Liberia: Two Dismissed at Foreign Ministry and House of Representatives over Diplomatic Passport Scandal

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MONROVIA – A FrontPageAfrica investigation has uncovered an alleged passport scandal involving staff of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Legislature which has led to their dismissals.

FrontPageAfrica discovered that a protocol staff of the House of Representatives, Nyumah Siafia, and a staff to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Henry Fahnbulleh,  Roland Stephen solicited cash from a Liberian (name undisclosed) with a promise to issue him diplomatic passport.

Minister Fahnbulleh confirmed the information and said the staff involved, Roland Stephen, has been dismissed. According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, Stephen and Siafia received US$700.00 from an individual introduced to them by Representative P. Mike Jurry of Maryland County.

“I sanctioned the investigation and he’s been dismissed. Nobody can acquire diplomatic passport by bribing their way through,” Minister Fahnbulleh said.

According to sources, the incident was reported to Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemeyah who launched an investigation into the matter. His investigation established that the complaint was factual.

At the Legislature, Speaker Bhofal Chambers was also requested to investigate Mr. Siafia, and according to reports he (Siafia) has also been dismissed.

When contacted via text message House Speaker Bhofal Chambers referred this paper to Representative Johnson Gwaikolo who also referred this paper to Jayflay Saydee, head of human resource, who has not responded to text messages of inquiries.

The history of passport scandal

 In 2020, the Liberian National police arrested 11 persons including Liberia’s former Director of Passport and Visas Andrew D. Wonplo, ordered arrested by the Criminal Court “C” based on their indictment for alleged illegal sales of Liberian Passports to non – Liberians, depriving government of thousands of US Dollars.

Madam Sory was detained Thursday, 17 September at the Monrovia Central Prison after being taken before the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in relation to the indictment.

The scandal caused the government to lost over US$30,000 through illegal sales of Liberian passports to non – Liberians, as well as people looking for space to travel to the United States and Canada who were willing to pay as much as US$2,000 each for a Liberian Passport.

Nationals of Nigeria and Ghana are among those named in a long list of persons who allegedly had a role in the passport scandal in which Liberian officials at the Passport Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly sold the nation’s vital travel documents to non – Liberians for amounts not authorized by government.

Ahead of the government of Liberia decision, the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo earlier announced on 10 September the public designation of Liberia’s former Director of Passport and Visas Andrew Wonplo, “due to his involvement in significant corruption,” making Wonplo and his immediate family members ineligible for entry into the United States.

Under Section 7031(c) of the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020, once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

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