EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia police Monday released names of three protocol officers of the country’s Foreign Affairs ministry who were alleged to have been arrested for their involvement in illegal issuing of diplomatic passports to individuals.
The release of the names 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.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Lamin Njie told Eye Africa that on 23rd August, the Inspector General’s office opened an investigation into the case of the three protocol officers. He said the men involved are Saikou Sanneh, Ibrahim JS Sanneh and Ousman Touray; who is currently at large.
Some two weeks ago, foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Saikou Ceesay confirmed to Eye Africa TV that two of the involved protocol officers were arrested for their alleged involvement in the diplomatic passport fraud, while the third person, who traveled outside of the country before the incident unfolded, was still at large.
One week on yesterday, Mr. Ceesay was contacted but he still maintained that he was not in the position to disclose their names because the matter was under investigation. While police spokesperson could not be reached on his phone last week, other officers Eye Africa TV spoke to said they cannot comment on the matter.
Police spokesperson Njie also confirmed that later on, one Mansa Sumareh was also arrested for allegedly involving with other arrested officials in helping to facilitate diplomatic passport for one Bakary Susso.
Mr. Sumareh, chief driver of President Adama Barrow had earlier denied his involvement in the case in a Sunday interview with Eye Africa TV. “I was neither arrested nor questioned by any security agency regarding such matter,” he said.
Keeping the names of the men from being published by both police and the foreign affairs ministry have angered many Gambians, calling it unjust treatment of citizens, saying if it were officials of inferior offices, their names would have been published.
Suspected fake Diplomatic passport holder arrested at airport
Spokesperson Njie further confirmed that on 24th August, one Malick Tunkara was also arrested at the Airport in possession of a suspected fake diplomatic passport, leading to the arrest of Yankuba Susso, Amadou Touray, and Musa Njie for their involvement.
He said also on 27th August, Superintendent Banka Jatta and Chief Inspector Lang Tombong Sabally of The Gambia Immigration Department were invited for questioning and on 30th August, Michael T Ladipo, a Nigerian national was arrested in connection to the case.
An Eye Africa TV source at the foreign ministry, who want to remain anonymous Sunday said all the staff of the ministry were reporting to work, but said they at the office were all even worried as no one knows the persons in question.
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.