The directorate of criminal investigations is probing a group of staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who were in the business of dishing out fake diplomatic notes for US visas, to the public.
The staff include; Innocent Opio, who is a first secretary; Emmanuel Wandera, a foreign service officer; Louis Mary Kiwanuka, a courier at the same ministry and John Baptist Odong, a corporal driver who has since fled to the US.
However, preliminary investigations by Police revealed that 11 visa applicants allegedly submitted fraudulent documents to the American Embassy in Kampala, using documents that were signed and endorsed by the foreign affairs staff.
All 11 applicants were fronted as police officers going for a training course in Washington DC in the US.
The Police, however, established that out of the 11, 10 turned out to be civilians, while one was a police officer who gave false information, saying he was attached to the directorate of criminal investigations.
“Out of the 11 applicants, three have successfully travelled to the US, while two were arrested at the point of picking up their passports. The passports of three applicants are still pending at the US embassy, while three had not yet submitted their documents for verification,” Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson told journalists at a joint security weekly briefing Monday, September 12.
It is alleged that two diplomatic notes dated June 21, 2022, and July 4, 2022, were issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs using fraudulent or falsified police certificates.
“The attached police certificates were signed on behalf of the director for Interpol and International Relations, but we have since established that they were a forgery and we would have expected the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to carry out very sufficient due diligence to establish whether the documents were authentic or not,” Enanga revealed.
The Police also established that the diplomatic note issued on June 21, 2022, was signed by Opio.
Opio, who was interrogated by Police, could not give clear reasons for issuing the diplomatic note.
He, however, acknowledged that the signature on the diplomatic note was his.
The other diplomatic note dated July 4, 2022, was signed by Wandera, who claimed that he had signed the document after correcting an error on the original one allegedly signed by his superior. But he did not notify his superior of the changes, which makes him also a suspect.
Kiwanuka, on the other hand, played the role of delivering the diplomatic notes to the US embassy after receiving them informally from an intermediary known as John Baptist Odong.
Odong is a corporal driver and is currently under suspension.
He, however, sneaked out of the country to the US on August 9, 2022.
Police also reinstituted inquiries against Innocent Opio over a similar complaint of fraudulent documents at the US embassy in 2017, where he was the signatory to the fraudulent forgery in the diplomatic note.
Whereas Opio is currently under police custody, Wandera and Kiwanuka have since been released on police bond.
“Investigations show that a number of travel agents in intermediaries in collusion with rogue officials are submitting fraudulent applications for US visas at costs ranging from sh10m to sh15m. They submit fake work experiences, fake bank documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates among others to procure student, business and resident visas,” Enanga said.
He warned intending applicants to always use the right channels and not to insist if they do not meet the immigration rules.
Efforts to get a comment from the ministers and permanent secretary at the foreign affairs ministry went futile as all did not pick up their known telephone numbers by press time.