The new Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) Alpha Kholifa Koroma has said in Freetown that he is not going to change from a strict immigration officer to become a naïve one.
Mr Koroma who was speaking to Awoko immediately after he was approved by parliament as Chief Immigration Officer said that he was going to put in place control and measures at the immigration department so that Sierra Leonean passports do not fall into the wrong hands.
He stated that with what he has gained as a former police officer in terms of intelligence, investigation of corrupt practices and forgery, immigration was not going to be anything strange to him.
Mr Kholifa Kamara said the morale at the immigration department was low in the area of administrative management and its functionalization. “I will first try as a priority to boost the morale of the personnel and try to educate them along the lines that they are expected to perform as immigration officers in the discharge of their duties”.
The new CIO explained that apart from boosting the morale of the staff, he will try to relocate the office of the immigration department to an ideal and respected environment.
He highlighted that he was not only going to look at immigration from the passport perspective “immigration is not all about passport what it entails is about you looking at how foreign nationals enter the country and the attitudes of the immigration personnel towards these aliens and it is therefore in particular for these foreign nationals that their cases have to be looked into critically and we try as best as possible to raise revenue for the government” he explained.
He said for foreign nationals entering the country to trade or work, the formalities and protocols have to be followed and if it turns out that foreign nationals are operating illegally in the country, they will be deported.
As to who should carry a Sierra Leonean passport he answered “that is a legalistic question and addressing that, if you are born in Sierra Leone you are entitled to a passport especially if your parents are of Sierra Leonean origin as well. I will have to look for all of these technicalities and conduct a study and contrast it so that whoever gets a Sierra Leonean passport will be someone who deserves it.”
The new Chief Immigration Officer started his career in the Sierra Leone Police force in 1998 after he graduated from the university. He rose through the ranks to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Police. He once served at the immigration department from 1992 to 1994. Mr Koroma holds an M.Sc. Degree in security and risk management in 2004 and he also holds an LLB and LLM in international and comparative Business Law which he obtained in 2006-2007.