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“Corkrum Spreads the Web”

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“Corkrum Spreads the Web” – New Democrat: Dampens Dual Citizenship Argument; A Rejoinder

Madam Ellen Corkrum and Mr. Melvin Johnson are under indictment by the government of Liberia for economic crimes allegedly committed in Liberia, while Madam Corkrum served as Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) or the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

They (Corkrum & Johnson) claim innocence “until proven guilty by a court of law”, a legal maxim that is consistent with our, Liberian law. They claim, also, US citizenship, are presently, in the USA and considered “at-large” by the Liberian authorities. Accordingly, the Liberian government submitted request for extradition, according to the Liberian Solicitor-General, “the US Department of Justice acknowledged receipt of the extradition requests . . . on Ms. Ellen Corkrum and . . . Melvin Johnson (New Democrat, December 6, 2013)”.

However, the saga of charges and counter-charges that began with Musa Bility, then Chairman of the LAA Board, Ms. Corkrum, Mr. Johnson and a host of others, also, charged and indicted, continues to muddy the issue of crime & punishment.

According to the New Democrat (New Democrat, December 6, 2013), Madam Corkrum charged that “when we were in Liberia, we discovered corruption in the government . . . we decided to record these corruptions . . . Initially, this was a fight about our personal liberties (apparently, her and Mr. Johnson’s denials and counter- charges), but now it is a cause and a fight about the liberation of the unprivileged in Liberia”.  At this point, Mr. Melvin Johnson added support, “Our beloved nation is unfortunately vastly divided into the ‘haves’, those that support this corrupt government and the rest of the majority population, I am committed to the cause of exposing this government . . . we have been and continue to await this corrupt government extradition attempts, so far, to no avail”.

Continuing, according to the New Democrat, Madam Corkrum said that she “told the Costa Show that she and (Mr. Melvin) Johnson have approached the US Department of State that they (Corkrum & Johnson) were in possession of the scandalous tapes and that the 300 pages (are) of proofs that the indictment and announced extradition plans was a ‘HOAX’ by the government of Liberia”.

Nationalist Convictions

With such profound, nationalist and patriotic convictions, expressed commitment to a Cause, indeed, against public dishonesty and moral decadence – corruption – the very, same crime with which the pair is charged, and the absolute certainty that ‘this indictment and extradition was or are a hoax’, the proper, reasonable approach, in our view, will be and, in fact, is:

a) Secure a reputable attorney with international, practice and experience.
b) Prepare a comprehensive defense – evidence, the tapes as proof of government’s intentions, etc., etc.
c) Surrender to the jurisdiction of the Liberian Court of Law and submit to and demand an open, free, fair and transparent trial by a jury of “your peers”, being Liberian citizens.
d) Clear and regain your character (with certainty of innocence); this approach will provide an excellent, unquestionable foundation to embark upon and pursue the “Cause”.

But, Rather

Madam Ellen Corkrum and Mr. Melvin Johnson “approached” the US Department of State with tapes allegedly implicating the government of Liberia in corruption, the same crime for which they are now under indictment. But, the US Department of State is not a court of law and, even, if it were, it would lack jurisdiction to intervene, because the crime charged was committed not in USA territory, but in Liberia. Then there are the radio talk shows – the “Costa” and the Monrovia’s “Hot FM Show – to which the pair exposed the recordings. From these escapades, it is reasonable to conclude the following that:

1.  Government of Liberia is morally decadent; a questionable judicial system; and that the charges are false and politically-motivated and, therefore, request the US Justice Department through the Department of State, to deny the extradition of its (US) citizens, as they are, to such a country and government.
2.  The wide-circulation and press reports of the tapes, both here in Liberia, and the USA have negative impact:

a)  Prejudice the interests of the indicted persons, including Madam Corkrum and Mr. Johnson (a possibility about which “Judge” Johnson and, therefore, a lawyer, knows or should know). But the pair could care less, because, as US citizens, it is highly unlikely for them to be extradited to Liberia, in the light of the facts of past history.

b)  It is, in fact, because of this possible, negative impact – prejudice the interests of the accused – that the Liberian Court of Law placed a stop order on further publications of the tapes, since the case is sub judici (the Stop Order is now interpreted, wrongly or rightly, as a “Gag Order” based on one’s accepted’ public policy perspectives).

