PERSON OF INTEREST: TO LIST OR NOT TO LIST, IS NOT THE QUESTION OF EVIDENCE BUT A MATTER OF CONVENIENCE
By Amara M. Kamara
The relevance of Amara Konneh to AIRReT is phenomenal but for very awful reasons. Out of nearly 50 people, AIRRET has made significant airwaves with no other person as it seems no one else is particularly crucial to its mission than Amara Konneh, former Minister of Finance and Development Planning. This is not by coincidence but rather by design and desire of the Special Counsel, Arthur Johnson.
WILL ARTHUR JOHNSON DELIST AMARA KONNEH
To list or not list isn’t the question of whether Arthur Johnson has any evidence to delist Amara Konneh. Instead, it is the matter of convenience–the kind of convenience that is derived from misapplying state resources not just to make a point but to also purloin more funds from the meager government coffers.
For us to demonstrate how important Amara Konneh is to AIRRET and why Arthur Johnson continues to insist on using the “Person of Interest” listing to siphon 2.1 million dollars out of the government, let’s explore, for a moment, a scenario where Amara Konneh is delisted from AIRRET. To help understand why Arthur Johnson may not delist Amara Konneh, consider an AIRRET without Mr Konneh, and then think through what becomes of Arthur Johnson:
- In the instance that Amara Konneh is delisted from AIRRET, the entire asset recovery process may cease to be relevant. You know by now that Arthur Johnson is particular about relevance. The basis for this is simple: there is a generally held narrative in the Weah Administration that the past government “did nothing” in its 12 years rule.
That narrative, despite its erroneous premise and generalization, was held by those who are now in government; and it remains the source of the driving anger and blame-shifting tendency of the Weah
Administration. One person that is perceived as an embodiment or symbol of the Sirleaf administration, an administration that is being blamed and frequently referenced by Weah government officials to be responsible for Weah’s current woes, is Amara Konneh although he only served 4 out of the 12 years. Arthur Johnson believes that delisting Amara Konneh would effectively kill his career after already ripping the government out of money for the Sable Mining probe but ended up losing the case.
- A delisted Amara Konneh would neither give Arthur Johnson the attributes and attention he craves nor would Arthur Johnson have the appeal that resonates with the president’s camp. Additionally, an AIRRET scenario without Amara Konneh wouldn’t give the relevance that Arthur Johnson needs for the Weah Administration, the same administration that Arthur fought against recently in the Justice Kabineh Janneh’s Impeachment case, to show that it is ready to fight with former officials of the Sirleaf Administration.
- A delisted Amara Konneh from Arthur Johnson’s list is not a win for Pres. Weah. As you are aware, Weah too, is keen on winning and fixated on being right. Arthur Johnson would become immediately irrelevant if he doesn’t give in to promoting Weah’s appetite on this issue. Regardless of the available daylight evidence, Arthur Johnson deliberately refuses to delist Amara Konneh not only because Arthur has an ulterior motive but also because he doesn’t want be known for losing: Janneh Impeachment case, and the Sable Mining Case are classic examples.
- A delisted Amara Konneh means a reduction in Pres. Weah’s already diminishing political capital. There are talks of Amara Konneh’s political ambition in Gbarpolu, a county that Weah won in 2017, and might now be sidelined by an emerging favorite (Amara Konneh) of the county. Knowing this scenario, should Amara Konneh be delisted, Arthur Johnson would have failed at delivering the political mandate for which he was selected especially if his delisting of Amara Konneh contributes to further reduction of Weah’s political capital than adding to it.
- An AIRRET without Amara Konneh listed would neither give the Weah Administration the truckload of blames it needs to shift responsibilities for the skyrocketing exchange rates to the Sirleaf Administration nor the laundry list of justifications to give as reasons for the wartime hardship resulting from the Weah Administration’s own failed fiscal and monetary policies.
- An AIRRET without Amara Konneh wouldn’t gain traction on the international front, something that Arthur Johnson really wants, not to mention obtaining the 2.1 million budget he needs so badly from the country’s meagre resources. Without Amara Konneh, Arthur Johnson’s effort at his new gig would stay local regardless of how many more names of overseas people it publishes.
ABSURDITY FUELED BY FASCINATION
Arthur Johnson seems to recognize his fascination with Amara Konneh and the relevance Amara Konneh adds to his crusade. Arthur realizes that the louder the drumbeat of accusations, the longer he stays in the news; and so he continues to double down with even more accusations that seem to implicate the entirety of the Sirleaf Administration by singling out Amara Konneh.
The allegations are so absurdly wild that what Amara Konneh has been accused of cannot be possible without nearly the entire government being in on the alleged acts. For example, to steal the equivalent of Liberia’s entire fiscal budget ($500 million and LD 1 billion in domestic debt payments), a few things will have to have occurred: apart from the government shutting down for one entire year because the fiscal budget for that year was stolen, every safeguard connected to the Consolidated Account where the funds are kept at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) will have to be in agreement to steal an entire year budget.
To appreciate the magnitude of the science fiction genre of Arthur Johnson’s accusation, consider a few facts: the Consolidated Account requires more than a dozen signatures before funds are released; in addition to separate “checkpoint” systems set through CBL verification apparatus, including DMC approval, and checks and balances systems by nearly thirty (30) disbursement officers, auditors, and CBL compliance officers.
That is not all. For the accusation against Mr. Konneh to be possible, (1) the entire financial systems, fiscal and monetary infrastructure must have failed; (2) everyone at GAC must have also failed given that GAC’s audits between 2012 and 2016 and onwards didn’t identify any countrywide system lapses that would have made the alleged act possible, and (3) in addition to these systems and people failures, there must have existed a year, during Amara Konneh’s four (4) years as a minister, wherein the government was shut down due to heist of that year’s fiscal budget.
ARTHUR JOHNSON NEEDS AMARA KONNEH FOR A PRIZE
I have gone through all of the GAC’s reports on Amara Konneh. Hon. Konneh is not on Arthur Johnson’s list because any GAC audit reports between 2012 and 2016 referenced or linked Amara Konneh to any financial or economic crime or any impropriety for that matter. The GAC reports of Amara Konneh’s 4 years are available at GAC’s website (https://www.gac.gov.lr/reports.php). But Amara Konneh is the prize.
Not only that Amara Konneh is perceived as an easy target, his superstar role as a change agent in the Sirleaf Administration is hard to ignore. Additionally, the emphasis on Amara Konneh appeals to the widely held narrative of the Weah Administration and followers. This is why it is not surprising when Arthur Johnson accused Hon. Konneh of nearly all that he (Arthur Johnson) believes allegedly went wrong in the Sirleaf Administration: 4.6 billion allegedly going missing, 1 billion Liberian dollars allegedly stolen in domestic debt payment, 500 million allegedly stolen, and 13 million diverted.
These accusations against Amara Konneh represent the highest incrimination of a single person in the history of asset recovery in the world. Arthur Johnson’s vigor and choreographed public campaign associated with these accusations make it seems not only as though he knows what he’s talking about but also makes him appear as if he’s serious about holding anyone else responsible other than Amara Konneh for the 12 years rule of the Sirleaf Administration. Now that you know the reasons why Arthur Johnson may not delist Amara Kamara, I believe these very reasons should serve as a catalyst for law abiding Liberians to call on the government to restore confidence and integrity to the AIRRET process; and should consider utilizing corroborating evidence instead of convenience in enlisting people as suspects or persons of interest in relations to corruption.