Passport Fraud: What Would Washington Do to The Mafia Regime in Liberia?
The ruling class in Washington does not oppose corruption in Africa if it does not pose a grave threat to its economic and security interests. US-Africa relations are very tolerant of corruption on the continent. Suffice this to mean that US imperialism emboldens and rides on the corruption of the comprador African political elite to mortgage Africa’s mineral and oil wealth to US multinationals; impose its economic policies through the IMF, World Bank and WTO; extend its geopolitical tentacles through military occupations; dictate the roles of African states in global governance, etc.
By Moses Uneh Yahmia, [email protected], Contributing Writer
Africa has suffered decades of infamy, brute exploitation, cultural alienation, hunger, poverty and poor cognition among its people. This is as a result of the policies (political and economic) implemented by the alliance of western imperialism and the postcolonial African lackeys who facilitated the re-conquest of the continent by western financial interest. The anti-colonial and revolutionary scholar Frantz Fanon aptly analyzed this betrayal of the African people by the African bourgeoisie in the chapter titled: “Pitfalls of National Consciousness” in his tour de force the “Wretched of the Earth”.
Progressive African leaders such as Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sankara, Samora Machel, etc. who opposed US and European imperialist arrogance by implementing socioeconomic reforms to change the lot of the African masses were overthrown, sanctioned or assassinated. Robert Mugabe was a darling boy of Western Imperialism and was lavished with honorary degrees from Ivy League universities until he elected to implement a land reform, which expropriated farmlands from white farmers and redistributed them among African peasants by the turn of the 21st Century. Gaddafi was a tool of Western imperialism until he nationalized the Libyan oil industry and posed a threat to the dominance of the US dollars with his push for a single African currency backed by African gold.
Taylor enjoyed the good graces of the West and was in their good books until he undermined British imperialist interests in West Africa with his support for Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF). But the most objectionable African despots and corrupt buffoons like Mobuto, Bokkasa, Blaise Compoare, Tubman and the contemporary apologists who presided over the continent’s descent into neocolonial dependency enjoyed the support of Washington and its allies despite these misleaders’ sordid records of terror and corruption. Of course, the support was justified as long as they remained obedient bellboys of international finance capital!
The neocolonial subjugation of the continent and its people continues as almost every African state is a valet of western imperialism. There are no more contested and liberated zones. African countries are enemy-held zones where the economies are tied to foreign financial interests while the African masses live on the margins of society. Insofar as the continent is kept as the weakest chain of global capitalism, imperialism cares less about what the African political elite does with the public treasury. Reports of rampant corruption are used by the western media to paint a grim picture of post-colonial governance in Africa and obscure the exploitation of Africa’s wealth by foreign monopoly capital as opposed to aiding the African masses to weed out the menace.
Hence, I do not agree with those who argue that the public designation of ex director of Passports and Visa services Andrew Wanplo by the US State Department which bars him and his family from travelling to the US, is an honest effort at buttressing the fight against corruption in Liberia. If the US were honest about the fight against corruption in Liberia or Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wouldn’t be an international celebrity who has prestigious international awards to her name, and has established herself in the cycle of the global elite. George Weah would have long been exposed by the US.
US Intelligence is privy to information about the sources of the funds Weah has used to build his condominiums, purchased a private jet and morphed into a multimillionaire while the Liberian economy lies in tatters. They have records of money laundering and illicit financial flows orchestrated by officials of this and erstwhile governments. These reports are kept as trump cards and not as reliance to sanction corrupt official and retrieve wealth stolen from the Liberian people. For example, the USAID funded report on the 16billion scandal was redacted and before its release, the US Embassy announced on its website that no money went missing even though the report redacted report pointed out discrepancies and the possibility of money laundering and misappropriation of newly printed bank notes. The Weah government has since relied on the US Embassy release to debunk any argument about the 16billion scandal. After the release of the report, the government agreed to an IMF austerity prone program.
We believe that Mr Andrew Wanplo is on the radar of the US government because he allegedly sold and issued Liberia’s diplomatic passports to individuals on the US’s terror watch list. The alleged action of Mr Wonplo threatens to compromise the US immigration system and undermine the US war on drugs and its so-called war on terror which was waged against radical Islamic extremist groups after the 9/11 terror attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The attacks caused the lives of over 3000 Americans and the loss of more than 100billion worth of property. This could be the only reason for which sanction on a low key official of the government of an impoverished African country was not announced by either the US Ambassador or the Under Secretary for African Affairs but Mike Pompeo – the man who leads the US foreign policy agenda.