In the light of the foregoing, we are not persuaded nor is there any evidence provided by the Pair to convince us of their expressed “commitment to a Cause – to expose corruption”, amoral decadence about which they stand, legally accused – but hide behind dual citizenship of Liberia and the USA to avoid or escape trial.

We argue, reasonably, that this high-profiled Case is an example of Public dishonesty – Corruption – allegedly committed by individuals who are dual citizens duly attracted, employed and highly-paid by government because of their excellent, relevant training/experience, but escaped to their second country to avoid trial, dampens the argument for adoption of legalized dual citizenship in Liberia.

A local newspaper had the following to say about dual citizens and dual citizenship activities recently, in Liberia:

“We see such declaration as clues to the possibility that many top officials in government possess dual citizenships before being imported for their jobs.

Non-commitment to patriotism by some Liberians now believed to be in possession of American citizenship despite being considered as Liberians exiled in the diaspora before they were imported for top government jobs with huge salaries, resettlement and other benefits to the disadvantage of qualified others who were not opportune to leave the country during the war constrains us to suggest the need to verify and document Liberians with dual citizenships.

Perhaps it was in apparent frustration over the embarrassment and disappointment caused for President Sirleaf by many of those she invited from America and appointed in top positions, when she recently accused some officials of using money made in Liberia to buy and build homes in America and elsewhere instead of building ‘not even a kitchen in their native counties.’  There is persistent public outcry that most of these officials create avenues to travel on government business to America instead of using the sophistication of the Internet to perform their jobs here. But the cunning idea is that performing their jobs this way will deprive them the luxury of visiting their families, whose support and livelihood are earned in Liberia, which they all deem too unsafe and dangerous to return.

Employees of some ministries often complain about administrative stagnation because of prolonged foreign travels by their ministers and all deputies, leaving junior ministers whose signatures are not authorized to run the affairs of their ministries. They also complain that some ministers create artificial need for foreign travels in competition with their colleagues in their avarice for per-iderms to take to their families in America, who are, of course, Americans. Such lack of patriotism with consequential financial improprieties depicts the level of their commitment to scrupulous implementation of government programs and policies.

They no doubt copy from their counterparts in key and influential positions here since 2006, but in reality live in America while making decisions affecting Liberians in Liberia.

Here the Liberian government has a crucially embarrassing case seeking the extradition of American citizen and pilot in the US Army, Ms. Ellen C. Cockrum, indicted for financial crimes. It is undeniable that the government knew Ms. Cockrum’s citizenship status before she was hired managing director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA). So failure to have her extradited will be an Achilles heels. Many Liberian citizens including Ms. Cockrum, who are returned home only for lucrative jobs, have refused to renounce their American citizenship, thus qualifying them to have rights and obligations under the laws of both countries.

Therefore, this stark embarrassment for government leads us to suggest that the Liberian Government seek a way out by ascertaining the names of Liberian officials who also enjoy genuine citizenship of the United States of America while having nothing to lose here should their decisions, actions and inactions go awry.

Such a revelation, if the State Department has no laws prohibiting it, will help Liberians immensely to scrutinize even presidential and legislative candidates darting from America to test their political strength during elections.

There can be no time other than now for many Liberians to stop and seriously believe that many government officials are on the job primarily for huge pecuniary benefits they enjoy, because as American citizens their allegiance lies foremost in Washington, D.C., some 8,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, where they can quickly fly for protection as soon as hints of their dishonest deeds begin to emerge.

This is why we continue to press for prompt legal settlement of the dual citizenship debate in the interest of all Liberians. The sooner, the better.”

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