By Omar Bah
The Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou has officially reacted to criticisms over his decision to request diplomatic passports for five members of his family.
Speaking at a news conference called to unveil the Janneh Commission report on Friday, Tambadou said he has never been so hurt over any issue as this one because it is about his mother.
“Let me clarify that it was just this June, a few months ago actually that I enquired from the ministry of foreign affairs about those who may be entitled to diplomatic passports. In fact there are a lot of misconceptions about diplomatic passports.
Contrary to many claims they are not only meant for diplomats.
In addition to specific categories of persons, the President has the discretion to give it to any person,” Tambadou explained.
He continued: “Clearly, I was given information that cabinet ministers and their dependents; their wives, kids could be given diplomatic passport in addition to the President’s decision.
Based on this advice, I wrote to the President to grant diplomatic passport to these closest members of my family.
I did not ask it for my spouse and children.
I asked it for my mother and sisters who were just ‘add-ons’.
I request for a privilege that is totally lawful and legitimate from my principal who has the power and the discretion to grant that request to facilitate travel for my mother for a specific purpose,” he explained.
He said he went to great lengths to explain in the request letter why he wanted it for his mother and those who will provide assistance to her.
“What is the point of my mother carrying a diplomatic passport in Saudi when she is moving in a wheelchair and there is no-one to move with her? So because of those reasons, I submitted the request based on the advice that I received, and correct advice as well, the President approved it.
I have nothing to hide.
I didn’t even label the letter confidential.
I wrote it down on a piece of paper,” he added.
Minister Tambadou said it is unfortunate that, “in perhaps desperation to look for something on me, people are using this opportunity to say all sorts of things against and about me. But it’s public office. I know is going to end someday soon,” he said.