Story: News Desk
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has raised her apprehension regarding the ongoing prevalence of extortion and corrupt practices within the Passport Office.
After visiting the Passport Office on Monday, August 14, 2023, the Minister conveyed her astonishment at the uncanny procedures that applicants were facing due to the actions of certain personnel within the office.
A report published by the UNODC in 2021 identified passport agency officials as one of the categories of public officials in Ghana who are most likely to accept bribes.
The Minister expressed her sorrow over the existence of such extortion and disregard for proper conduct, especially considering the crucial role the Passport Office plays in facilitating international travel.
On the back of this, the Minister had directed overstaying security officials who have been seconded to the Passport Office to refrain from reporting for duty beginning Monday, August 21, 2023.
“We have always said that no agency should keep their staff here for more than a year and yet this is overlooked sometimes. And so I intend to ensure that this is carried out to the letter,” she explained.
During an interview, she emphasised that a comprehensive investigation had been initiated to address the prevailing situation.
“We are investigating and we have some leads which we are dealing with and very soon we will be able to have some firm information that we will deal with. It is so wrong, she added.
The Minister lamented that the current efforts to streamline operations at the Passport Office through digitisation have been hindered by specific civil servants who manipulate the online application system for their personal gain.
She further urged Passport Office staff to refrain from engaging in extortion and unethical conduct.
The Minister encouraged them to uphold professional standards, maintain a high level of work ethics, and treat applicants with the respect they deserve.
In the meantime, ongoing investigations into the activities of the “goro boys,” who exploit applicants with the assistance of office personnel, are progressing. The Minister emphasized that these external actors cannot operate in isolation but require the collaboration of certain individuals within the Passport Office.
She warned that those found responsible will face legal action as a deterrent to others.
The Minister stressed that these external actors cannot operate in isolation but rather necessitate collaboration with certain individuals within the Passport Office.
She cautioned that those found culpable will face legal proceedings as a deterrent to others.