Saturday, May 19, 2012

Somalia: Govt Wants Held Passports, ID Cards Handed to Embassy

The Star (Nairobi)
Somalia: Govt Wants Held Passports, ID Cards Handed to Embassy
By Maureen Mudi, 18 May 2012Comment

THE Somali government now wants a consignment of Somali passports, identity cards and machines impounded at the port last year to be handed over to its embassy.

Speaking on the sidelines of a case involving a businessman charged in relation to the container, Somali ambassador Mohammed Ali Nur said detaining the consignment is illegal. "He brought something illegal without the knowledge of both governments and we insist that he should be prosecuted and all the contents of the container handed over to the embassy," said the ambassador.

When the container was impounded last November, police arrested and charged Sanjivan Sunilkumar Mukherjee for importing the restricted goods into the country, while the Somali government distanced itself from the consignment. The case was to commence for hearing yesterday but postponed to October 12. The official added that the businessman has allegedly asked that there be a memorandum of understanding between the Somali and Kenya governments over the issue, but he (Nur), maintained that the law has to take its cause and the suspect prosecuted.

The documents were impounded alongside passport printing machines in a container imported from the United Arab Emirates and destined for Nairobi, according to the police. The then port Division Criminal Investigations officer Kiberege Seroney had said the shipment could have links with the as Shabaab.

Nur said the government had terminated Mukherjee's company's passport-making contract in June 2010, adding that Just Solution had been contracted by the Somali government to produce passports for the last six years before its termination. "The contract was terminated because the company refused to hand over the passport printing machine to the government. It is illegal for any individual or company other than the government to be in possession of such machines," said Nur. He also claimed that the Somali government is suspicious that the consignment might be having something to do with the Al-Shabaab.

The consignment included 248 Somali diplomatic passports, 250 Somali passport travel documents, 250 Somali service passports, 300 Somali government ID cards, 246 ordinary Somali passports and 14,000 blank Somali ID cards. Mukherjee, through his lawyers Mohamed Nyaoge and Emmanuel Washe, told the court in Mombasa that the IDs were being returned to the Somali embassy in Nairobi following the termination of the contract. Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli said investigations are still ongoing.

Detectives had to be sent to the United Arab Emirates to establish the ownership of the documents. Somali's Head of Immigration department Abdullahi Gafow, who flew in from Mogadishu, had told Adoli that they will be heading to Dubai in the UAE to gather more documents that will assist the Kenya police in breaking the syndicate. The court heard that Mukherhjee, on November 9 forced clearing agent Anderson Ng'ang'a Mburu of Sealine Freight Services, to make an incorrect customs declaration. Magistrate James Omburah released Mukherjee on a Sh500,000 bond or Sh100,000 cash bail.
Sealine Freight Services

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