Activist and philanthropist, Nasser Ayoub, is appealing to President Ernest Bai Koroma to look into a new immigration law which states that naturalised citizens who want to acquire a Sierra Leonean passport must be able to pay the sum of $3,000 (three thousand dollars) for the document.
Ayoub said with the enforcement of such legislation, Sierra Leone will go down in history as the country where they pay the highest amount of money to secure a single passport. According to the businessman, there is nowhere in the world where a citizen of a particular country is asked to pay such a whopping amount just to secure a passport. He argued that he was born here and the country's constitution permits him, like any other Sierra Leonean, to hold a national passport.
"For some of us this is our right. We were born and bred here and Sierra Leone is the only place we can call home," maintained the businessman. "This new law is just another means to deny us Sierra Leonean passport and I urge the president to look into this issue especially for some of us who were born here."
He added: "We want to know who took this decision and on whose behalf? We also want to know what they plan to do with that money." Ayoub said he understands that the government needs to raise money but that they can do so from people who are not born in Sierra Leone but want to acquire Sierra Leonean passport through naturalisation.
"Sierra Leone cannot do this to its own people," protested Ayoub. "We feel marginalised. I can understand if someone from China or India wants to acquire our passport through naturalisation and they ask him/her for such a colossal amount but not a Sierra Leonean who was born and bred here. I think this is not fear."
Ayoub said only people with bad intention for this country will pay such an amount to acquire a passport because according to him, they know what they will get at the end of it.
He appealed to President Koroma and other state authorities to look into this new law and review the fee to a more reasonable sum.
He further called on the authorities, including the Office of the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sierra Leone and various NGOs and foreign embassies to pay attention to this new law.
It could be recalled that Ayoub mounted a campaign some two years ago to claim his citizenship right. The owner of Hotel Africanus who was born in Sefadu, Kono district made international headlines after he threatened to go on a hunger strike if his full citizenship rights are not granted.