The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has questioned the legality of transferring control of the Department of Immigration and Emigration to the Defence Ministry amidst wider concerns over what it alleges are a number of “surprising coincidences” this week.
In a press statement, the opposition MDP accused President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik of acting suspiciously after parliament voted by 74 votes to cancel the border control system agreed with Malaysia-based IT service provider Nexbis.
The President’s Office said today it rejected any insinuations that it had operated outside the law, while declining to comment on any statements from the MDP.
The former ruling party’s allegations focused on the president’s decision to travel to Malaysia – where Nexbis’ head offices are located – for a personal visit just three days after the Majlis vote.
The MDP also maintained that the president’s decision to transfer the Department of Immigration and Emigration to the Ministry of Defence and National Security was an unlawful act.
The Immigration Department was previously under the mandate of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to the opposition party, the structures of the executive ministries compiled by parliament had placed the immigration department under the oversight of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The party contended that the President’s Office decision to transfer any department outlined in this structure without prior parliamentary approval was therefore an unlawful act .
The Nexbis agreement was signed when President Waheed’s brother in law, Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim, was serving as Controller of Immigration and Emigration.
Ilyas has since been transferred to the Ministry of Defence and National Security as a State Minister, to which the immigration department now reports. The MDP statement alleged that the transfer of the department effectively placed control of immigration back under the authority of Ilyas.
The statement alleged that the move was an attempt by Waheed to cover up allegations of corruption in the deal signed with Nexbis.
Nexbis has denied all allegations of corruption in its Border Control System (BCS) deal, while last week filing a case with the Maldives Civil Court claiming parliament lacked the jurisdiction to order the government to terminate the IT company’s contract.
President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad also dismissed the MDP’s claims, stating “This government will never do anything unlawful. We review actions carefully before doing anything. It’s MDP that conducts unlawful activities.”
Masood refused to comment further on the matter, stating “MDP releases lots of statements. I do not wish to comment on what they have to say in those.”