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FRAUDULENT AND ILLEGAL ACQUIRED…High Court may force James Cullen to surrender Passport

Some legal luminaries are reportedly putting papers together for the attention of the High Court to get James Taiwo Cullen surrenders his Sierra Leonean Passport as he acquired it at the time fraudulently and by deception. A prominent constitutional lawyer in Sierra Leone (name withheld for now) has remarked that it would be a test case for the Sierra Leone Judicial system since there is no immigration court in the country that can assess the validity of the argument “As long the foundation was illegal the structure should also be considered illegal” He argued. James Taiwo Cullen acquired his first passport illegally, by failing to meet the relevant criteria and has continued to acquire others without fulfilling the relevant steps, therefore; on the basis of the acquisition of the first, which was improper succeeding ones can also be considered improper especially when he has failed according to evidence available in his file to regularize his status.

The determination and issuance of a National Passport in any country falls within the ambit of the Immigration and Naturalization Department of that country.  Rules relating to Passports are laid down, agreed and promulgated by an Act of Parliament, in a Parliamentary democracy such that Sierra Leone currently enjoys.

However, in Sierra Leone, there is or there should be in being, a Scrutiny Committee to which all new applications for Passport are referred.

At such Committee Evaluation Meetings, the nationality of the applicant is ascertained, from where he was born by what parentage, that is of Negro African Descent etc.

For applicants with Naturalized status different criteria are considered in accordance with the prevailing law at the particular date of birth of the applicant.

Before Sierra Leone gained an Independent status in 1961 legitimization was in accordance with the Law prevailing in Britain, as in all territories colonized by Great Britain. In other words, persons born in any British Territory by a foreign father took the Nationality of the father and not the mother. Subsequent legislation may however vary that status as provided then.

After Sierra Leone became Independent on 27th April 1961, it would appear that the nationality of persons born in Sierra Leone continued to be that determined by the father’s nationality at the date of birth.

In 1973 however, the Sierra Leone Citizenship Act, No. 4 of 1973 was passed by Parliament by which, Part II-

Citizenship by Birth, states as follows:

 

Section 2

Every person who, having been born in Sierra Leone before the nineteenth day of April, 1971, or who was resident in Sierra Leone on the eighteenth day of April, 1971, and not the subject of any other State shall, on the nineteenth day of April, 1971, be deemed to be citizen of Sierra Leone by birth:

Provided that-

(a)       His Father or his Grandfather was born in Sierra Leone; and

(b)        He is a person of Negro African Descent;

 

Section 3

Every person born in Sierra Leone on or after the nineteenth day of April, 1 971, in the circumstances set out in section 2, shall be deemed to be a citizen of Sierra Leone by birth.

This is to say, that to be a citizen of Sierra Leone by birth even though one’s mother may be of Negro African Descent of Sierra Leone parentage, a child born before that date and thereafter will take the Nationality of the father and not the mother.

In 1976, the Sierra Leone Citizenship Act No.4 1973 (the Parent Act) was amended whereby Part III was repealed and replaced by the following new Part III where by Section 8(1); Every person of Negro African Descent born in Sierra Leone after the eighteenth day of April, 1971, may on application being made by him in the manner prescribed, be granted a Certificate of Naturalization.

Section 8 (2) Every person of full age and capacity, either of whose parents is a person of Negro African Descent who is resident in Sierra Leone and has been continuously so resident for a period of not less than eight years; may, on application in the prescribed manner being made by him that he is qualified for Naturalization under the Second Schedule, be granted a Certificate of Naturalization.”

On 26th October 2006, “the Sierra Leone Citizenship (Amendment) Act N0. 10, 2006 came into force. By this amendment Citizenship of Sierra Leone could then and now be acquired by birth through the Mother as explicitly stated in the new definition of Mother and Father in the 2006 Act. By section 2 of this Act states:

Mother” means a natural but not an adoptive mother”

Person of Negro African Descent” means a person whose Mother or Father and any of the Grandparents of the Mother or Father is or was a Negro of African Descent”.

“Provided that his Father, Mother or any of his Grandparents was born in Sierra Leone and is or was a person of Negro African Descent.”

In 1953, when Mr. James Taiwo  Cullen was born by a Sierra Leone  mother and a European Father, (not of British Nationality), he clearly could not have been a citizen of Sierra Leone, because citizenship was acquired from the Father and not the Mother. This situation was confirmed by Section 2 and 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1973.

Notwithstanding the amendment of the Parent Act by the Sierra Leone Citizenship Act. No. 13 of 1976, made further provision for Nationality and it does appear that Mr. Cullen did not take advantage of the opportunity to Naturalize etc.

Without Naturalizing, it appears from the forgone that James Taiwo Cullen lived in Sierra Leone as a non citizen.

For some reason not explicit to date, Mr. Cullen applied for and received his first Sierra Leone travel document (Passport) No. 0073445 on 12th January 1995, perhaps fraudulently and possibly by deception, as it is believed that he failed to furnish the Immigration and Naturalization Department details regarding his paternity, the late James Timothy Cullen his father, whose nationality was a European according to the birth certificate of James Taiwo Cullen(son), dated 29th October, 1953 and the event of his birth was registered in Freetown in Registry Vol. No 86 Page 76 No 376 of the Register of Births in the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Before the effective date of the Commencement of Act No. 10 of 2006, on 26th October 2006, Mr. James Cullen replaced his 1995 passport with one dated 14th June 2006. (No.0043238).

This Passport was again replaced on 9th March 2007 with Passport No: 0178453.

It was on this date; falling after the coming into force of the Sierra Leone Citizenship (Amendment) Act N0.10 of 2006 that James Taiwo Cullen could have probably and proudly walk away as a citizen by birth of the state of Sierra Leone. He currently holds an ECOWAS Passport which he obtained recently with No: E000814.

The basis of obtaining a Sierra Leone passport when he was only a resident alien citizen must be explained by Immigration for all concerned to ensure that this does not occur in the future.

The Passport saga on 96.2 FM Radio, continuously touching the National Immigration Service, has created concern among citizens generally.

In the matter relating to Philip Neville Investigation has revealed that he was born at Kosso Village otherwise known as Middle Town Village, Waterloo in the Rural District and not Kossoh Town, in the vicinity of Grafton and was born by a Negro African Descent, unlike James Taiwo Cullen who was fathered by a non Negro African Descent

As to what has appeared as  errors  in the year of birth, it was found that in the subsequent and last application for replacement of his lost passport, an attached affidavit pleading any errors in the previous application were expunged by that affidavit. It was on this ground a new passport was issued. It is of very serious concern that the Chief Immigration Officer  Mr. Kholifa Koroma allowed the passport to be issued and thereafter purportedly reported the irregularity to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs, for the information of the Minister. Perhaps   Mr. Koroma did not understand that The Affidavit had an overriding effect on all previous, discerned or discernable errors that validated the application.

Subsequently, what appears to be classified information from the Head of a Department to the Supervising Ministry, falls into the hands of the Media (96.2 FM Radio) before the Minister had taken a position on the matter.

It must be the view of right thinking person; including Political pundits and analysts that the whole episode has shown the immigration Service to be inept and to say the least, fastidious.

The Scrutiny Committee of the Immigration Department that would have evaluated the first application of James Taiwo Cullen and the application of Philip Neville, by interviewing them etc and this could have obviated those previous errors of judgment that has opened the Immigration Service to ridicule and scorn.

The Immigration and Naturalization Department needs to be protected against these “slours.

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