Nexbis project one third completed despite ACC’s legal effort

Despite the legal complications surrounding the deal, the Nexbis border control project has completed its first phase, with Rf10 million’s (US$650,000) worth of installation work having been finished, according to Sun Online.

The project involves the installation of an electronic border gate system in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), bringing technological upgrades such as facial recognition, fingerprint identification and e-gates to the Maldives.

Assistant Controllerof the Department of Immigration and Emigration Ibrahim Ashraf confirmed to Minivan News that “the first phase is, to a certain extent, finished.”

The Rf500 million (US$39 million) deal had been brought to standstill by the High Court earlier this month in the latest in a series of delays which have led the Malaysian firm to threaten legal action against the Maldivian government should it incur losses for the work already done on the project.

Sun reported a source as saying that there were three phases in the contract with Nexbis. The second phase involves the installation of further systems for an online visa service while the third phase would include improving passport mechanism services.

The deal ran into trouble soon after it was awarded in 2010, with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) demanding the project be terminated and re-tendered, citing allegations of corruption in the bidding process.

Legal suit was filed in November 2011 after the government decided to begin work on the project against the ACC’s advice. The subsequent decision by the Civil Court was that the ACC did not have the authority to order the Department of Immigration and Emigration to stop the project.

Subsequent appeals to the High Court earlier this month resulted in an injunction against any further work until the case had been resolved. At the time, the ACC had expressed concern that the project could be completed before the conclusion of the High Court case.

Ashraf said that staff training for the new system was planned for May 10 but had been cancelled due to the injunction.

Hassan Luthfee, President of the ACC, said that the commission had not investigated into the work’s current progress but believed the work on the first phase had been completed prior to the High Court injunction, as did Ashraf. Luthfee said the ACC had appealed to the court to “delineate” the role of the ACC and expected a verdict by the end of this month.

According to the Anti-Corruption Act (Act No. 13/2008) under which the ACC was established, following any inquiry and investigation the commission is empowered to forward the case to the Prosecutor General for prosecution. It is also granted the power to order the institution in question to correct any failures in management that may have led to corrupt practices.

Part of the roles and responsibilities of the ACC, as defined in the constitution, is “to perform any additional duties or functions specifically provided by law for the prevention of corruption.” The ACC’s objections to the Nexbis deal were based on its belief that the bidding process was flawed.

A source at the immigration department at the time of the ACC’s initial complaint in 2010 claimed that it was the finance ministry which evaluated all the bids. The same source also argued that the desire within the ACC to stop the project could have been politically motivated.

The ACC filed a suit against the Home Ministry in January, citing “unlawful practices” in the tender process while evaluating bids to set up partitions in the ministry’s office.


President forms committee to control gang violence in the Maldives

President Mohamed Nasheed has formed a special committee to curb gang violence and gang related crimes in the Maldives.

The committee consists of National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal, Home Minister Hassan Afeef, Attorney General Abdulla Muiz, State Defence Minister Mohamed Muiz Adnan and Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz.

The President’s Office said that the committee had their first meetings yesterday afternoon and had decided to establish a special task force to curb serious and organised crime.

The task force will be led by Maldives Police Service and will consist of officials from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS), Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Education, Courts of law, Prosecutor General’s Office, Maldives Customs Service, Ministry of Health and Family, Ministry of Human Resources Youth and Sports, Immigration Department and officials from the Local Government Authority.

The work of the special task force will be to secure the citizens of the country, isolate and arrest those who commit offences that disrupt the peace and harmony, to rehabilitate criminals and to offer opportunities for them to be back in society after they are reformed.

‘’This committee assures the citizens that we will constantly work to reinstate the peace in this country in national level,’’ the committee said in a statement via the president’s office. ‘’We will continuously try to gain attention and cooperation from the implementing agencies, businessman, NGOs, political parties and the public.’’

The committee said that in order to achieve its goal, all the institutions should corporate and work together.

This week the committee will meet the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, National Security Committee [241 committee] of the parliament, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and other judges at the Supreme Court.

Recently a ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed presented an amendment to the Clemency Act which requires upholding death sentences if upheld by the Supreme Court and later withdrew it for the Penal Code and Evidence Bill was not yet passed.

In 2008 Rasheed said 104 cases of assault were sent to Prosecutor General, increasing to 454 in 2009 and 423 cases in 2010.

More recently 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer was stabbed to death on Alikileygefaanu Magu.

On June 2008, the major gangs in Male’ gave a press conference at Dharubaaruge and declared ‘’peace’’ and vowed to work together.