Passport office extortion: Director, management must answer questions – Ablakwa

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says management of the various passport offices including its directors must answer questions relating to the allegations of bribery, extortion and corruption within the agency.

This according to Mr. Ablakwa is because they have failed to live up to the leadership requirements needed to manage the institution.

Speaking on JoyNews, Mr. Ablakwa said with a Director appointed to supervise the operations of the passport agencies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs did not have to storm the facility to get the job done.

“There is a Director at the Passport Office, a whole Director, so it didn’t have to take the Minister to descend from her Ministry and to engage in that open outburst for the Minister to be dismissing people on site and all of that.

“It tells you that there is something fundamentally wrong and the leadership at the Passport Office fall short of the leadership requirement you will expect to see for such a sensitive position.

“The Director of the Passport Office and all those in management must be answering questions,” he said.

His comment comes on the back of the dismissal of some staff at the Passport Office in Accra by Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

During a tour of the facility on Monday, the Minister lashed out at the staff for allegedly engaging in corruption-related activities that have tarnished the office’s reputation

Madam Botchwey expressed worry over the existence of extortion and disregard for proper conduct, especially considering the crucial role the Passport Office plays in facilitating international travel.

She subsequently directed overstaying security officials who were at post at the Passport Office to refrain from reporting for duty beginning Monday, August 21, 2023.

“I told my officers to put up an online system. Now, the online system is being manipulated so that people can make money off it”, she complained.

“There are investigations going on, and some names have been mentioned. There’s a cartel of people who are working with people from inside.

“Anybody who has been here for more than one year, from Monday on, please do not come back because you have been changed”, she ordered.

The Minister added that: “We want to bring some sanity. Every time, we say, ‘Politicians are corrupt’, meanwhile, it is some public and civil servants who will do things that shouldn’t be done, and then they will be blaming it on politicians. We are trying to bring sanity into the system.”

But reacting to this, Mr. Ablakwa who is also the MP for North Tongu said an investigation must be conducted before the directive by the Minister is implemented.

He believes this will prevent innocent workers from becoming casualties.

“If care is not taken, innocent people could be caught in the frame so I will still urge that it will be necessary for a disciplinary committee to still carry out some independent investigation into the role of those the Minister met.

“Are we sure that all of them are involved in all of these underhand dealings, briberies, corruption and all the untoward conduct that the Minister is angry about?” he questioned.

Source: Felicia Osei

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