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Monday, August 2, 2021

Immigration must stop ‘volunteer’ ID card bank rollers

Reports of individuals or groups of people volunteering to pay fees for people applying for ID cards must be investigated by the authorities and the practice itself outlawed.

More of often than not, people who engage in this are politicians or people connected to politics and given their nature, most politicians would stop at nothing when it comes to getting them numbers at elections.

It is almost certainly clear that this questionable philanthropic deed of paying for crowds of people to acquire ID cards is not without a motive. One hardly hears of philanthropic group or persons spontaneously turning up at hospitals to pay consultation fees for patients.

Since under the current electoral laws an ID card is a sure way to get a voter’s card, it is a duty on our government and law enforcement agencies and indeed all citizens to ensure that unscrupulous politicians from any side are not allowed to bastardise our national documents by passing them to non-Gambians. This is unacceptable and must be resisted by all Gambians.

The business of acquiring an ID card must be initiated by the citizen himself or herself. The Immigration department must take as a suspect anyone or group who mobilises or tries to register crowds with the purpose of paying fees for them to acquire ID cards.

Under the constitution, the Immigration department or officer has the powers to scrutinise, approve or reject anyone reasonably believed to be not eligible for the Gambian ID Card, no matter who referred the person to them. They must act professionally under these powers in the interest of the nation.

The implications of placing our national documents in the hands of foreigners are grave and eternally regretful. It could lead to false statistics of the state of our population and even exploitation of our national documents for fraudulent purposes. Foreigners could vote to influence the outcome of our elections leading to the election of unpopular and incompetent leaders that can slow, destroy or even stop our progress.

While we commend citizens who showed commitment to fight this menace, we call on the Gambia government and the state institutions directly responsible to be active and serious in preventing non Gambians from acquiring our national ID card.

During the first Republic, honest and dedicated politicians and private citizens mainly from the opposition had spotted and tabulated volumes of cases where people suspected to be foreigners had falsely acquired Gambian voter’s cards and other documents largely through the influence of politicians. Similar stories, if not worse, emerged in the second Republic too. So how long are we going to stand by as greedy politicians turn our national documents to toilet papers just to achieve their selfish ambition to stay or get into power?

We hope we make sense here.

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