M.P. queries Govt. over state of passport investigation

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai.

Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, is worried.

He is concerned that so far there has been no solid information as to what action the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) has taken since evidence was provided that someone is “selling Samoan passports” online.

 “The government should prioritize this investigation and act quickly; Samoa is being used as a gateway for people overseas to get to other countries such as Europe,” Olo told the Samoa Observer.

Samoa passport holders do not need a visa to enter Europe. 

“Obtaining a passport in any country is scrutinized under strict and stringent requirements, but it appears obtaining a Samoan passport is like purchasing a paper from the supermarket.” 

The process of obtaining a Samoan passport should be highly secured. 

“This should be a warning to the government that they need to amend the requirements; they need to do what they have to do to eliminate this unlawful act,” said Olo Fiti. 

He reminded that this is not new. 

“It happened before, back in the 1980’s and yet it has returned and so it’s a clear indication that nothing has been done about it, otherwise history will not repeat itself. 

“I am appalled to say the least about how long it’s taken for the government to criminally charge those responsible,” said Olo.

“Also the entire country wants to know what the outcome is if there is one yet. 

“As a Citizen of Samoa and Member of Parliament, I want to know how this happened right under the noses of the immigration officials. 

“And it makes me wonder as to how many passports has been procured illegally,” said the furious Olo Fiti. 

“We shouldn’t think about only Samoa’s safety as overseas people are using Samoa’s passport as a gateway to other big countries like Europe,” said Olo Fiti. 

In September 2017, the government through the Immigration Office launched an investigation into allegations that someone is “selling Samoan passports” online.  

Chief Executive for M.P.M.C. Agafili Shem Leo.
Chief Executive for M.P.M.C. Agafili Shem Leo.

 “As required under the Passport Act and the Public Service Act, the Immigration division of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has begun an investigation in to allegations of a potential breach of the Passport Act,” according to the statement from the press secretary. 

This is in relation to reports received by the Ministry that passports have been illegally procured.

The statement did not say how long the investigation will take and what exactly they are after.  

In October, the Attorney General Lemalu Herman P. Retzlaff, issued a ‘prohibition order’ for Immigration Employee Mr. Nomereta Uaine and a member of the public, Fitu Goshe. 

A week later the Immigration Office suspended an immigration employee while they investigate the alleged sale of Samoan passports online. 

Mr. Uaine declined to discuss the allegations against him.

Samoa Observer emailed Agafili seeking a status on the investigation of the matter however as of Press Time, there has been no response. 

The allegation is contained in an email from one “Joanna Slewion”, which the Samoa Observer has referred to the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Ministry responsible for Immigration.

According to the email, the person claims that someone is “selling Samoa passport out to African (sic)”.

The email said: “He even fooled me to send my 1000 U.S. dollars to him that he was going to give me the passport to go to Europe.” 

The money was sent however there has been no contact from the alleged passport procurer. The email to the Samoa Observer indicates that this has been ongoing. 

 “He has been processing Samoa Apia passports for others and they have used it to travel to Europe,” the email claims.

The informant said he has reported the matter to the Immigration Office in Samoa. 

“I asked him for my money back and he refuses to do so I contacted the Immigration. I got only few replies until now. I have not gotten my money from him.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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