Dozy Mmobuosi, a Nigerian businessman and tech entrepreneur, has been indicted over allegations of passport racketeering by the Malawian government.
According to a report issued by the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ-Malawi), Mr Mmobuosi was accused of obtaining a diplomatic passport two hours after applying for it through the nation’s Immigration Department.
Although the report did not state any relevant laws that were broken in the manner in which Mr Mmobuosi received his passport, it did highlight that the quick act was in sharp contrast to the lengthy queues that thousands of Malawians experience to obtain a passport.
However, according to the report, Mr Mmobuosi filled out and applied for his passport under 11338407694 at the Immigration Department’s closing time of 5:00 p.m., and he was awarded the passport just after 7:00 p.m.
Relevant Malawian immigration authorities who spoke to PIJ-Malawi have all denied any knowledge or involvement in this matter.
Homeland Security spokesman Patrick Botha said the ministry is ignorant of the issue.
The Malawian foreign affairs spokesperson John Kabaghe who spoke to PIJ-Malawi denied any knowledge of the matter. “We are not aware. The authority [to issue the passport] did not come from us,” he reportedly said.
While the Immigration Department spokesperson Wellingston Chiponde said he needed more time to find out the details of the matter.
The PIJ-Malawi, on the other hand, claimed in its report that sources within the country’s Immigration Department said that the authorisation to issue Mr Mmobousi’s passport came from President Lazarus Chakwera after his visit to the country and meeting with former President Bakili Muluzi and Mmobousi on June 7 at the State House in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
Reports from local media had revealed that Mr Mmobousi during his visit to Malawi had pledged to invest K500 million ($488,591) in the Tigwirane Manja Housing Project in Phalombe after being approached by former President Bakili Muluzi.
Mr Mmobuosi and his company Tingo Group, a rapidly expanding conglomerate encompassing various industries such as technology and an online food marketplace for farmers primarily based in Nigeria, were accused of being a “exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials” by Hindenburg Research, a U.S. investment research firm focused on activist short-selling.
Hindenburg Research said its checks with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that it has no record of Tingo being a mobile licensee at all, despite company claims of having 12 million mobile customers.