Liberia: Ring Man in Costa’s Laissez Passer ‘Scandal’ Arrested

Monie Hooke Momolu, the former Foreign Ministry’s employee in the center of Henry Costa’s Laissez-Passer investigation

Monrovia – FrontPageAfrica has been reliably informed that Mr. Monie Hooke Momolu, the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, who it is alleged that he fraudulently obtained the emergency travelling document that Mr. Henry Pedro Costa used to enter into Liberia on December 19, 2019, has been arrested and is in Police custody.

Liberia National Police spokesman Moses Carter later confirmed to this newspaper that he indeed he was being sought after since his name surfaced in the allegation that he obtained the document that Costa did travel on to Liberia.

“We have been making efforts to get him since then. We didn’t know where he was; but he knows that he was going to be caught so he decided to turn himself in. He had promised to do so willingly by 10 a.m. today. However, he came in by this afternoon; so we now have him in our custody and he is now being interrogated,” Mr. Carter disclosed.

Costa and Laissez Passer

Costa had arrived in Liberia on December 19, 2019 from Accra, Ghana, and presented to Immigration officers at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) a laissez passer, which they stamped and allowed him entry into the country.

However, after nearly three weeks of being in the country, Costa, who is the Chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), was told by the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) that the document he had used to enter Liberia was forged.

The COP leader, who had organized two of the largest anti-government protests in recent history, had attempted leaving the country on Friday, January 10, when he was accosted that the traveling document had used to enter the country was unauthentic and had been forged. 

However, Costa has since denied such claims from the Government of Liberia, through the LIS, which launched an investigation and declared Costa a fugitive when he didn’t appear for subsequent investigations.

“We have been making efforts to get him since then. We didn’t know where he was; but he knows that he was going to be caught so he decided to turn himself in. He had promised to do so willingly by 10 a.m. today. However, he came in by this afternoon; so we now have him in our custody and he is now being interrogated.”

Mr. Moses Carter, Spokesman, Liberia National Police

When Costa first appeared at the LIS the next day after he was denied leaving the country, he had written a statement in which he told the officers that since he was not in Liberia to apply for the traveling document himself, he sent US$20 to Mr. Sylvester Tevez Nah, an employee of his. He said it was him (Tevez, who has since resigned from Costa’s company), who had obtained the document and sent it to him (Costa) so he couldn’t have known if it was forged. He also argued that he had been in the country more than three weeks why didn’t the LIS accost him. He even counter-argued that the document the LIS boss had shown to him when appeared at the LIS headquarters wasn’t the same one that he had presented to them when he arrived on December 19, 2019.

More fuel was added to the drama when on early Wednesday, January 15, it was reported that Costa had been arrested on Tuesday in neighboring Sierra Leone by that country’s government and would be repatriated and handed over to the Liberian authority on Wednesday afternoon.

Costa was obviously allowed to continue his journey to the US but one of his accomplices, Sylvester Tevez Nah, who and Costa allegedly fled the country and entered Sierra Leone “illegally,” reportedly phoned the LIS boss, Col. Robert Budy, that he was coming back to turn himself in “voluntarily”. 

A source close to the LIS and Tevez, who was the GOL’s prime suspect in the laissez passer investigation, told this newspaper that when Costa was held by the Sierra Leonean authority, he (Tevez) got confused and in that state of mind, phoned the LIS boss that he was coming back to Liberia to turn himself him.

“True to his words, Tevez willingly came back and was received at the Liberia-Sierra Leone Bo Waterside border by the LIS [Grand] Cape Mount [County] Commander, who brought him straight to Monrovia and handed him over to the LIS Commissioner,” our source, who asked not to be named, said. 

This source further stated that on the evening that Tevez and his wife arrived back, Col. Budy bought them a new mattress and didn’t allow them to be placed inside the cell but were allowed to pass the night in the conference room of the BIN and on the next day, Col. Budy treated them nicely again by providing food and other amenities before beginning the investigation. 

According to our source, Tevez had told them the role he allegedly played in the process leading to Costa obtaining the laissez passer now at the center of controversy. 

“He told the LIS investigation team that what Costa had said about him in his (Costa) statement was false. According to him, when the work was done, Costa sent him to one Foreign Ministry employee by the name of Monie Hooke Momolu, who handed the document to him in an enclosed brown envelope, up Broad Street around the United Bank for Africa’s premises. He said he recognized the picture on the document was the identical passport-sized photo he (Tevez) had presented to the same fellow (Momolu) sometime ago on the Capitol Hill campus of the University of Liberia,” our source said. 

This source further stated that Tevez told the investigation that he had handed the document over to one lady (name not given) whom Costa had told him to deliver it to and that was his role played in the whole process. It later turned out that the lady in question is the wife of Bethel World Outreach Bishop Wolo Belleh.

“He said he just dropped it with this lady and never asked her for name or information as she was on her way to the States the next day.”

This source said the document, which is short-lived, might have been done sometime in November 2019 but was post-dated to fit in time with Costa’s arrival in December 2019.