EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: The illegal Gambian diplomatic passport saga that hit the country’s foreign affairs ministry last month, with the arrest and detention of two staff has taken a rather new dimension, following fresh arrests and naming of foreign nationals in the dodgy deal.
On Tuesday, a source informed Eye Africa TV that one Modou Sowe; a senior protocol officer at State House was arrested by police in connection with illegal issuing of diplomatic passport. The police on Monday published names of the three staff of the foreign ministry involved in the passport fraud, with one of them currently at large.
Mr. Sowe is said to be the one responsible for diplomatic passport files at Sate House. “He is currently under police custody and will spend the night there,” one of our sources said.
They also announced the arrest of one Michael T Ladipo; a Nigerian national in connection to the case. Apparently, Nigerians all over the world have a stained name for involvement in illegal matters.
Both the police and the foreign affairs ministry have been protecting the names of the three men from being published and that had angered many Gambians, calling it unfair treatment of citizens. They said if the men were staff of inferior offices, their names would have been published on the very day they were arrested.
A source also informed Eye Africa TV on Tuesday that most of the Gambian diplomatic passports are not printed by the Immigration, but those responsible usually award the contrast to to a Nigerian partner on the excuse that the the printer at the immigration department was faulty.
The release of the names of the three men came just less than 24 hours after Eye Africa TV run a story questioning the foreign Affairs ministry and the police on why they were still protecting the names of the implicated men.
Illegal issuing of national documents such as passport is treated as criminal offence under The Gambian constitution but the act continues to persist with very few being prosecuted. If the alleged officials are charged before the court, their charges will include fraud.
In the past, several individuals have been arrested and arraigned before the court on charges of fraudulent issuing of national documents to individuals. In September 2011, a man was charged before a lower court in Kanifing on a charge of receiving monies from people on the pretext that he would provide national passports to them.