By Momodou Jarju
The office of the Government’s spokesperson has disclosed the arrests of several people in Germany and the Gambia in the on-going Diplomatic Passport Saga.
According to a Press Release Issued by the Government Spokesperson Ebrima G. Sankareh, The Gambia Government working with their international partners, effected arrests in these two countries regarding the Diplomatic Passport Saga.
Sankareh said those arrested in Germany are currently providing information on the issue; that those arrested in the Gambia are already providing vital information into this vast and sophisticated criminal network which risks damaging the good reputation of our peaceful and law-abiding country.
“Ever since news of the Diplomatic Passport fraud emerged, Government quickly established a Task Force comprising officials of the Gambia Police Force, Immigration Department and the State Intelligence Services (SIS),” Sankareh said; that this is to adequately probe into the matter and prosecute all those found complicit in the sale, procurement, manufacture and illegal acquisition of the Gambia’s Diplomatic Passport. He said the Task Force will also conduct a complete inventory of all Diplomatic Passports issued since 2016, with verifications of all their holders’ profiles.
“Thus far, over a dozen citizens and non-citizens have been apprehended and as investigations widen, numerous more suspects may either be arrested or be called in for questioning to help the Task Force shatter this criminal cabal and restore sanity in the entire process,” Sankareh affirmed.
He urged members of the public to cooperate with investigators by providing relevant information on the matter.
“Under Gambian law, the issuing of Diplomatic Passports rests exclusively with the Presidency and those that acquired their passports legitimately by using the established procedural channels, are not the subject of this criminal inquiry,” the Government Spokesperson further disclosed. He said the probe targets those who knowingly acted illegally by falsifying documents and by aiding and abetting in the sale, procurement and acquisition of this precious national document for all the wrong reasons.
“President Adama Barrow as the singular approving authority of Diplomatic Passports, has instructed a full, swift and comprehensive investigation to break the neck of this criminal cabal bent on tarnishing the good image of The Gambia. Therefore, conscious of the gravity of the situation and its potential ramifications vis-a-vis the Gambia’s international obligations under the UN Security Council Resolutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), will soon convene a meeting with members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, to immediately address this and similar pressing issues,” he concludes.
Following the on-going diplomatic passport saga, Gambians have disclosed their anger in various platforms most especially on social media, pointing out the illegal issuance of Diplomatic Passport to both Gambians and foreign nationals. This many believe will tarnish the image of the country and can even undermine its sovereignty.