Saturday, December 3

Senior immigration officer testifies in diplomatic passport scandal case

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Mansa Sumareh, the first accused person was the chief driver at the State House and Ebrima J. Sanneh, the second accused person was a former protocol officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two are standing trial on charges of conspiracy and forgery.

Olimatou Jammeh said she only knows Ebrima J. Sanneh, adding on the 6th August 2019, her operations commander came to her office with a diplomatic passport that was on the verge of being issued on that day. She said the Operations commander informed her that the liaison officer for diplomatic and service passport made an observation that the cover letter for approval from the Office of the President does not bear the official stamp of the President’s Office and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that was an oversight.

The immigration officer testified that the instruction she was given was to withhold the issuance of the passport until the two official stamps are provided. She stated that she came to know that the applicant one Bakary K. Suso was accompanied by Ebrima J. Sanneh. She told the court that the register contains the names of protocol officers that accompany applicants of diplomatic passports.

She told the court that Sanneh came to collect the diplomatic passport at the delivery point and was asked to go to her office. 

“I now explained to him that due to the lack of the two authentication stamps from these two offices, we cannot deliver the passport,” she said.

She said Sanneh requested for the copy of the cover letter to go back to the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the official stamps for authorisation of the passport.

She said Sanneh brought back the document on the following day, but this time, it has both official stamps from the two offices.

“When he gave it to me, I was somehow sceptical because I wasn’t convinced about it. I advised him to go back,” she said.

On why she was sceptical, she said: “Because it was not common that both stamps from these two offices are missing in a cover letter.

She explained that she reasoned that it was necessary to consult at least one of the approving officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She said she was able to get Salimatou Touray, the permanent secretary of the Ministry inquiring about the signatures on the cover letter who told her that she does not know the signature of the person on the cover letter.

She testified that she came to know that the cover letter was signed by one Ndey Awa Cham of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She said the next day she prepared a report which she forwarded to her command to take step. The witness said she did not get any official communication from the Ministry regarding the matter.

The case is adjourned to 7th May 2021.