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03.05.2006 Editorial

What Is Akufo Addo Doing About Passport Scandal?

By Gye Nyame Concord

Last week, the Crusading Guide carried an award winning story on how the Passport Office in Accra issues legitimate Ghanaian passports in the name of the state and under the seal of the Government of Ghana for export to 'non-Ghanaian criminals', in foreign lands for their nefarious activities.

Almost a week after the Director of the Passport Office, Mr. Kwesi Quartey, made some funny complaints and hinted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would issue an official response to the number of queries raised by the worried public, we have heard nothing. We mean nothing.

Meanwhile, the trade in the legal passport for illegal activities continues and could cause the nation's image an irreparable damage if not checked.

And that is why we don't get it. That after such a major scandal that could see the Foreign Ministry and Government for that matter, muddied, there is yet to be an official response on this matter. For heaven's sake, we are dealing with proper, legitimate, non-forged Ghanaian passports issued by the State being exported to all sorts of criminals who end up muddying the image of the nation with their nefarious activities in countries like Libya, Italy, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Holland, Britain, Germany and others.

Just read the following statement from the Crusading Guide report and imagine why we are worried that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his office haven't spoken on what they are doing or intend to do to halt this serious problem on hand. “Without recourse to due procedures, they process the original passports which are signed by the Director of Passports in Ghana at a wholesale price of three hundred thousand cedis.

This is later retailed to the non-Ghanaian criminals for between $300 and $400 and 250 or 300 pounds internationally. The Ghanaian passport, which was revered and respected across the world has now been reduced to an ordinary booklet, stripped of its solemnity and dignity. The non-Ghanaian criminals end up using the passport to denigrate Ghana's national identity by posing as Ghanaians and engage in 419 fraudulent activities across the world”.

If that is not serious enough, read his: “So armed with cash, a glittering suit case, an eight month old braided hair and a hired Mercedes Benz car to match, all in al bid to smash the passport syndicate, this reporter headed for the passport office in Accra where he was confronted with numerous shocking and jaw dropping revelations. The officials of the passport office were ready to do any number of passports for this reporter for a fee of four hundred thousand cedis (¢400,000).

When the reporter got there, one of the officials who happened to be at the security post, within a twinkling of an eye took up the contract of doing five hundred copies of Ghanaian passports to be given to non-nationals in the United Kingdom where this journalist claimed he had just returned from.

At a plush Golden Tulip Hotel, the journalist finally sealed the contract for five hundred passports over wine and champagne with the passport office officials. As part of the deal, no birth certificate and passport forms were required. All that one needed to do was to provide names and pictures to match and bingo, you have your passports.

As a test case, this journalist went through The Crusading Guide's pictures of dead people and faked names for the passport office official. Within some few days, the passports were done. One for the President of Ghana, President John Agyekum Kufuor, another for the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, one for the Inspector General of Police and many more faked names.

Hard copy authentic passports were issued and duly signed by the Director of Passports.” That is not all. “Ghana 'book' sells like hot kenkey and fish. Sometimes within a month I register about 300 to 600 hundred customers in my office (location withheld for now) all of them wanting some of the Ghana 'book' passport.

The profit margin is good so I come home myself, if you multiply 400 dollars by 350 you see that the profit is good. In Ghana I pay 300,000 for bulk price and ¢500,000 for express price through my friends working in the passport office. Sometimes, when I want the 'book' in 2 hours for a first class customer, they take extra cash and claim they are going to give it to the Director of Passport to sign it fast. I do not see them giving it to the Director, but they always bring it within the stipulated hours...”

This is why Gye Nyame Concord thinks Ghanaians need assurances of what the Ministry is doing or intends to do. This is why we are disappointed that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the foreign Minister, hasn't spoken. He must tell us what he is doing about this whole saga.

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