Liberia: Alexander Cummings Urges Journalists to Seek Answers to Dangling Questions in L$16 Billion Saga


Monrovia – For the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberia cannot afford at this point in time to shove revelations of the reported missing billions of Liberian dollar banknotes under the carpet, urging journalists to demand answers that bring harmony to the confusion.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

According to him, a strong and independent media that monitors those in power and provides accurate information helps voters to hold corrupt politicians to account.

The opposition political leader referenced the recent L$16 billion which was reported missing by the government and then suddenly announced that the money was in the Central Bank vaults.

“We will depend on you, journalists, to follow up on this story so that the government provides answers to questions that demand answers: who ordered the printing of the missing money? How much exactly was printed? Where was it printed? Who took charge of the money once it entered the country? Did it go through the proper channels and processes at the Central Bank before being injected into the official money supply?” Cummings asked.

In the presence of scores of Liberian journalists and the Minister of Information, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Cummings wondered the motivation behind the conflicting accounts given by the government regarding the reported missing containers of money. 

Cummings: “How is it that at one point the government can tell us that millions of dollars is missing and identify individuals who are under investigation for the missing money, but yet at another point the government through its Finance Minister and the Central Bank Governor can announce that there is no money missing?  Which version is true?  Does this suggest a cover-up at the very highest levels of government? Is the missing money the result of incompetence or outright thievery or both by government officials?

Cummings lamented that despite various reports of corruption on past government, there hasn’t been one with so high a scale like the L$16 billion saga. “The literal disappearance of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars that belong to the Liberian people, if there’s nothing that defines corruption, this is it,” he said.

In addition to tackling corruption, the 2017 presidential candidate said journalist much provide information that allows the public to evaluate public policies. 

In this attempt to address some of the concerns raised by Cummings, Information Minister Nagbe said former President Sirleaf ordered the printing of L$10 billion just few months to elections but insisted that the new administration was never briefed by the former Governor of the Central Bank.

According to him, the government would later determine whether the amount was printed within the ambit of the law.

Min. Nagbe said despite the announcement provided by the Central Bank that no money got missing, the Government of Liberia would continue with the investigation and the Central Bank remains a subject of investigation.

“Our position is that moneys were printed and brought in the country, we have launched an investigation to account how it came in, how it went into the vault and everything. The Central Bank itself is a focus of the investigation; if I’m being investigated I have to give my side of the story so the Central Bank says ‘As far as we are concern, there’s no money missing’, that doesn’t preclude the investigation from going to its logical conclusion. The investigation will continue, we’ll avail ourselves to the public, we’ll make the investigation transparent and, in the end, the Liberian people will see all the facts,” he said.

According to Min. Nagbe, under the new democratic environment in Liberia, the government is not the threat to press freedom, freedom of speech and freedom to political expression. He said, “The new threats to freedom speech includes the concerted efforts by some political actors, particularly those in the opposition interfering with policies of media entities, thereby transforming them not to follow the rules but to remain instruments not to further the good of the society, but to remain instruments to advance selfish and pecuniary political gains and political interest.”

He urged the media to maintain a high degree of independence given their role as a watchdog of society and medium through which the government and its people communicate.

He said shirking the responsibility of being independent and selling out to politicians is by itself a threat to free media in Liberia.

“Media controlled by political forces whose interest may be averse to the national interest is a creeping menace that must be stopped,” he said.