Editorial: The handling of official Liberian Diplomatic Passports under the Weah administration is found wanting in all respects, as what supposed to be a sacred document is being treated as toilet tissue in the hands of hard-core criminals and fraudsters, bringing reproach to the Republic.
The latest case reportedly involves arrest of a well-known Liberian businessman in America for alleged wire fraud totaling more than US$7 million. Suspect Sheik Bassirou Kante is said to have close ties with Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
Perhaps what is most disgraceful of the situation is that Sheik Kante, who does not work for the Liberian government carries a Liberian Diplomatic Passport in his alleged criminal activities, presenting himself as a diplomat from Liberia.
This raises more questions than answers: How did he obtain a Liberian Diplomatic Passport? Who issued it to him? Is VP Taylor aware and how long has he been dubiously carrying this diplomatic passport, plying his trade of crime? These could be some questions the public may seek answers to.
But then the issue of Liberian Diplomatic Passports getting in the hands of deviants is not new. In September 2020, former United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo under the Trump administration barred former Liberian passport director Andrew Wonplo and his immediate family from traveling to the America “due to his involvement in significant corruption” related to passport fraud that undermined the rule of law, reduced the Liberian public’s faith in the current government’s management of identification and travel documents, and compromised the integrity and security of immigration processes.
Investigators’ probe into the scandal at the time resulted in charges brought against Wonplo and a Nigerian defendant Adedoyin Emmanuel Atiro who purported to a Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs authority and awarded travel opportunities and received money from his victims.
In this latest case according to FrontPageAfrica, Sheik Kante, commonly known in Liberia as Royal Gold, was picked up at his home in the United States on April 20 and subsequently charged with money laundering conspiracy a few hours before his scheduled departure from Dulles International Airport in Washington to the United Arab Emirates.
What is even more disgusting is that those illegally carrying Liberian Diplomatic Passports usually have links with senior Liberian government officials such as in this case, VP Taylor, which leaves room for suspicions.
While Suspect Kante is under U.S. custody, facing interrogation, the Vice President of Liberia must do everything immediately to exonerate herself or to say how much she knows about the Diplomatic Passport in the hands of an ordinary Liberian businessman to whom she allegedly has ties.
This is important not only for the personal integrity of the Vice President, who Liberians hold in very high esteem but for the image of this administration and the entire country.