The Member of Parliament for the Gomoa West Constituency, Alexander Abban has downplayed calls for a thorough review of the issuance of Diplomatic Passports, following the allegations of visa fraud against some MPs.
In a Citi News interview, Mr. Abban argued that Diplomatic Passports remained essential to MPs’ work and said he did not think the allegations “should be a reason why we have to have a second look at the issuance of Diplomatic Passports to MPs.”
“I believe that the Diplomatic Passports given to the MPs is just to give them some facility so if he has to travel to do official work, he doesn’t go through the hustle and bustle getting and visa and all those things,” Mr. Abban explained.
“Their [MP’s] position is such that they may be called to duty at any time so if they have the diplomatic passport, it is not a big deal. What has to be done is the self-restraint the MPs must exercise in the use of the Diplomatic Passport.”
The MP, however, noted that the allegations were a dent on the image of Parliament saying, “it is a low point, it’s embarrassing and I feel bad about the publication.”
The allegations were revealed in the contents of a letter written by the UK High Commissioner to the Speaker of Parliament indicating that three sitting MPs and one former MP breached UK visa regulations by facilitating the entry of some of their supposed relatives to the UK using their Diplomatic Passports.
The letter cited Richard Acheampong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region; Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North in the Brong Ahafo region; Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo Ano South West in the Ashanti Region and George Boakye, former MP for Asunafo South in the Brong Ahafo.
The three MPs will be stripped of their Diplomatic Passports if found culpable according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, though she said her outfit was waiting for Parliament’s investigations into the matter before taking any definite action.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also look at amending the Passport and Travel certificates Law, 1993 to guard against the abuse of Diplomatic Passports.