Immigration! Should ACC boss hear this?
As of September 21st 2012 the Sierra Leone Embassy in Senegal has seized and confiscated a total of over 15 Sierra Leone government documents, including among others, passports, birth certificates, residential permits fraudulently obtained while disguised as Sierra Leoneans, Sierra Leone identity cards, Sierra Leone Seaman’s Identity Book and other related documents from Sierra Leoneans and other foreign nationals, especially Nigerians. (Photo: The Nigerian with two names and dates of birth …)
The Embassy staff observed that these government documents were either being forged, tampered with, expired, fraudulently obtained or in the hands of the wrong persons, contrary to law.
Among a wide range of information and investigation leads, the Mission is trailing a suspected syndicate link between a certain staff at Immigration Headquarters in Freetown and one particular Sierra Leonean business woman ( whose name the Mission is still trying to verify) in Senegal. The Mission is further informed that our passports are in the hands of most Nigerians and Guineans living and doing business in neighboring Cape Verde.
The most recent is a gentleman who from the interview is observed to be a Nigerian going by the name of Sikiru Cole is in possession of
- a Sierra Leonean passport No: E0072646, issued in Freetown on April 17th 2012.
- a Sierra Leone Delayed Birth certificate/2009 No: WLLF 32028. His birth certificate has Seray Cole, a Sierra Leonean as his mother and John Cole also a Sierra Leonean as his father. When he was earlier interviewed by Embassy staff upon his request for an Embassy Consular card, he gave his mother’s name as Sarah Cole from Aberdeen and his Father’s as John Cole a Nigerian.
When searched, the following were found in his possession.
- A Nigerian Consular card No: 356/2010, issued by the Nigerian Embassy in Senegal, with the name Adekunle. Dickson Awosika. Date of birth 14.02.1972. Place of birth Lagos.
- Three Gambian residential permits (2006, 2007 and 2008) with the name Sikiru Cole as a Sierra Leonean. Date of birth February 28th 1968.
When asked about his profession, he replied “I am a business man selling clothes and footwear and also involved in taking footballers to Europe and Asia to be sold out to football clubs.”
Another seized passport No: E0083448, was given to a passenger at Lungi Airport, while boarding a flight for Senegal for one Nigerian by the name of Christian Johnson, issued in Freetown on July 02nd 2012. Date of birth- August 23rd 1979. Fortunately or unfortunately the passport fell into the hands of Mission Staff.
Another issue is that of a Seaman’s Identity Book, issued on 14th .01.2008 in Freetown, belonging to one Hassan Mansaray a Sierra Leonean of 35, Off Freetown Road Goderich. The said book has a photo that was not signed nor stamped across it and there was no holder’s signature or thumb prints.
A suspected Guinean sahr Koroma, living in Senegal who claims to be a Kono but could not converse in Kono with a Mission staff, National identity card No: SL 00061802 issued 07.04 2010 was seized and he himself handed over to the police.
Several others seized are being internally investigated with the help of the Sierra Leone Union in Senegal. Officials of the Union have themselves forwarded a number of complaints to the Embassy that our passports are mostly in the hands of Nigerians, who boast of their connections and available cash to secure them.
As if all this is not enough, a leading Newspaper LOBS in Senegal last Friday published that the Research Section of the National Gendarmerie fighting against economic and financial crimes, nabbed one Nigerian Augustine Martin, an ace scam master on the internet, posing as a wealthy heir orphan person.
The Senegalese Gendarmerie with the help of a local Bank dismantled a criminal network headed by this Augustine Martin. A total of nine Nigerians were arrested at Guediawaye just outside Dakar where they have established their headquarters. Several Satellite phones, computers, credit cards and phone chips were seized.
According to the police several other branches may exist. The Information Attaché is working closely with the Gendarmerie to see whether they seized any Sierra Leonean documents in the process.
Speaking to the Chief Immigration Officer Alpha Kolifa Koroma on the line from Senegal, he confirmed that he had received a number of complaints on the raised issues. “Please do me a favor and forward without delay all seized passports and other relevant documents. I promise a clean investigation will be mounted and those found culpable will be kicked out and prosecuted” he said.
Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir described it as ‘unacceptable’. “How can government documents be in the possession of foreigners?” she queried. The Embassy has of now put certain detective mechanisms in place to help identify documents of government and other state Institutions and combat the trend.
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