Aziz recommended changing photos of his brothers' fake NIDs

Haris Ahmed and Tofael AhmedCollected

Former army chief’s brother Haris Ahmed took a NID (national ID) card under the name Mohammad Hasan with false information in 2014. He changed his photo in the NID card in 2019. The then army chief General (retired) Aziz Ahmed made the recommendations for changing the photo.

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It was revealed in Prothom Alo’s investigation that Tofael Ahmed alias Joseph, another brother of Aziz Ahmed, has two NIDs. He used false information to get one of those two ID cards. As per the law, making several ID cards or using false information to get an ID card both are punishable offences. However, the Election Commission (EC) is yet to take any action against the two brothers.

As per the court documents, Joseph’s mother's application for remission of his sentence and the government circular for remission of Joseph’s sentence mentioned Abdul Wadud and Renuja Begum as his parents.

However, the names of his parents’ are Suleman Sarkar and Rahela Begum as per the national ID card of his brother Haris Ahmed. A NID card was issued for Haris Ahmed under the name Mohammad Hasan on 18 February 2014. He changed his photo on the NID card on 5 August. The registration of national ID cards falls under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission (EC). 

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Speaking to the relevant officials of the EC, it has been learnt that information and photos on the NID cards can be changed, but it takes time unless there is any recommendation from influential persons. In case of changing any information or the photo on the NID cards, the concerned officials keep the names of the recommenders in the records as reference to ensure that he or she could be found in case of any problem in future. They also preserve these applications.

It was found during investigation that Mohammad Hasan (Haris Ahmed) appealed for changing the photo on his NID card on 5 August. General Aziz Ahmed, CSS (chief of army staff) was mentioned as the reference in that application. The entire process of changing the photo was done in one day.'

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As per the National Identity Registration Act, providing false or alternated information deliberately to get the national ID card is a punishable offence with a maximum punishment of one year in prison or a fine of Tk 20,000 maximum or both. The capital punishment for forging a NID card and carrying it is seven years in prison or a fine of maximum Tk 100,000. The punishment is the same for the persons who helped forge the NID card.

Former army chief Aziz Ahmed has been mentioned as the recommender on the application for changing the photo on the NID card of his brother, which contains false information.

However, he claimed to Prothom Alo that the allegation is not right.

Joseph has two NID cards

Tofael Ahmed alias Joseph collected a NID card changing the names of his parents and him. He collected the NID card under the name of Tanvir Ahmed Tanjeel. A house in Mirpur DOHS has been mentioned as the permanent address on that card and a house in the Dhaka Cantonment area as the permanent address. Prothom Alo published a report on these two brothers getting new NID cards with false information on 18 February, 2021.

This correspondent found information about another NID card of Joseph while investigating. He made this NID card in 2019 using his real name. He also used the real name of his parents – Abdul Wadud and Renuja Begum on that NID card. He mentioned business as his profession on that NID card.

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Although Joseph signed in the form required for getting a NID card, he didn’t mention the date. However, he gave a mobile number under the ‘013’ series of the Grameen Phone, which was introduced in 2018. According to the EC sources, Tofael Ahmed was issued that ID card in 2019. His parents were mentioned as Solaiman Sarker and Fatema Begum on the previous NID card that he collected under the name of Tanvir Ahmed Tanjeel.

The two NIDs yet to be cancelled

Meanwhile, none of the two NID cards collected by Joseph has been cancelled as of Monday noon. The NID he collected under the name Tanjeel is fully active and the current status of the other ID card that Joseph collected using his own name is ‘incomplete’ on the server of the EC, which means it is not fully active or inactive. But the NID server has the information regarding this.

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Speaking regarding this, EC secretary and spokesperson, Md Jahangir Alam told Prothom Alo that none of these incidents happened during his term. However, if somebody files any complaints against someone having multiple NID cards, then they will launch an inquiry.

Sources in the EC said the smart card for the NID card collected under the name Tofael Ahmed Joseph has already been printed. It was sent to Mohammadpur police station as he mentioned a house on the Nurjahan Road in Mohammadpur as his permanent and present address.

Prothom Alo and several international news media published reports on Aziz Ahmed exerting influence to get NID cards and passports for his brothers with false information while he was still in charge.

Aziz Ahmed’s brother Haris was sentenced to life in prison in two murder cases. Another brother of his, Anis was convicted in a murder case and was sentenced to life in prison.

The home ministry published the circular of the remission of their sentences on 28 March 2019.

Joseph was an accused in a case filed over the killing of Mohmmadpur-base businessperson Mostafizur Rahman in 1996. He was sentenced to death by the court. The High Court upheld the verdict of the lower court. Later, the appellate division commuted the sentence to life in prison. Joseph was released from the prison after securing pardon from the president.

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Aziz Ahmed served as the army chief from 25 June 2018 to 23 June 2021. The USA has imposed a sanction on the former army chief on the allegation of being involved in corruption. As a result, he and his family members have lost the eligibility to enter the USA.

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu