EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia government has made a statement in which it praised itself for what it calls a significant progress in the diplomatic passport saga that first involved three staff of the foreign affairs ministry.
The statement that was signed by the government spokesperson, Ebrima G Sankareh, states that intense investigations into allegations had led to the arrest of several people in Germany, who are currently providing pivotal information to the authorities.
He said similar arrests of culprits in The Gambia have also yielded significant leads into the vast and sophisticated criminal network that risks damaging the good reputation of our peaceful and law-abiding country.
Earlier in August, two staff of the foreign ministry were arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in issuing of diplomatic passports to individuals. Three of them were named in the saga but the third one traveled out of the country before the incident was unfolded. “Ever since the news of the Diplomatic Passports emerged, Government quickly established a Task Force comprising officials of The Gambia Police Force, Immigration Department and the State Intelligence Services (SIS) to adequately probe the matter and prosecute all those found complicit in the sale, procurement, manufacture and illegal acquisition of Gambian Diplomatic Passports,” the release stated.
It said the Task Force will also conduct a complete inventory of all Diplomatic Passports issued since 2016 with verification of all their holders’ profiles. Several officials, including a senior protocol officer at State House, Immigration officers at a Nigerian national were also invited by the police for questioning for their suspected involvement in the fraud saga. President Barrow’s chief driver's name was also implicated in the saga but State House later wrote debunking a Standard Newspaper article that called the man as the President’s chief driver. “So far, over a dozen citizens and non-citizens have been apprehended and as the investigations widen, numerous more suspects may either be arrested or be called in for questioning to help the Task Force shatter this criminal cabal and restore sanity in the entire process.”
The statement call for the public to fully cooperate with investigators and where possible, to provide crucial information that may be helpful to the Task Force.
It says under Gambian law, the issuing of Diplomatic Passports rests exclusively with the
Presidency and those that acquired their passports legitimately by using the established procedural channels are not the subject of this criminal inquiry.