After months of investigations into the diplomatic passport scandal that hit the country last year, 14 individuals have now been charged with various offences, judicial sources informed The Standard.
The scandal plagued the Barrow government in November 2019 when at least 20 individuals were arrested for their alleged involvement in the issuance of Gambia’s diplomatic passport for financial gains.
The arrested individuals included officials from Immigration, Police, foreign ministry and others.
The scandal attracted international attention, with the foreign ministry briefing members of the Diplomatic and Consular corp in September on the investigations.
However, it looks like the matter is now heading to the courts as the Ministry of Justice has already filed the charges, waiting for a judge to be selected for the case before a hearing.
According to reliable judicial sources, the following persons are charged:
- Mansa Sumareh (former presidential driver)
- Lang Tombong Sabally (senior immigration officer)
- Banka Jatta (senior immigration officer)
- Babucarr MS Jobarteh (former chief protocol at foreign ministry)
- Amadou Touray
- Saikou Sanneh (protocol officers, foreign ministry)
- Babucarr Bah (a police chief inspector)
- Dodou Camara
- Yankuba Susso
- Ebrima J Sanneh (protocol officer, foreign ministry)
- Ousman Touray (protocol officer, foreign ministry)
- Micheal Lapido (a Nigerian national)
- Ismaila Kanteh – Businessman
- Ousman Drammeh.
The individuals are charged with various offences ranging from obtaining money by false pretences, forgery: making false documents; uttering false documents; theft; receiving stolen goods; to making documents without authority.
The Solicitor General, Cherno Marenah, confirmed to The Standard that the opinion has already been done and that the case will go to court.
Last year the Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh told the media that the investigation panel had also contacted Interpol to write to their counterparts and to revoke the diplomatic passports issued to some investors, who acquired the diplomatic passports.
Sankareh stated that President Adama Barrow had promised that there will be “no sacred cows; no one will be spared in these investigations regardless of one’s position”.
If found guilty, the accused persons are facing up to maximum seven years imprisonment.
When the world woke up to the news that hundreds of Gambian diplomatic passports have been issued to highest bidders nearly a year ago, there was public outrage both within and outside the country.
The public outcry led to a leakage of the Gambian diplomatic passport roll, from February 2017 to late 2019.
The 19-page roll revealed that the Gambia government issued a staggering 1,175 diplomatic passports in just under three years, an industrial scale of diplomatic passport issuance.
In 2017, government issued 582 diplomatic passports; 449 in 2018; and 174 in 2019. The diplomatic passport holders range from marabouts, musicians, security and government officials, preachers, lawyers to students.
The Standard understands that 20 individuals were initially recommended for prosecution.