Foreign Affairs Minister Contradicts Okudzeto: Statement On Diplomatic Passports Revoked Is Inaccurate


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni has contradicted reports by a deputy Minister of Information, Okudzeto Ablakwa that the government has withdrawn 375 Diplomatic passports based on perceived misuse of its privileges. He said even though some Diplomatic passports were withdrawn when the President Mills assumed office, the exact number is not known.
The Deputy Minister for information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa earlier stated that about 375 diplomatic passports being held by some religious leaders have been withdrawn.
Mr. Ablakwa told an Accra based radio station, Joy FM that when the NDC government came into office in January 2009, it realized that all manner of persons in the name of religious leadership, were holding diplomatic passports that granted them access to the VVIP lounge and also insulated them from security checks.
But speaking in an interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show, Alhaji Mumuni said all his checks on the withdrawal of Diplomatic passports showed a somewhat different picture from what was painted by the Deputy Minister. According to him, government sent a routine request to diplomatic passport holders to surrender them to which they willingly obliged.
He, however, denied that the passports were withdrawn because they were being abused.
“This story poses for me quite a problem because I have been compelled to do some cross checking and all of my checks did not reveal that there is any truth in this statement. The only thing we can say is that when this administration took over in early 2009, we routinely sent out a request to all holders of diplomatic passports to surrender them. That was to enable us have a clean slate to proceed, beyond that, there has not been any recall of even a single passport for the reason that has been stated so I have difficulty in reacting to this story,” he said.
He continued; “we issued instructions that all person holding diplomatic passports should surrender them and they were surrendered. I cannot tell off the cuff the number of passports that were surrendered, but practically, all the diplomatic passports that were in used at the time were surrendered. I can say for certain that all the ministers, their spouses and families who were using the diplomatic passports brought them in accordance with our instructions; chiefs, religious leaders and others also surrendered theirs,” he added.
He was categorical that the diplomatic passports were withdrawn mainly because the administration had changed and the people who were using them were no longer entitled to it.
“We did that mainly because the law that regulates the issue of diplomatic passport which is the Passport and Travel Documents Decree NLCD 155 has stipulated the kind of categories of people who are entitled to the use of a diplomatic passport. And certainly with the change in administration, those particular persons’ (situations) have changed and therefore they were people who were holding diplomatic passports that they were not entitled to hold any longer because of the change in administration,” he emphasized .
He added that the withdrawal of the diplomatic passports also gave them the opportunity to sanitize the process and protect the integrity of the privileges.