November 17, 2011
Customs officials and the police in Mombasa have intercepted thousands of genuine Somali identification cards and passports in a container freight terminal few days after they were imported from abroad.
The consignment which was imported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was nabbed at Consolbase Container Freight Terminal in a 20 feet container which some of the goods were not declared.
Police and custom officials smashed the syndicate after a tip off from some clearing and forwarding agents over the suspected cargo.
Officers from different police department suspected the cargo after the clearing and forwarding agent became reluctant in clearing the cargo.
During the raid, more than six cartons of Somali national identification cards and children, normal and diplomatic passports were recovered among other assorted items.
Cartons of Somali Republican Transitional Federal Government’s passport and ID application forms were found in the container during inspection and verification process which was headed by Mr Benson Chacha, a custom manager in charge of Southern Region and Port Deputy OCPD Benjamin Rotich.
Mr Chacha said the passports were meant for Somalis and it was destined to Nairobi. Mr Chacha said several filers containing information of those who had applied for the documents were also recovered.
“We are looking for the clearing and forwarding agent and importing company officials who will give us more information to unearth further the syndicate,” said Mr Chacha.
He added, “Several blank and written passports ready to be used were also recovered.”
In the container, several machines among them those of printing passports and detecting fingerprints, computers, office and households goods were also recovered.
Mr Chacha said the products were genuine but they raised concern since some properties were not declared.
“All the passports and ID’s are genuine but we are holding them to find out who imported them and the motive,” he said.
A senior police officer who did not want to be named told Daily Nation the documents were meant to be distributed to a group of Somali’s to enable them access different countries.
“It is good for our security since the documents have been intercepted at the last stage before they were distributed to the owners since they could use them to commit any crime within and outside the country,” said the officer.
He added the syndicate has exposed different bodies responsible for the importation of the goods since the documents were at its final stage before being distributed to the importers.
The documents are intercepted few days after Internal Security Minister Prof Geroge Saitoti announced that the government is planning to conduct fresh vetting of all Somali’s living in the country as war agaisnt Al Shaabab intensifies.