Liberia: Weah’s Administration Plays Blame Game over Missing Container of Money
Monrovia – The Ministry of Justice has accused the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime of concealing information on the importation of containers and bags of Liberian dollars through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport (RIA) from the George Manneh Weah administration.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Though the Ministry fell short of stating the amount and currency, reports have it that it accumulates up to L$9 billion (US$60 million).
The containers full of money, which was reportedly signed for by staffs of the Central Bank of Liberia and taken out of the port has reportedly gone missing.
The request to enter the port and take delivery of printed materials on March 31, 2018 was reportedly written by Mrs. Mariea E. Grisby-Toe, Director, General Services, Musulyn R.B. Jackson, Oldada Deshield and five others of the CBL, who reportedly took delivery of the container. The container was, however, not taken to the CBL, according to reports.
The brokers were Mr. Lawrence Sirleaf and Ms. Elise G.N. Jolo of JVS Enterprise Inc.
Mrs. Grisby-Toe who is reported to have authorized the removal of the container told FPA that she could not comment as her office was handling to situation to come up with an official statement.
The Ministry of Justice in press statement issued Monday, September 17 confirmed reports that the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have been mandated to investigate the matter.
According to the Justice Ministry, “Initial findings indicate that the containers and bags of moneys arrived between November 2017, prior to the inauguration of the current government, and August 2018.
“Evidence available to the investigative team has established that the current administration was not informed about the bags and containers of money in the country.”
While the government is accusing the past regime of secretly bringing the huge sum of money in the country, it also stands criticized for allowing the containers to leave the port under its watch without properly vetting the containers. Also, the ones that allegedly came in August, there are allegedly no records of it, either.
Big Loss Amid Economic Hardship
At the onset of this government, President Weah told the 54th Legislature that the economy was in dire straits. He blamed the economic hardship on the brokenness of the country’s economy.
After his speech, there were many calls for the new government to disclose the amount of money left in the government’s coffer by the Sirleaf administration – something the government failed to do.
However, many officials of the new government, including the current Speaker, Bhofal Chambers, accused Madam Sirleaf of being responsible for the hardship.
Was Liberian Dollars Printed in Excess?
At a press conference in July this year, Speaker Chambers stated that monetary control in the Liberian economy is seriously challenged by the loose availability of the two Liberian currencies in multiple styles and denominational values.
He said former President Sirleaf in the climaxing days of her presidency created “an economic gulag,” relating to a Soviet-style economic and militarily fashioned scenario, for the purpose for compelling compliance on economic activities.
According to him, the Liberian dollars was printed in huge quantity by President Sirleaf regime and flooded the economy chasing the few United States Dollars coming in the Liberian commerce and trade corridors.
He said the past government was warned of printing new banknotes by the 53rd Legislature and other economic pundits, but President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not listen, thus contributing seriously to the present condition of the Liberian economy.
However, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County slammed that argument, insisting that members of the 53rd Legislature failed to properly inquire about the printing of the new banknotes before authorizing the printing.
“The situation is tense and will continue to get tense. The picture out there is bad. I blame the Legislature because we are responsible for the minting of coins. When we gave the instructions, we did not tell them how much to print,” he said.
Former Ruling Party Calls for Audit
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica on Monday evening, Mohammed Ali, Assistant Secretary General of the former ruling party said, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who served as Information Minister in Sirleaf’s government and maintains the same post in the Weah-led administration should be able to provide explanation for what occurred.
However, Ali added that they as a former ruling party have consistently called on the current regime to conduct an audit of the past government, but the government has refused to heed to their recommendation.
“We got so disappointed when President Weah told us in the meeting with the opposition political parties that he cannot fight corruption because everyone in the country is somehow related,” he said.
Ali added that it is extremely difficult to believe that the Weah-led administration would fail to launch an investigation when the first container arrived since November 2017. “What’s more fascinating is that a second container came in August 2018 under the watch of President Weah and it is missing. But it all boils down to refusal of the government to conduct an audit of the past regime. We as a party are calling on the government conduct a full-scale investigation and make public the outcome of the investigation,” he said.
No Sacred Cow
Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean informed FrontPageAfrica that “There will be no sacred cow. Anyone found culpable will be prosecuted.”
Moses Zangar, who has been following the development on FrontPageAfrica’s website commented, “The money arrived in November 2017 and got missing in March 2018 but the first confirmation by the government for the missing money is in September 2018. I smell a rat.”
He added, “What we are experiencing in Liberia is just a reflection of a society where corruption is celebrated. The extent of aggrandizement and accumulation of wealth that I have observed in Liberia suggests to me that some people are psychologically unsuitable for public office. People are amassing public wealth to a point of madness. Their obsession with stealing is such that they are totally incapable of having any feeling for the millions of other Liberians around them who are bearing the consequences of their action in poverty, deprivation, disease and hopelessness. The container saga is a direct product of that obsession. They loot even to the detriment of those they claim to lead. It’s really unfortunate.”
Elijah Taylor also commented: “Somebody did not get their lion share of this money. This is the reason that this issue has gone public. The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs immediately applied for US$250,000 loan to LBDI to purchase a house when in fact he did not even spend two months in office. It is part of a scheme to use this missing to purchase this house. This loan, if it was ever awarded, has already been paid off. Liberia is in a complete mess.”
Tina Pisco also wrote, “That container was rolled in a big house with fence around it and it was divided. Our Prezo said, we all are interrelated and it would be impossible to fight stealing. He doesn’t want to hurt his people. God dumped Liberia when we started celebrating killers and thieves. So, we are on our own and the devil is providing wisdom to our leaders. We inside meh!”