A few months ago, I stumbled upon information that Mr. Sebastian Muah, the embattled head of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO) had acquired shares in a Casino located in the Ledger Plaza in Bangui, the Central African Republic.
I’ve been sentenced to 5000 years in prison before, so I know the drill.
I know that in Liberia, it requires a hand-in-the-cookie jar scenario to nail any official of government accused of corruption.
I have come to learn that even if you present an official every opportunity to come clean they will either try to bribe you, intimidate you or in this case throw up an
arrogant tantrum under the guise of an extortion scheme to gain sympathy from the less than 1% who actually believe the bull crap come out of hot air.
In Liberia, anything goes but it really shouldn’t be that way.
Like many of you, I lost friends, family, next-door neighbours and high school classmates during an ugly civil war that killed scores of people and maimed our economic and physical infrastructures.
Rebels were told to break things down and they would be fixed later but as we are all seeing, it simply isn’t just that easy.
If Liberia is to change, all of us have to change. All of us have to dig deep into our inner soul and find the courage to tell our friends, loved ones and relatives given an opportunity to serve government that it is a privilege, not their right.
When the guns became silent, FrontPageAfrica arrived on the scene at a time when I felt we needed a medium to keep track of government and those who take their positions of power for granted and misuse public funds.
It was necessary because it is important that we eliminate from our society, those things that led us to war, those things that forced a disgruntled band of progressives to stage a violent riot that rocked the Tolbert administration on April 14, 1979.
I was still a kid then and remember seeing people breaking into stores and going on looting sprees.
We never recovered or learned after that - or did we?
A year later, on April 12, 1980, Tolbert was gone.
I remember hearing Master Sargeant Samuel Kanyon Doe’s voice coming on the radio and telling us that he and his seventeen buddies had toppled Tolbert government, and how he had come to liberate a nation that deprived its people of the basic necessities of life and deprived its soldiers of decent living.
Simply put, Doe had come to give Liberia a new chapter. Nearly a decade later, he too fell prey resulting into a civil war that we all know remains the ugliest chapter in our history.
So this is why, after spending to separate stints in prison, I feel I owe it to Liberia to ensure that this does not happen to our country again, this is why, after spending two stints in prison and being accused of not taking an appeal to the high court in my ordeal with a former Minister, I always feel, as I did before, that it is important to allow officials of government accused of corruption to come clean when they are confronted with accusations or allegations of corruption.
Everything that is unfolding before you all today has been on the desk of the presidency and Mr. Muah for nearly three months.
Mr. Muah was asked, asked, asked, repeatedly asked and he denied.
For those of you still having doubts, there was a reason, if you follow the email trail, for my repeated questions to Mr. Muah regarding the casino affair - I know what I had in my possession.
Thus, my questions to him was just a means to an end, seeking validation of whether or not he would come clean on his role in this saga.
My point was to ensure that should this matter end the legal route as my previous ordeal went, I wanted to make sure that all the I’s were dotted and all the T’s crossed so that no one will come back to me and say they weren’t contacted or weren’t given a chance to respond to an allegation and we set out to damage their name.
To my utter dismay, Mr. Muah and the Ministry of Justice appear to be conniving in an attempt to shift the investigation from the issue at hand and turn the tables on me.
Please be informed that I am not taking this lightly and has already informed the office of the President of this scheme by Justice Minister Frederic Cherue.
The letter below has been submitted to the President: Unfair and Bias Play by Minister of Justice, Not Fair Madam President
Madam President, Happy New Year and hope all is well.
I write to file a complaint of bias against the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Fredrick Cherue. If you may recall a few months ago, long before this entire Sebastian Muah story unfolded, I submitted to you through Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah, an exchange of emails between Mr. Muah and I in which he categorically denied any knowledge of shares ownership in a casino in Bangui, the Central African Republic.
To my dismay, Minister Cherue sends me a letter seeking audience with me and suggesting extortion based on what he and Muah have been discussing.
