subsection (2) of this section;

(b) he has been found by a court to be destitute or without means of support, or to be of unsound mind or mentally handicapped;

(c) he is a prohibited immigrant;

(d) he is in Ghana without a valid permit, or any of the conditions which his permit was granted has been broken, or 

(e) his presence in Ghana is, in the opinion of the Minister, not conducive to the public good.

(2) A recommendation for deportation is effective if it is made by a court upon conviction for an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding three months with or without a fine, and (a) on an appeal against the conviction, the appellate court has upheld the recommendation; or

(b) no appeal has been brought within the time allowed for appeal, but the recommendation was made by (i) the High Court or — (ii) an inferior court and has been approved by the Chief Justice.

Punishment For Deportees That Return To Ghana    

According to Section 37 subsections 2 and 3 of the Immigration Law 2000 (ACT 567), a person who enters Ghana after he or she has been deported is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.

“A person who enters Ghana when a deportation order made against him is in force commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years and may be deported without any further deportation order being made. 

Where a person to be deported is serving a sentence of imprisonment, he shall, unless the Minister otherwise directs, complete the sentence”.


In Section 21 under the theme, removal of illegal immigrants, it indicates that

(1) Where the presence of a person in Ghana is unlawful, that person may be repatriated from Ghana by an order of the Director.

(2) Where a person is ordered to be removed from Ghana under this Act, that person may be arrested and detained for such a period as may be necessary for making arrangements for his removal.

(3) A person may for the purpose of subsection (1) be detained in any police station or immigration detention area.

What does the GIS data on deportation/repatriation say?

After perusing the data from the annual reports of the Ghana Immigration Service, we found out that the data on foreigners deported and repatriated with their country of origin attached was available from only 2012 (page 25). This made it difficult to find out the number of Chinese nationals who were deported and repatriated  during 2012-2016. Moreover, data on deportation and repatriation from 2014 to 2016 were generalized.

In view of this, DUBAWA decided to sum up the overall number of foreign nationals who were deported from 2012 to 2016 to find out if they would surpass 5,000. We had 759. In 2013, as cited below in figure 1, the data was not divided into deported and repatriated nationals. As such, we decided to add the figure to the data on deportation. 

This figure (759) is the total number of foreigners deported from Ghana between 2012 -2016 thus it can’t be possible for 5000 Chinese miners to be deported during his tenure in government. 

Deportation of Foreign Nationals from 2012-2016
YearDeportationRepatriationDeportation/ Repatriation
Total 7591,2562372
Source: Ghana Immigration Service                                           Figure 1

When we added foreigners who were deported and repatriated from 2012-2016, the total figure was 2,372 far less than 5000 quoted by Mr. Mahama.

To further understand this, DUBAWA decided to break them down year after year. 

In 2012, on page 25 of the annual Ghana Immigration Service report, a total of 243 foreign nationals were repatriated/deported to their various countries.   Eight of these were deported, with 235 repatriated. According to the data, even though 127 Chinese nationals were repatriated, no Chinese national was deported. Notable among the repatriated cases were illegal Chinese miners, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nigerians, and Ukrainians. 

In 2013, on page 22, 1060 foreigners were sent back to their countries. 713 Chinese nationals were the highest to be repatriated and deported. 

In 2014 on page 27,495 other nationals were also repatriated from Ghana for flouting immigration laws. Additionally, 16 persons of other nationalities were deported from Ghana to their respective home countries for various immigration offenses.

In 2015, on page 18 a total of 427 foreign nationals were removed from Ghana to their respective home countries. Of the total number removed, 424 persons have been repatriated, while 3 others were deported.

In 2016 page 13, 130 foreigners of various nationalities were removed from the country. Out of the 103 were repatriated while 24 were deported. 


Per the data from the annual reports from the Ghana Immigration Service, we can conclude that Mr. Mahama’s claim that about 5,000 Chinese miners were deported during his tenure in office is completely false. The data showed that less than 3,000 foreigners in total were deported and repatriated between 2012-2016.

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