In Missing 16 bn: Journalists to be investigated

In an angry response to protests and incessant reportage against alleged missing 16 billion Liberian Dollars bank notes, President George Manneh Weah announces that  journalists will also be included in the investigation surrounding the money issue.

“There will be international people, we have our international partners, the  journalists, the information that they got that 16 billion lost, nine billion lost,  they’re going to join these people to make sure that what they’re saying is right,”  President Weah says at a thanksgiving service organized upon his arrival on Sunday,  30 September from the UN General Assembly.

“So those journalists that said that 16 billion lost and nine billion lost, they also going to be in the investigation,” President Weah says amidst cheers from  supporters at the Dominion Christian Fellowship in Congo Town.

Still on journalists, President Weah says it’s sad because “just the other day”  government was trying to sign law decriminalizing free speech, arguing that such  right doesn’t mean they can say something to damage the country.

“We [are] going to bring them to the investigation so they can tell us where the 16  billion go,” he continues.

He tells the public that he is requesting international forensic experts, the FBI  and ECOWAS to help to ascertain if it is true or not, that money is missing here.

He says if it is established that money is actually missing, those involved will be  given the opportunity to return it, or face prosecution if they fail to bring back  the money.

According to President Weah, it’s a shame he had to be explaining to his  counterparts at the UN General Assembly on this alleged missing 16 billion matter  that caused protests both back home and in New York while he prepared to address the  UN.

In what may be his first public reaction since the alleged 16 billion issue broke out here, Mr. Weah explains that while he was in the Senate during the 53rd  Legislature, there is no record on the book showing that he ever signed for the  first and second resolutions to print the controversial money.

“And you know we’re quick to forget. You forget to know that this issue, I was  Senator before. And there’s record on the book that even the money, the first money  that was allocated, I refused to sign,” he explains.

For the second resolution, he also says whether legitimate or not, some of his  colleagues signed, but he refused to sign it again.

President Weah notes that his refusal to sign for the printing of money was not   intended to suffer Liberians, but he found that nearing campaign and elections, it was not the right time to print money to replace mutilated banknotes.

He argues further that about eight months in office, his pro – poor government has  not written the Legislature to request for money to come into this country. But he frowns against protesters’ calling on the international community to place a  sanction against his administration pending the outcome of the investigation of the
alleged missing money.

He wonders why the protesters did not call for international sanctions against the  “government that was in power that had the right to print money” but are seeking  sanctions against his regime that has not printed money yet.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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