I find it disturbing that Mr. Muah displayed a letter sent to me by Mr. Cherue at his press conference on Friday. How did he get a copy?
Madam President, I find it unfair that your letter to justice requesting a probe into the allegations against Mr. Muah has not been made public but the Minister has deliberately chosen to make my available to Mr. Muah for display at his press conference. The truth of the matter Madam President is that Mr. Muah lied when he said he had no interest or shares in the casino and if he has lied about that what else is he not lying about?
Based on his lies, the Liberia News Agency reported this based on his press conference which suggests that I am the culprit here.
I think for the sake of transparency and accountability, your office needs to make public your letter to Justice regarding Mr. Muah. You have always encouraged whistleblowing and encouraged the media to help you in the fight against corruption, we are doing our best but we cannot continue to do it when grave and unscathing allegations of this nature are allowed to be washed away. I have already submitted proof to Mr. Cherue's office but he has chosen to look the other way for reasons best known to himself. T
his is a travesty of justice and reflects poorly on your administration's fight against corruption. I think it is only fair that the media and the public knows the entire story before this gets out of hand. All the best
Please see the LINA report below:
Society-Muah-Rebuttal -LIBTELCO Boss Complains “FrontPage” Publisher to Pres. Sirleaf - Denies Having Shares in Foreign Casino
Monrovia, January 6 (LINA) – The Managing Director of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO), Mr. Sebastian Muah, has denied claims by the FrontPage Africa newspaper that he owns 10 percent shares in a casino in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Mr. Muah told the Liberia News Agency (LINA) Friday that the story is the outcome of “criminal extortion” by Mr. Rodney Sieh, Publisher of the paper, which began since October 2016.
He said Mr. Sieh decided to publish the story to pre-empt an investigation into a complaint he (Muah) had filed with the office of the President of Liberia against Sieh for extortion.
He said the Justice Ministry has already written Mr. Sieh, informing him of the complaint and citing him to a meeting to begin the probe for the alleged extortion.
The FrontPage newspaper Friday published a story in which it claimed that the LIBTELCO boss had acquired a 10 percent stake in a casino in Bangui, the Central African Republic.
LINA has obtained copy of a letter from the Justice Ministry, dated January 5, inviting authorities of the paper for a meeting on Tuesday, January 10, relative to the extortion allegations.
In the letter, Justice Minister Frederick Doe Cherue informed the FrontPage Africa authorities that the allegation is, “indeed, a concern to the Government of Liberia in light of the portfolio that Mr. Muah occupies.”
Mr. Muah today told reporters that he had sent a similar complaint to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
The LIBTELCO boss said he believes that the email exchanges with Mr. Sieh “clearly show desperation on the part of Mr. Sieh to extort money from me and, thereby, becoming the subject of a another criminal law suit.”
It can be recalled that former Agriculture Minister Christopher Toe sued FrontPage Africa in 2013 for libel and was awarded US$1.5 million by the Supreme Court of Liberia in the famous case.
Now you know the facts, you can judge for yourself. Everything is out there now: Mr. Muah’s denials, the casino document bearing his name and even the passport he submitted to process the casino business registration is in our possession.
We are not suggesting that he is guilty of anything.
Our story is simply reporting that an official of government that is in the midst of an economic decline made nearly a quarter million down-payment in purchase of shares for part ownership in a casino.
Mr. Muah declared assets at the start of his work in government, both the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission have those declarations.
I have been informed that the head of LINA Mr. J. Nagbe Sloh is the nephew of the Minister and has ties to Mr. Muah.
If this is the case the Minister cannot impartially oversee this matter.
LINA, I have been informed has taken down the article from its website following our inquiry into the matter.
Furthermore, I do not think it is too much to ask of a government to look into how this sudden wealth was acquired by Mr. Muah.
This, too is Liberia, my late friend, Tom Kamara has said, but it really doesn’t have to be. Liberia deserves better; and so should you.