The Maldives Immigration has confirmed that it is investigating the unlawful deportation and blacklisting of Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s stepmother, a Sri Lankan national named Gnei Skeelan. 

This investigation follows a documentary released by local news outlet Adhadhu, which claimed that Skeelan was deported and blacklisted from the Maldives in 2016 under questionable circumstances.

A spokesperson for Maldives Immigration stated that the authority recently became aware of the case and launched an investigation to ascertain the details. “We have been investigating to find out how this happened from then on,” said the spokesperson.

The issue gained public attention after Adhadhu’s documentary revealed that Skeelan agreed to forgo her inheritance rights following the death of Muizzu’s father in 2015. This agreement was reportedly based on a verbal commitment from Muizzu, who was then serving as Housing Minister, to provide financial support to Skeelan. However, Skeelan claims that Muizzu reneged on this agreement once the case was closed, leading to her blacklisting from the Maldives.

Former Attorney General and lawyer Dhiyana Saeed, in an interview with Adhadhu, highlighted the many legal irregularities surrounding Skeelan’s deportation. She noted that Skeelan was not provided proper documentation and was denied legal representation, which contradicts the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Mohamed Ahmed Hussain, Controller General of Maldives Immigration, also voiced concerns about the rapid pace at which the deportation was processed.

Gnei Skeelan, Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s stepmother (Screengrab: Youtube/Adhadhu)

Maldives Police Service on Wednesday confirmed to some local media outlets that there is no record of any investigations or complaints lodged against Skeelan, and she was not investigated by the police for the alleged crimes.

Muizzu, the presidential candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), responded to the allegations at a campaign rally in Fuvahmulah City. Denying any wrongdoing, he accused the current administration of launching personal attacks to discredit him. “I have never done anything in violation of laws and regulations, and I never will,” he stated. He also said that he had no objections to a fair investigation into the allegations against him.

The documentary and subsequent reports have led to polarised opinions among the public, with some questioning the timing of the news as a smear campaign against Muizzu, while others call for accountability.