Liberia: ‘I Will Return in May’: COP Leader Costa Slams Weah-led Govt’s ‘Cheap Farce’ Charges
Monrovia – Mr. Henry Pedro Costa, leader of the Council of Patriots(COP) has vowed to return to Liberia, just days after fleeing arrest on allegations that he forged an emergency travel document.
Speaking to the BBC Focus on Africa Friday, Mr. Costa accused the George Weah-led government of cooking up a bogus charge and says he will return in May to face his accusers. “I will return to my country in May of this year. I will return to Liberia in May of this year. Let them arrest me at the airport, charge me with whatever crimes, let them prosecute me. I will return,” Mr. Costa declared.
The COP leader who lamented that he felt a bit safer to be in the United States of America, said it was rather unfortunate for him to find himself in such a predicament.
“I belong to the Kpelleh tribe, my tribe is the largest tribe in the country. I’m a Kpelleh man. The President’s tribe is way smaller than my tribe. The issue here is – this is what the President always says, when he flies private jet while people are suffering and then he says, they’re saying these things about me because I’m a country boy without realizing how badly he’s running the country and everybody are concerned, including those who voted for him.”Mr. Henry Costa, Leader, Council of Patriots
Said Mr. Costa: “It is unfortunate and it is politically motivated and it is a cheap farce. I returned to Liberia on the 19th of December, presented to the immigration at the airport this particular document which they accepted, the validated, they stamped it and they allowed me entry into my country.”
Mr. Costa wondered how is it that three weeks later, the Weah government would now come up to say that the document he presented to immigration authorities, which they accepted was forged. “It is not true. It is because of the peaceful protest we had which embarrassed the government and the president about the scale of corruption and bad governance happening in our country with which we are very dissatisfied. Their reaction is based on that, nothing else.”
Mr. Costa said when I traveled to Liberia on the 19th of December, he left his passport in Accra, Ghana because he was trying to obtain a Schengen visa to be able to travel to Europe to see his son who lives in Italy. “Because of that I obtained a temporary, emergency travel document which is very easy to obtain. That is what I got, that is what I presented to them, that is what they accepted, only for them to say three weeks later that the document was forged. But the document that they presented to me three weeks later was not the same document that I presented the day that I arrived.”
Sadly, Mr. Costa narrated, his signature was forged. “So, instead of the government accusing me of forgery, I am the one saying that the document they presented to me three weeks later, when I was about to leave the country to return to the US was not the same one that I presented to them three weeks earlier when I entered the country.”
Asked why the government would go to such length to entrap him in such a scheme, Mr. Costa pointed to the two successful protests organized by the COP. “Because we’ve organized two of the largest protests in the country on June 7, the Council of Patriots, which I’m chairman of organized the largest peaceful protest in the country to draw the world’s attention to the problems in the country, the corruption, bad governance, the divisiveness of the president, these are the things that are pissing them off. On January 6, we organized yet another peaceful protest and we were attacked by police using water cannons and teargas which was condemned by the international community and the Independent Human Rights Commission. So, the government is angry because we are exposing the corruption, we’re exposing the bad governance and the failing economy which the president is doing nothing to fix. These are the reasons why they are targeting me now.”
The COP leader dismissed suggestion that he is a Trojan Horse for Congau or Americo-Liberian feeling President Weah is unfit to lead Liberia.
Said Mr. Costa: “I belong to the Kpelleh tribe, my tribe is the largest tribe in the country. I’m a Kpelleh man. The President’s tribe is way smaller than my tribe. The issue here is – this is what the President always says, when he flies private jet while people are suffering and then he says, they’re saying these things about me because I’m a country boy without realizing how badly he’s running the country and everybody are concerned, including those who voted for him.”
Mr. Costa said President Weah is living in a bubble and unaware of his rising unpopularity. “He’s extremely unpopular, he runs the country as if it belongs to him, he’s the most divisive president we’ve had, it has nothing to do with his ethnicity, it has everything to do with his bad leadership style, that’s what it’s about. Nothing to do about tribe. He is from Gibralta, an impoverished, downtrodden community, I was born in a village, I’m a country boy myself. We refused to accept the way he’s running the country, it has nothing to do with ethnicity but everything to do with his lack of leadership.”