Some high-ranking Election Commission officials in Dhaka and Chattogram took money using their office staffers as middlemen and forged national ID cards for the Rohingyas.
The EC officials’ direct involvement came to light after an office assistant made a confessional statement before a court mentioning the names of the officials, Chattogram court and police sources said.
Investigators are now waiting for the green light from higher authorities to arrest the officials.
According to the confessional statement of Chattogram Regional EC office’s Office Assistant Md Najim, 40, the then Panchliash zone Election Officer Md Abdul Latif Sheikh and a top official of Dhaka NID wing were directly involved in the NID forgery.
They used to share the money, Najim told metropolitan magistrate Khairul Amin on November 21.
Latif is now the senior election officer at the Pabna EC office.
With Najim, five EC staffers, two data-entry operators and three office assistants, have given confessional statements in the much talked about NID scam case filed with Kotwali Police Station on September 17.
The Counter Terrorism (CT) unit of Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) is investigating the case. So far, 11 people, including nine EC staffers, have been arrested.
In the confessional statement, Najim mentioned that he joined Panchliash election office in February 2, 2015, when Latif was the election officer there.
Data-entry operator Mostafa Faruq and office assistants Joynal Abedin and Hossain Patwary were also posted at the office then, he said.
Mostafa and Joynal are now behind bars.
He told the court that Mostafa’s and Joynal’s desks were next to his. Mostafa, Joynal, and Patwary used to reduce the age of voters in the NID database for money with the help of Latif.
They also used to enter dodgy data into the NID server in exchange for money.
Najim said he was transferred to another office a few months later for protesting the irregularities but he was posted back to the office after a while, court sources said quoting Najim’s statement.
He told the magistrate that Latif used to get the money through his office assistant Patwary. Patwary usually deposited the money in Latif’s bank account. Najim confessed that he too got involved in the forgery after a while.
Najim said Latif himself used to deposit money to the bank account of a high official of the NID wing in Dhaka.
Inspector Rajesh Barua, also the investigation officer of the case, refused to make any comment in this regard.
Deputy Commissioner of CMP CT unit Mohammed Shahidullah told The Daily Star, “We have learnt several names in the confessional statements and we are verifying the information… .”
Wishing to remain unnamed, a deputy assistant director of the Anti-Corruption Commission told The Daily Star, “During investigation, we found that deceased Rohingya robber Nur Mohammed got Bangladeshi NID smart card from the Panchlaish office.
“Latif was the Panchlaish thana election officer then.”
On September 15, the ACC found that using official devices and laptops, several syndicates provided Rohingyas with Bangladeshi NID cards for money. It said several EC laptops that could connect directly to the NID server were stolen but the EC was not made aware of the matter.
Police and passport officials said some Rohingya refugees, with the help of brokers and locals, were making Bangladeshi passports using forged NID cards.
The Rohingyas were using fake names and addresses while seeking the identification document.
EC officials still cannot say exactly how many Rohingyas got the cards.
After the incidents came to the fore, Double Mooring Thana election officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case accusing five and several unknown people.
The Daily Star could not get in touch with Latif and Patwary for comments.