Reacting to questions from a cross section of journalists, whether Sierra Leone passport is being sold to foreigners, the Controller of Operations at the Immigration Department, Ansumana A Marah said; “We don’t sell passports”.
Defending his institutions in a press conference yesterday, Marah stated that, it is a common phenomenon for secret gangs to manufacture and sell out fake passports to people.
He added: “I cannot say we are perfect because everywhere in the world people use fake passports to travel”
“But under this new management we have put measures that is hard to beat and that the increase on the price of lost passports from Le 50,000 to Le 500,000 was to frighten criminals who may want to apply for passport”.
That increase he said came from State House in a security meeting that the price for lost passports should be increased so that our passport will not fall in the wrong hands. Also questioned about foreigners using Sierra Leone passport, the Controller stated that effective 1st May any foreign national purporting to travel with a Sierra Leonean passport must present a certificate of verification on demand from the Immigration authority at any of our border crossing points.
Asked to comment on Pakistanis and Sierra Rutile workers holding Sierra Leonean passport he exclaimed “this is news to me even if they have acquired Sierra Leone passport it might have been done through dubious means. All what I know is that people get passport either by citizenship by birth or by naturalization adding that he is not aware of any other means that people can acquire passports from his department. “One thing I want to make clear is that there is no system in place in the world that is 100% secured. Even in the developed world they too suffer from these abnormalities.”
Explaining about the Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) given out, he said that ETC is given to people to fast track their journey to their original place.