EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: A source close to diplomatic passport saga investigation team has told Eye Africa TV Monday evening, that President Adama Barrow’s special adviser on youth and leader of The Gambia Peoples’ Democratic Party (GPDP) Henry Gomez was questioned by the police in connection to a diplomatic passport he once acquired for someone.
But this latest development has no connection with the recent diplomatic passport saga at the ministry of foreign affairs, in which police arrested two men on allegation of their involvement in providing diplomatic passports to individuals.
Our source close to the GPDP party said he had contacted Mr. Gomez about the matter but he said it was not true. But another source confirmed to us that it is true that Mr. Gomez was invited by the police for questioning.
We could not reach both Mr. Gomez and the police spokesperson on their phones for their confirmation of the matter. In The Gambia, information from authorities especially complicated ones which the public deserve to know is usually hard to get.
Gambia government, through its spokesperson Monday praised itself in a statement, saying it has made a significant progress in the diplomatic passport saga.
It said intense investigations into allegations had led to the arrest of several people in Germany, who are currently providing pivotal information to the authorities and 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.
How it started
Diplomatic passport sagas have been reported even during former exiled president Yahya Jammeh’s regime in which several people were prosecuted. Such cases where not regularly reported in the media as it is happening today.
The current diplomatic passport saga in The Gambia started last August when two officials of the foreign affairs ministry were arrested for their alleged involvement in issuing national diplomatic passports to individuals.
Initially, both police and the ministry continued to protect the names of the two implicated men from the public but police published their names, two weeks later, saying three of them were involved but the third person, who traveled outside the country before the incident was unfolded is still at large.
Several other arrests and questioning by the police ensued from the scandal, including a senior protocol officer at the foreign affairs ministry, chief driver at state house, immigration officers and a Nigerian national.
As investigation continued into the saga, a letter with the letter head of the Attorney General’s chamber that was made available to Eye Africa TV also saw Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou apply for diplomatic for five of his relatives.
In the letter, Mr. Tambadou purportedly stated that his mother and step mother regularly travels to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for annual for Hajj. “Given their advance age and current state of physical health, travelling on ordinary passports create immense physical and logistical challenge for them, especially regarding their movements on arrival and departure from the airport,” the letter dated 6 June 2019 stated.
Many Gambians say they may not have much to criticise Mr. Tambadou because he has used the right channel to get the national travel document by officially applying for it, but many said providing diplomatic passports to five of his family members was too much.