By Ndey Sowe
Superintendent Mamanding S. Dibba, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Gambia Immigration Department, has refuted the allegation that they do discriminate against certain ethno linguistic groups when issuing national documents such as ID cards and passports.
He said: “We refute these allegations in the strongest possible terms. When you come to apply for a passport, ID card, or generally your national identity documents, we don’t ask for your tribe. All we ask for is proof of citizenship, that is what we are interested in,’’ he added.
Supt Dibba said this at a press conference held at the Immigration Department in Banjul, on Friday 14th February, during which he clarified issues relating to their mandate and operations as an institution.
He explained that when someone comes to acquire a national document, the individual will have to show documents attesting to his/her citizenship.
He continued, “We also want to know how you become a citizen and if you are able to prove this to us, then we will issue you with the ID Card.’’
“But if you have difficulty to prove your citizenship, we will not accord you the privileges of ID card or any other national document,’’ he added.
“I want to say that these are mere allegations, so far we have received a lot of complaints about this issue,” he asserted.
He further said that they did not sit in their offices and give a deaf ear to these accusations instead, “we set up investigations to find out from the various issuing centres to know whether these claims are true or not.”
He concluded that so far all the investigations have proven that these are mere allegations and are baseless.
When it comes to delay in issuing documents, Dibba said issuing documents that have to deal with people’s nationality is a sensitive matter.
“We are guided by principles, laws and procedures, so people must have a little bit of patience to allow us to exhaust the procedures,” he explained.
He argued that verifying certain documents will take time, and sometimes it may take more than a week before one gets his/her ID card.
He believes matters will speed up now that they have a footprint across the country
“I am very confident those are a thing of the past now and the long delay in issuance of documents is not the case now,” he said.
Olimatou Jammeh, Commissioner for Processing said initially ID cards production was manual which tends to be faster than that of the biometric or smart cards that they are using now.
She added: “Gambians need to understand that these are more sophisticated cards and need the required time to ensure that what we are giving them is of quality”.
She called for patience.