EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: It is now over a week since two officials of Gambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were reported to have been arrested for their alleged involvement in issuing national diplomatic passports to individuals, and yet the ministry and the police are hiding their identities.
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 three of them were involved in the alleged fraud but the third person, who traveled outside the country before the incident was unfolded is still at large.
He said the arrested two officials were helping the police in their investigation. But one week on today, 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, 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 officers who 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 the 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.