Malawi’s Immigration Department finds itself mired in yet another scandal as it comes to light that a questionable Nigerian entrepreneur, Dozy Mmobuosi, was granted a diplomatic passport two hours after applying.

This revelation follows the recent arrest of Rwandese genocide suspect Fulgence Kayishema in South Africa, who was found in possession of a Malawian passport.

While thousands of Malawians endure lengthy queues to obtain passports, the Immigration Department inexplicably expedited Mmobuosi’s application, issuing him a diplomatic passport bearing MWD001402 just two hours after submission.

Notably, this incident occurred after the department’s official closing time of 5 pm as Mmobuosi submitted his passport application, filed under 11338407694, and he was issued the passport shortly after 7 pm.

Both the Homeland Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries have disavowed any knowledge or involvement in this matter.

“We are not aware. The authority [to issue the passport] did not come from us,” Foreign Affairs spokesman John Kabaghe told PIJ.

Homeland Security spokesman Patrick Botha simply said the ministry is ignorant of the issue.

Mmobuosi’s passport details in the Immigration Department’s system

Who Gets Diplomatic Passport in Malawi

Malawi’s Diplomatic Passport is valid for 10 Years except for Members of Parliament, which is valid for five years.

Today, several dignitaries, including President Lazarus Chakwera and first lady Monica, are entitled to this passport. Vice President Saulos Chilima and his spouse Mary too.

Former Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika and their spouses, as well as former vice presidents Cassim Chilumpha, Khumbo Kachali and their spouses, as well as Chief Secretary to the Government Zamba and her deputy Dr Janet Banda and former holders of these positions and cabinet ministers and their spouses are also entitled to get diplomatic passports.

Others are the Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara and her spouse, the clerk of parliament, High Court / Supreme Court judges and their spouses, Director General National Intelligence Service, The Chief Commissioner of Prisons, Director General of Immigration and Citizenship Services, The Ombudsman, The Law Commissioner, Leaders of Religious and faith organisations as well as any other person the President may direct.

No Sound Response from Immigration & State House

Immigration Department spokesman Wellingston Chiponde said he needed more time to find out the details of the matter.

Chief Immigration Officer, retired Brigadier General Charles Kalumo, invited PIJ to his office when asked to explain the matter. He spent two hours explaining how he fights corruption in the department but declined to say anything.

However, an inside source within the Immigration Department confided in PIJ that the authority to issue Mmobousi’s passport came from President Lazarus Chakwera after he held a meeting with former President Bakili Muluzi and Mmobousi at the State House in Lilongwe on June 7.

Speaking to PIJ on Wednesday, Muluzi said he was travelling to Morocco and would comment once he returns home in eight days. 

Meanwhile, Chakwera’s spokesman Anthony Kasunda who promised to inquire from his boss when asked, was yet to get back to PIJ a day after promising to do so.

Mmobuosi’s Philanthropic Endeavours: Promises and Puzzles

During his recent visit to Malawi, Dozy Mmobuosi pledged to invest K500 million into the Tigwirane Manja Housing Project in Phalombe after being approached by former President Bakili Muluzi.

According to local media reports, the project aims to benefit 45 families who survived Tropical Cyclone Freddy in the Phalombe region.

Muluzi, the Tigwirane Manja Initiative ambassador, confirmed Mmobuosi’s commitment to constructing 100 houses at K5 million each.

Muluzi also expressed his gratitude to Mmobuosi and appealed for additional well-wishers to support the efforts in Phalombe, where numerous households remain destitute.

Mmobuosi, present at the project’s launch, expressed his deep concern for the affected individuals and pledged to provide not only houses but also food items and seeds to aid in their recovery.

MBC Journalist Arthur Chokotho interviewing Dozy during the launch as Muluzi and Joyce Banda look on

Dozy Mmobuosi: Technology Entrepreneur or Fraudster?

In his online profile, Dozy Mmobuosi portrays himself as a technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and advocate for social and technological advancement in Africa. He claims to be the Founder and CEO of Tingo Group, Inc., Africa’s leading Agri-Fintech company, and Tingo International Holdings, Inc. (TIH), an investment firm focused on targeted acquisitions in the technology sector.

Mmobuosi’s profile highlights his contributions to addressing global challenges such as climate change, food security, and social upliftment through his philanthropic ventures.

He launched the Dozy Mmobuosi Foundation in December 2021 and has committed to donating 10% of his net worth to the cause.

Additionally, he established the Dozy Mmobuosi Leadership Centre (DMLC) to promote African leadership and academic excellence.

Controversies Surrounding Tingo Group and Mmobuosi

However, Nigerian media outlets present a contrasting image of Mmobuosi and his Tingo Group. Several reports allege the company engaged in deceptive practices, including falsely claiming to offer products and services it did not possess.

Tingo Group’s assertions of generating $128 million in Q1 2023 through mobile handset leasing, call, and data segments, purportedly in partnership with Airtel Nigeria, were refuted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The NCC stated that no such agreement existed and had no record of Tingo being a mobile licensee. Similar discrepancies surround Tingo’s claims about Tingo Mobile, Tingo Pay, and Tingo Foods, raising doubts about the company’s credibility.

Mmobousi and Joyce Banda unveil a plaque during the launch

Hindenburg Research’s Findings: Exposing a Worthless Fraud

Hindenburg Research, an investment research firm focused on activist short-selling, published a report on June 7, the same day Mmobuosi received his Malawian passport. The report accuses Tingo Group of being an “exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials.”

Hindenburg’s investigations uncovered multiple red flags, including the use of stock photos in Tingo Mobile’s company presentation and website and discrepancies in Mmobuosi’s personal and professional history.

They assert that Tingo Group’s cash balance may be fictitious, highlighting errors and inconsistencies in its financial statements.

Hindenburg Research concludes that Tingo Group is a worthless and brazen fraud unlikely to sustain itself.

Tingo Group’s Denial and Response

In response to Hindenburg Research’s allegations, Tingo Group, a Nasdaq-traded company, vehemently refutes the claims, dismissing them as misinformation.

In a statement, the company categorically denies the allegations and points out that Hindenburg did not attempt to verify the information or inquire about it before releasing its report.

Neil Ashton of AMG Global, Tingo Group’s external advisor, said they wanted more time to comment on the matter, especially on contribution towards the construction of houses for Cyclone Freddy victims.

The Malawi Connection: Passport Issued Amid Controversy

Amidst the controversies surrounding Dozy Mmobuosi and Tingo Group, the revelation that Malawi’s Immigration Department granted him a diplomatic passport raises serious questions about the integrity and accountability of the department.

The circumstances of expedited passport issuance after official working hours are alarming. The involvement of relevant government ministries remains unclear, as they have denied knowledge or authorization.

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