Mr Andrew Wanplo was dismissed in August 2019 and charged with passport fraud by the Liberian government. But he was let off the hook by the court when the Justice Ministry failed to provide evidence to prove the claims made by the government against the former Director of Passport and Visa Services. He was re-indicted days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the public designation which barred Mr Wanplo, his spouse and children from entering the US. Mr Wanplo allegedly fled the country and has been speaking to the Liberian public from his hideout.
In a press release issued on September 21, 2020, Mr Wanplo disclosed that “The government, led by President George Weah, through a committee, directed the issuance of privileged passports (i.e diplomatic or service) to non-Liberians obtaining privileged opportunities from the chief executive (i.e President of Liberia) either being appointed as honorary counsels or individuals being honoured by the government of Liberia during the tenure of his Presidency.” Wanplo named the following people who instructed him to issue diplomatic passports to non-Liberians in the name of the President: Gbenzohngar Milton Findley (Former Foreign Minister), Nora Finda Bondo (Chief of Protocol), Nathaniel Falo McGill (Minister of State and Presidential Affairs), Trokon Kpui (Minister without Portfolio), and James Emanuel Potter (Assistant Minister of Logistics, MOS).
When Andrew was dismissed as Director of Passport and Visa Services and forwarded to court for prosecution, we concluded that the move by the government, despite the media hype it created, in no way shows the political will to fight corruption. Corruption is the forte of the Weah administration. That is why every anti-graft institution has been undermined and weakened. For example, the president has refused to dismiss the chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, although it has been proven that he obtained fraudulent naturalization documents through the corrupt judiciary system.
The president has also failed to implement audit reports that implicate members of his cabinet. Thus, we suspected that Andrew had come in the crosshair of Mr Weah and henchmen by either depriving them of the spoils of the fraudulent passport scheme or he has hurt the interest of the criminal cartel in some other ways. In a 33min narrative which he recently released to the public, Wanplo disclosed that he was dismissed and accused of illegally trading Liberian diplomatic passport because he opposed the government’s decision to cancel the passport printing contract with Buck Press and award it to another company call OESD.
According to him, he elected to oppose the decision because it would have not only compromised the current biometric system but also caused the country more than US$5million. He asserted that every attempt to lure him proved futile. Thus, the only option for Mr Weah and his hawks was to have him dismissed and prosecuted on trumped-up charges as the deal with OESD opens vistas of opportunities for the cartel to trade more diplomatic passports to individuals with questionable characters and racket about US$300,000.00 weekly.
In the September 21 release, Wanplo sent out this clarion call to the US government and the international community: “To the United States Government, through the US Department of State, I, Andrew Wanplo, am willing to come to the US Embassy near Monrovia to provide further information contained in this press release and any other information the State Department may need. My life and the lives of families and close friends are not safe with the current government in Liberia. This is also an SOS call to ECOWAS and the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR)!”
Would the US State Department invite Mr Wonplo at the US embassy to have him release pieces of information that he has on the sale of diplomatic passports to terrorists, narco-kingpins, traffickers and criminals? If Wanplo pieces of evidence proved authentic, would the US State Department also designate those who are implicated? Or would Wanplo endure his actions while others like Mr Weah, Mr Findley, and Mr McGill are left with impunity because they have mortgaged the management of the country’s economy to the IMF, World Bank, USAID, etc. to continue the subjugation of the economy to the neoliberal capitalist rulebook that has for decades condemned the Liberian people to untold misery?
The Liberian masses have to exorcise this illusion that a foreign power would rescue them from the atrocities of the repressive black fascist regime in Liberia. Foreign policy in big power politics always focuses on the national interests of the big nations and the national interests of the big powers are always at odds with the interests of the world’s poor. The Liberian masses wear the scars of injustice and oppression. They have been beaten and battered by decades of poverty and deprivation. Thus, they must take matters into their hands to make their own history. For who else is more capable of making the history of a nation in a protagonist way except a courageous, united and committed people mobilizing from below to shine the light of a new republic influencing a new folkway, a new culture and a new consciousness? The people and only the people!