imagesAnytime the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Joseph Bandala Dauda speaks about the Passport Contract or takes a defensive position, relating to his manipulation and subsequent action for cleverly creating a “Third Party Contractor” involving NET PAGE, a Company owned by a group of Lebanese Nationals with office address registered as H51, Hill Station, he triggers huge debates that has ultimately left him more exposed than expected.

It would be recall that Four International Companies took part in the tender process for the production of e-Passport and readable machines. The Companies are OeSD in Austria, Cetis in Slovenia, Zetis in Belgium and Oberthur in France. The facilities of all the four Companies were inspected by officials from both the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Sierra Leone Immigration and Naturalization Service, but that of De La Rue International was not, because there is no De La Rue International and De La Rue plc is no more in the business of printing Passports . Report states that among the facilities visited the delegation was impressed and satisfied with the facility in France. Whether, it was due to the fact that the French provided them with tickets, hotel accommodation and other motivation is not known or for other reasons, which were not disclosed. However, Oberthur Technology was given a clean bill when they returned.

Meanwhile, in a press release issued yesterday by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. J.B.Dauda (Published in this edition) he made the following claims

1)                   “That the contract for the extension of the Passport Contract and upgrade of Machine Readable Passport to e-Passport and Visa Stickers between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and De La Rue International Limited Trading as De La Rue Identity Systems has been executed after it was vetted by the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice”

Note: Mr. J.B.Dauda failed to state in his endorsed press release that after he had manipulated the process, his Permanent Secretary, Mr. Prince E.O.Cole in a letter dated 6th December, 2013 wrote that the contract documents and minutes of the Procurement Committee have been forwarded to the Law Officers Department for legal advice. He also did not state whether the Law Officers Department was lobbied for a No Objection. In response to the Ministry’s request the Principal State Counsel, Mr. Kekura Bangura wrote back, dated 16th December, 2013 to say “In your reply to my responding memorandum dated 13th December, 2013 of even reference, you forwarded a NO OBJECTION obtained from the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) dated 12th December, 2013 for your Ministry to proceed with the extension of the contract as proposed”(See documents dated 6th and 16th December 2013) In addition, Mr. Keikura Bangura said “In view of the above, I have no legal objection to any of the clauses as contained in the draft Memorandum of Understanding. The parties are at liberty to proceed with the finalization of the proposed extension of contract…”

In the next paragraph of the press release, which also contained Minister J.B.Dauda’s defence he said “ The Procurement Committee which extended the contract in 2013 acted in strict compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2004 and the Public Procurement Regulation 2006”

Note: What the act says, he did not relay to the public.

3. De La Rue is a worldwide renowned specialist in the printing of securitized documents and has been responsible for designing and printing our national passports for over forty (40) years and the Visa Stickers for over a decade.

Note: It is true that De La Rue is printing securitized documents, but it would appear that the Minister of Internal Affairs is not aware that De La Rue has changed hands and no more printing Passports. The Company now concentrates on other securitized documents such as currencies, cheque books and more. In addition, there is no De La Rue International (De La Rue is a British Security Printing, Paper making and cash handling systems Company headquarter in Basingstoke, Hampshire. It also has a factory on the team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, and other facilities at Loughton, Essex and Bathford, Sommerset. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The Company was founded by Thomas De La Rue, who moved to London in 1821 and set up in business as a stationer and printer. Working as a boy of the streets, in 1831 he secured his business a Royal Warrant to produce playing cards. In 1855 it started printing postage stamps and in 1860 it began printing banknotes. In 1896, the family partnership was converted to a private Company. In 1921, the De La Rue family sold their interests. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1947 the Company, then called Thomas De La Rue and Company, Limited changed its name in 1958 to THE DE LA RUE COMPANY LIMITED. A takeover bid for De La Rue was made by the Rank Organization plc in 1968, but this was rejected by the Monopolies Commission as being against the public interest. In 1991 the Company’s name was changed again-this time to De La Rue plc… (Courtesy Wikipedia). There is nowhere, it is documented that De La Rue has changed its name to De La Rue International.

4. This is the other part of the Minister’s defence: Contrary to a newspaper report the passport contract was never discussed in Cabinet: Note, Minister J.B.Dauda may have forgotten to recall a Cabinet Paper dated 18th September, 2013 initialed by him (JBD) on the subject, “Extension of Passport Contract and Upgrade of Machine readable Passport to E-Passport” which he took to his Cabinet Colleagues (Since the document is marked SECRET, we cannot publish)

It is evidently clear from documentary evidence and information gathered so far coupled with interviews conducted by this medium with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. J.B.Dauda that he least expected the entire manipulation would become public, and he is effortlessly trying to cover what he and the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Prince E.O.Cole had messed up.

Reactions from Oberthur Technology laid bare what officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are trying to cover from the public. According to Mr. Bernard of Oberthur Company he said, Oberthur Technology received a tender dated 25th October, 2011 referenced MIA/GoSL/001/2011 regarding the delivery of an Integrated &Automated Security Data/Information System. In November 2011, Oberthur submitted its offer. On 8th October 2012, Oberthur received from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs an invitation for negotiation on the production and issuance of e-ID Cards and e-Passports. A delegation of Oberthur was in Freetown in November 2012, but due to the coming elections the negotiation did not start. In February, 2013, Oberthur paid a visit to the new Minister of Internal Affairs H.E.Joseph Dauda. After two days meeting, the Minister told Oberthur that the negotiations will start, latest in May 2013. As far as nothing happened, Oberthur sent again a letter to the Minister to remind him about the project milestones. On 27th June 2013, Oberthur received an official letter confirming that Oberthur was awarded for this project, but requested Oberthur to wait till the contract with De La Rue to end. In November, 2013, Oberthur welcome to France a delegation from Sierra Leone-Ministry of Internal Affairs to check and validate the capacity of Oberthur to provide e-Passports and e-ID to the Government of Sierra Leone. The visit seemed very satisfying for the delegation, but without any feedback from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Oberthur wrote two letters in January 2nd and 27th January 2014, but no response….(published verbatim). During the period of no response, the Minister was busy trying to bring in a “Third Party Contractor”, which he called a Local Content Provider that will serve as an intermediary between the Government of Sierra Leone and De La Rue International. Has there ever being an intermediary between the Government of Sierra Leone and De La Rue for the past forty years that it has been doing business with the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone?”

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