Presidential Probe Clears Former Minister in Trafficking Case
Monrovia – A special presidential probe has no wrongdoing on the part of several former and current Liberian government officials linked to a 2013 human trafficking allegation.
In a statement signed this week, Deputy Minister Isaac Jackson, the government announced the completion of the investigation concerning the allegations which involved the Honorary Consul General of India, UPJIT Sing Sachdeva and some former and current officials of the Ministry of Justice, namely Col. Freddie Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration for Operation, Mr. Robert Budy, Director of Border Management, Cllr. Wilson Garpeh and Cllr. Wilkins Wright has been completed.
In July 2013, President Sirleaf dismissed Taylor, Budy and Cllr. Garpeh based on an investigation by the Ministry of justice relating to Human Trafficking.
At the time, the President appointed a team to conduct further probe on additional measures to be taken on the role and action against the former Solicitor General Cllr. Micah Wilkins Wright, the BIN Commissioner and the Indian Honorary Consul.
But in a statement this week, the government reported that after carefully interviewing nine witnesses and reviewing several evidential documents from three security agencies of the government, the Presidential Committee chaired by Hon. Conmany B. Wesseh, cleared the within named individuals of any official misconduct linking them to human trafficking.
Speaking in specific reference to the involvement of the indian Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia, His Excellency Upjit Sachdeva, the Report said: “In reviewing the facts and circumstances of this case in light of the President’s mandate (evidence of human trafficking), the committee did not find evidence of human trafficking or any crime on (Mr. Jeety).
“The report further stated that His Excellency Upjit Sachdeva acted in pursuit of an instruction from the Indian Government through the Embassy of India, in Abidjan, (Cote d’Ivoire) and that merely requesting the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Justice for assistance to have Joshua Samuels (one of their citizens) seek medical assistance abroad did not per se involve criminal wrongdoing.
In light of the Report, the Government wishes to thank the Chairman and Members of the Presidential Committee to further investigate Ministry of Justice Findings on Dismissed Officials; and has reaffirmed its fullest confidence in His Excellency Upjit Sachdeva, Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia.
The Government recognizes the strong sisterly relationship that exists between Liberia and India and as such will continue to work along with the Honorary Consul General of India, His Excellency Upjit Sachdeva in continuously fostering India-Liberia relationship.
The report which was recently obtained by FrontPageAfrica did note that former Solicitor General Wright, fell short of professional responsibilities by releasing the passport of Samuels.
“Cllr. Wright knew or should have known that the retrieval of Joshua Samuels’ passport was intended for his travel,” said the committee in its report which has now been obtained by FrontPageAfrica.
The committee, headed by the Former Minister of State of Presidential Affairs, Senator Conmany Wisseh, investigated the former Solicitor General and Deputy Minister alongside officials of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and Indian Honorary Consul General in Liberia, Upjit Sachdeva, also known as Jeety.
The investigation was based on a letter written by the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Cllr. Christiana P. Tah, to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, requesting that an independent body be set up to ascertain how suspect Samuels absconded as several officials in the Ministry were linked, including then Solicitor General Wright and Deputy Minister Taylor amongst others.
Samuels, an Indian national, was arrested on September 4, 2012, following the busting of an alleged human trafficking ring by officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. Following the raid two suspects, Joshua V. Samuels and Mohammed Ilyias, were arrested and their passports were confiscated.
The pair were subsequently arrested and charged by the Bureau of Immigration team headed by Col. Wilson Garpeh, Sr., then Director of Border Management. Suspect Mohammed was tried in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County and convicted while suspect Samuels was scheduled to be tried in Monrovia, Montserrado County.
“While the suspect, was awaiting trial, Col Garpeh informed Col. Robert Budy, the Deputy Commissioner for Operations, in January 2012, that Hon. Freddie Taylor, Deputy Minister for Justice for Administration and Public Safety, and Cllr. M. Wilkins Wright, Solicitor General of Liberia, were interested in Samuels’ passport based on an appeal made by the Indian Honorary Consul in Liberia, Upjit Schdeva, to sign for the passport of Joshua Samuels to allow him (Samuels) to seek medical treatment abroad due to heart disease and would turn him over to the BIN if he (Samuels) were needed for his trial,” noted the report.
Giving the position of Cllrs. Wright and Taylor, Deputy Immigration Commissioner Budy released the passport of the suspect to the then officials of the Ministry of Justice.
“The passport was delivered by Col. Garpeh to Deputy Minister Taylor, somewhere between February 5-10, 2013.
This estimation is based on the testimonies of Col. Garpeh and Deputy Minister Taylor.”
The passport was subsequently given to the Indian Consul General to facilitate the travel of Samuels out of Liberia “to seek medical treatment.” Going further, the report vindicated the Indian Consul General of any alleged role played in the ordeal.
“In reviewing the facts and circumstances of this case in light of the President’s mandate (evidence of human trafficking), the Committee did not find evidence of human trafficking or any crime on the part of Mr. Jetty,” the report mentioned.
The report says the Indian Consul General, acting in pursuit of an instruction from the Indian Government through the embassy in Abidjan, requested the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Justice for assistance to have Joshua Samuels—an Indian citizen—to seek medical assistance abroad.