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Immigration official held over passport scam

KAMPALA-Security operatives have arrested a top immigration official over his alleged involvement in selling Ugandan passports to foreigners who use them to committee criminal acts.

Sources say Mr Ronald Magala Ssematiko, a principal immigration officer, who is also an acting assistant commissioner of citizenship and passport control, was arrested two weeks ago. He is being held at unknown location.

The Spokesperson of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Mr Jacob Siminyu, on Thursday confirmed the arrest.
“We are aware that one of our officers, Ronald Magala Sematiko, a principal immigration officer, is being held by one of the sister agencies over a case whose details we are yet to establish.”

Mr Siminyu refused to say which agency arrested him, but sources say he was arrested by military intelligence operatives.

The army spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, was reportedly in a meeting and could not answer our repeated calls.

The police spokesperson, Mr Emilian Kayima, on Thursday said Mr Sematiko was not in police custody.

Sources say Mr Sematiko was picked from his office on July 23 at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
There are reports that foreign nationals pay between $5,000 (about Shs18.4m) and $20,000 (Shs73.7m) to immigration officials to acquire Ugandan passports. These foreigners use the travel documents to engage in unscrupulous activities.

As a result, individuals holding Ugandan passports have been treated with suspicion and persecuted in some countries such as China.

Some Ugandans who talked to Saturday Monitor last week said the major problem is in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province, which has the largest concentration of African immigrants and traders of any city in China and Asia.

Kampala Woman MP Nabila Nagayi last week said she was denied accommodation at a hotel in China after she presented her Ugandan passport.

After being denied access to hotels, many Ugandans have resorted to sleeping on the streets.

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