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Sierra Leone: Netpage contract condemned

19 November 2018 at 16:46 | 1417 views

16/11/18

Press Release

21 days Ultimatum for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take steps and nullify the fraudulent NETPAGE passport deal

We in the Native Consortium and Research Centre (NCRC),have closely listened to the debates by MPs from the present and last Parliaments and are of the conviction that the majority of Sierra Leoneans view the current Passport deal as the worst thing that has happened to this country.

We roundly condemn this unpardonable cheating by NETPAGE and the few politicians who are benefitting from the loot.

We believe that members of Parliament should not only be the people"s representatives but also the conscience of the people.For them to conspire with foreign nationals who are no less than corporate gangsters to dupe and deprive Sierra Leoneans of this all important national asset is unforgiveable.

We are also concerned that the bitter cold war between the former Internal Affairs Minister (late) and his deputy over the award of the passport deal, the ramifications of which are now manifesting, is coming back to haunt this nation.

We witnessed with dismay how the last Parliament endorsed the $100 US unholy passport contract and are even more disturbed today to see the same members of Parliament wanting to put up a defence for it. We want to let it be known that the people are no longer fools and we demand that these MPs apologise to the people of this country and stop insulting our intelligence.

We want to thank Hon Hindolo Ngavao for his drive to seek the interest of the public good and believing that fighting for the poor and economic justice should be central to representation in Parliament and to other patriotic Sierra Leoneans who have taken the bold step to put a stop to this destructive deal.

This is the only Country on the planet where politicians have said that carrying a Passport is a Privilege and not a right. Information available to us shows that the price of passport stayed at Le 100,000 for a very long time, not until when corrupt officials ganged up to cheat poor people by hiking the pricefrom Le 100,000 to Le 500,000. That was when it became a Privilege.

We believe that the reasons that were given about fake security features when the old and new passports had no difference, were very fake and a wicked ploy by corrupt politicians to enrich themselves.

We in the Native Consortium would have taken the then government to the ECOWAS court but our action was stalled due to the pending general elections.

In view of the above, we are giving the current Ministry of Internal Affairs a 21-day ultimatum to table a bill for the total annulment of the NETPAGE passport deal.

We want the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Parliament, and NETPAGE to know that we would not sit idly by and allow those greedy politicians that are calling for NETPAGE to ratify the price downward and back NETPAGE on their unspeakable cheating. We demand that they should refund those monies back to the poor people of this country. We also want to make it unequivocally clear to the President Bio lead Government that the new proposed price should not exceed Four hundred and Fifty thousand Leones (Le 450,000) and should not be pegged on forex.

It would be recalled that immediately after the award of the Passport contract to NETPAGE, the US Government issued a press release telling the former President Koroma lead Government that six Lebanese who are linked to the Hezbollah were carrying our Passports. The former Government did nothing and consequently our Country was blacklisted for harbouring terrorists. As a result access to US Visas became very difficult for most Sierra Leoneans who needed to travel to the US during that period and even those who had once travelled to the US.

We believe that Sierra Leoneans went through all this embarrassment because of the selfishness and greed of a few politicians in the former regime.

Therefore, we are calling on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to work in collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the following:

a) to cross examine the procurement and bidding that led to the award of the contract to NETPAGE.

b) to assess the security risks around the NETPAGE arrangement.

c) to speedily table a bill in parliament to nullify the NETPAGE contract.

d) To ensure that the new Passport should have the features of International standards.

The Ministry should give the public a comprehensive roadmap within 21 days.

The Native Consortium will be open for further dialogue on this issue and would help move the process forward.

Edmond Abu (Jr)
076617240/ 099-921815
Executive Director

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