10, 000 Illegal Passport Holders In Trouble -Return Them Now Or…

 

The new Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), Andrew Kaikai on Wednesday 24th October, 2018 issued a public notice demanding that all diplomatic and service passports be immediately returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

According to the public notice, “All former Ministers, government employees and their respective families who were issued Diplomatic or Service passports by virtue of their status in government but are no longer in active government service must surrender their Diplomatic or Service passports to the Consular Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with immediate effect.”

A senior Immigration official said the immediate effect clause means that the holders have a maximum of at most within two weeks to return the documents, failing which, he said, the names of delinquent holders would be published.

The official told this press that whilst the number of Sierra Leone diplomatic and service passports that were officially issued to applicants within the last ten years – including legitimate government workers and ordinary people who do not work for government – could ostensibly mount to over 10, 000.

The Immigration Department official recalled that since the days when former Chief Immigration Officer, Solomon Musa was arrested and tried by officials in Hong Kong in the late 1990s for alleged sale of Sierra Leone diplomatic passports in that country, and was found guilty and jailed for seven years, there has been a lucrative under-the-counter sale of such passports to thousands of Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, as well as foreigners. The price for each document, he said, ranged from US$2,000 to as much as US$10,000.

The official averred that in a situation where in the country’s diplomatic and service passports have gone into the wrong hands, they would have serious headache retrieving all of them, citing such passports being in the hands of Sierra Leoneans living abroad – like in the case of the arrest at the United States Embassy in Freetown quite recently by the ACC, when former Chairman of Independent Media Commission (IMC), Ambassador Alieu Kanu was trying to facilitate the travelling of about nine suspects to the US using Sierra Leone Service passports to obtain visas.

The official disclosed that thousands of Sierra Leone’s diplomatic and service passports are in the hands of non-government officials living in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America.