Banjul ( K.N.N ) : As the investigation into the diplomatic passport scandal deepens, the latest revelations have led to the arrest of 20 suspects, with 289 diplomatic passport readers still missing.
Government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh made the remarks as he gave an update on the latest police investigation in an interview with the West Coast (RADIO) morning breakfast program.
He confirmed that 20 people had been arrested in connection with the diplomatic passport scandal.
However, Sankareh quickly added that all the suspects arrested had been granted bail and were cooperating with the investigation.
He explained that some of the detainees work in the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Brikama region and the Department of Immigration in the Gambia, businessmen and others. However, he hinted that this figure could increase.
He added that the commission investigating the matter has also provided some very important figures about the complete passport scandal. The investigation also reveals that between 2003 and 2014, a total of 15,996 diplomatic passports were provided by the printing company De La Rue to the Gambia government.
According to him, out of 15,996 diplomatic passports, 12.96 diplomatic passports were deposited in the Gambian Central Bank.
It was discovered during the investigation that 400 passports were issued before the stockpile was handed over to the Gambian Central Bank.
The Central Bank also issued 2000 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the same period, leaving the remaining balance of 10,496 in the vault of the Central Bank.
A government spokesman said 3,100 passports had been received by the Gambia Immigration Service from De La Rue and handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but not to the Central Bank.
Records from the Immigration Department proved that 138 Passports were issued from the stock, adding that 2,650 passports were discovered at the State Department and 23 others recovered from the suspects.
Accordingly, the Commission discovered that 289 machine-readable diplomatic passports remain unknown.
The commission of inquiry has also contacted Interpol to write counterparts and to cancel diplomatic passports issued to some investors who received diplomatic passports.
In 2008, there were some German investors, who managed to maneuver and were issued diplomatic passports and paid 10,000 euros.
He added that this figure is the highest figures revealed by the Commission of Inquiry in which people obtained passports.
The investigation is ongoing and witnesses are cooperating with the police in the case.
By Kabiru Sagnia Chief Editor of Kabiru News Network ( K.N.N ).