Liberia: Civil Society Group Wants ECOWAS, AU Join L$16 Billion Investigation

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Monrovia – The group, under the banner, Peace and Security Network of Women in ECOWAS Area (RESFECO) has called for the inclusion of independent forensic investigators from ECOWAS, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations on the investigation team set up by President George Weah to probe the alleged “missing billions in Liberian dollar banknotes.”

 


Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]


In a press statement issued in Monrovia, RESFECO said it holds the government accountable for its implementation of ECOWAS protocol on the fight against corruption and as such President George Weah should include the regional blocs to aid the investigation team.

Excerpt of the statement: “As REPSFECO members, we call on President George Manneh Weah to investigate claims of missing containers of money and contradictions concerning the money by his ministers. We hold the Government accountable for its implementation of ECOWAS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption specifically, Articles Four, Five, Six and Seven. We call on the Government to include independent forensic investigators from ECOWAS, AU, or the UN to aid in such an investigation in order to hold perpetrators accountable to the New Penal Code Chapter 15 subchapter F Economic Sabotage.”

The group in the release signed by its officials, Mmonbeydo N. Joah Harreli and Naomi Tulay – Solanke, President and Secretary-General respectively stated that “corruption, impunity, injustice and inequality have the propensity to reinforce systemic marginalization, poverty and breed violent extremism.”

The group also termed them as vices that are counterproductive to the Weah-led administration’s pro-poor agenda which seeks to build a stable, resilient, and inclusive nation and lift an additional one million Liberians out of absolute poverty over the next six years. 

“REPSFECO, therefore, calls on President Weah to address corruption as a crime and an impediment to development and a direct threat to peace and stability,” the group added.

The Peace and Security Network for Women in ECOWAS countries was established to work in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, security and the promotion of human rights, particularly of women and other vulnerable groups and to sustain peace in the ECOWAS region.  

Meanwhile, there has been conflicting information over an allegation of missing containers of a large quantity of money from the Freeport of Monrovia and the Robert International Airport (RIA).

It can be recalled that immediately after FrontPage Africa broke a story on September 17, 2018 under the caption “Authorities Tight-lipped on Reported Missing Container of Money from Freeport of Monrovia,” which detailed an alleged missing container of money amounting to L$9 billion (US$60 million) from the Freeport of Monrovia on March 31, 2018, the Ministry of Justice in a circular signed by the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean confirmed that a Presidential Taskforce comprising various security apparatus including the Financial Intelligence Unit had been constituted and mandated to investigate information surrounding the arrival of containers and bags of monies into the country by and thru the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport (RIA).”

This was backed by the Minister of Information, Lenn Eugene Nagbe when he told the Voice of America that the government was investigating not just L$9 billion, but close to L$16 billion printed during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson.

But the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah rubbished Minister Nagbe’s claims; saying there was no container of missing money; noting that it was impossible for L$15 billion to varnish when the total amount of Liberian dollars available in the country is L$17 billion.

These conflicting accounts over the alleged missing money led to an increased public anger that resulted to a mass demonstration by citizens under the banner “Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB)” in which it petitioned the international community to pressure the Weah-led administration to give account of the L$16 billion that is reported missing.

 

 

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