‘Passportgate’ disgraces Malawi:  Brazil arrest drug traffickers with Malawian booklets

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    The issue of “missing” 250 blank passport booklets is disgracing Malawi in the international world with reports that Brazil has been holding drug traffickers holding the Malawian passports.

    Chiumia: I didn’t want to give half-baked information

    However, the Malawi Embassy in Brazil indicate that the drug dealers who were part of a massive international narcotic syndicate, were not Malawian citizens but using the passport obtained in fraudulent way.

    “Criminals are giving Malawi a bad name because of getting false documents and committing crimes ,” said an officer at Malawi Embassy in Brazil.

    The Embassy confirmed that a woman called Priscilla Chilombo, with Malawian passport. was arrested in Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in February for alleged drug trafficking and the court hearing will take place on july 20 2017.

    The issue of missing passport books came to light in Parliament on May 18 this year when Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire (People’s Party-PP) raised it.

    He told the National Assembly that a Nigerian national, who posed as a Malawian answering to the name Vincent Banda from Mangoch, was arrested after being found using one of the missing passports numbered MW 853507 on his way to London in the United Kingdom (UK).

    The legislator presented copies of Banda’s travel document.

    According to Mkandawire, on December 29 2016 the Department of Immigration received a consignment of passport books from Techno Brain Printers, the supplier of the books, whose quantity was short with one box containing 250 blank passports.

    Mkandawire claimed that Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi went ahead to sign for the less quantity after his stores officer had reportedly refused to do so. The serial numbers of the missing passports were from MW 853501 to 853750.

    Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia confirmed knowledge of the issue and the syndicate and told Parliament that the matter was already being investigated.

    She said upon the discovery that the 250 passports were missing, government alerted all countries in the world and shared serial numbers for the missing passport booklets.

    Chiumia also said all the missing passports had since been declared null and void.

    But before parliament adjourned, Member of Palriament (MP) for Mzimba North Agness Nyalonje (People’s Party –PP) wondered why there was no ministerial statement before the House rose.

    Nyalonje said it was disturbing th hear reports that a Nigerian linked to the missing of the passports has been released in South Africa to concel information because some government officials were involved in the passportgate.

    “We are very concerned, We demand transparency and accountability in how government is hadling investigations into this matter,” said Nyalonje.

    But Chiumia said her ministry was still gathering information on the missing passports.

    “We have got some information, but there is more information which we are getting, and therefore I didn’t want to give half-baked information, here. But the information will be given. If it is going to be published in the newspaper you will get the information. But otherwise, there is a lot which is coming up and we have got all the information and you will be surprised by the time we bring the information to the House,” she said.

    Some MPs also proposed that the parliamentary committees on Defence and Security and that of Government Assurances, which is also chaired by Mkandawire, should investigate the matter.

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