EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: President Adama Barrow’s chief driver has debunked social media rumors that he was arrested alongside others for their involvement in a diplomatic passport saga at Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry, last week.
Mansa Sumareh told Eye Africa TV Sunday evening, “I was neither arrested nor questioned by any security agency regarding such matter.”
Social media reports alleged that Mr. Sumareh and others close to the presidency were arrested by the security for involving in the last week passport saga.
Last Sunday, two officials at the Foreign Affairs Ministry were confirmed to have been arrested by police for their involvement in illegal issuing of diplomatic passports to individuals, but neither the police no the ministry could disclose their names. Three of them were reported to have been involved in the saga but the third person, who traveled outside the country before the incident was unfolded is still at large.
One week today since the arrest of the two officials, both the Ministry and the police are still protecting their identities. Many have called it an unjust treatment of citizens, saying if it were officials of inferior offices, their names would have been published.
When the news break out, a week ago, the ministry’s spokesperson Saikou Ceesay confirmed the arrest of the two officials to Eye Africa TV. He said they were helping the police in their investigation. The names of the officials is still not made public.
An Eye Africa TV source at the ministry, who want to remain anonymous said all the staff of the ministry are reporting to work, but said, “We at the office are even worried as no one knows the persons in question.”
Ebrima Dibba, a former protocol officer at Gambia’s Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, had once accused government of issuing international passports to foreigners during an Eye Africa TV interview, naming one of them as a Senegalese national Mr. Waggeh.
When the police spokesperson was contacted last week, he said he could not confirm the authenticity of the information but promised to laisse with sister security services to find out. Since then, he could not be reached on his phone while other officer Eye Africa TV spoke to said they cannot comment on the matter.
Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Ceesay told Eye Africa Sunday evening that he is not in the position to disclose names of the arrested officials who are implicated in the diplomatic passport saga, as the matter is under police investigation.
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.