‘Liberia not for sale’, CENTAL warns government over Passport scandal
By Lewis S Teh
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has urged President George Manneh Weah and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to maintain the integrity and sanity of the Liberian passport for the good of the country, warning the government that “Liberia [is] not for sale.”
“Liberia not for sale, and we caution the Weah administration to desist from despicable acts that rob Liberians of their heritage because of a few pieces of silver,” Mr. Anderson Miamen, Executive Director of CENTAL, said during a press conference in Sinkor Thursday, 12 May 2022.
Quoting a local daily’s report in Monrovia, Mr. Miamen said Liberian businessman Sheik Bassirou Kante is undergoing trial in the U.S. for money laundering conspiracy and was denied bail over several concerns, including possession of a Liberian diplomatic passport.
He said there have been multiple cases reported about the alleged continuous sale of Liberian Passports (ordinary, official, and diplomatic) to undeserving and unscrupulous individuals for probable dubious business dealings and other clandestine purposes.
Miamen indicated that the U.S. also denied Mr. Kante bail, citing his ‘deep personal relationship’ with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard – Taylor.
He said it was reported that Mr. Kante, alias Royal Gold, who is being tried for wire fraud amounting to US$ 7 Million, admitted to occupying no formal diplomatic position in the Liberian Government.
The CENTAL Executive Director said the latest passport scandal speaks to many things including gross vulnerability of the system and the process for awarding passports – ordinary, official, and diplomatic.
Miamen narrated that the level of commitment required from the Presidency and the Legislature to thoroughly and independently investigate these matters as well as fully support institutions statutorily mandated to do so is very limited.
He also blamed the situation on weak leadership and oversight of the Legislature for its alleged failure to effectively and independently oversee the work of the Executive, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the passport granting process in this instant case.
The CENTAL Executive Director said his institution is deeply concerned about the unceasing trends of these incidents, especially this latest passport scandal, which adds to multiple similar cases reported here.
Miamen recalled that the situation is no different from the Andrew Wonploe saga of 2020, the Danish Journalist saga of 2012, and other scandals previously uncovered.
He warned that this undermines the rule of law, national security, and the integrity and sanity of the country’s passport granting process.
Additionally, Miamen believes that it exposes the vulnerability of Liberia’s systems and processes and devalues the country’s priceless identity.
“It is extremely painful that while ordinary citizens queue during early morning hours and for several days to get passports, to which they are entitled, others have found it rewarding to deny their own citizens in favor of a passport black market,” Miamen lamented.
He said this is a disgraceful act that has the tendency to place Liberia as a pariah in the comity of nations since they have the propensity to undermine international peace and security.
“CENTAL is very disappointed that the unorthodox dealings of public officials and their accomplices have become commonplace in Liberia,” he said.
He alleged that government officials and their collaborators orchestrate plans to defraud the country and fatten their own pockets at the expense of ordinary Liberians and voters who continue to be grossly mistreated by their leaders.
He also alleged limited political will and the culture of impunity for corruption and other related offenses, especially those perpetrated by high-ranking public officials.
Meanwhile, Mr. Miamen on behalf of CENTAL, has thanked President Weah for launching an investigation into the passport matter.
“While the move by the President to instantly probe into the matter is welcoming, we strongly believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conflicted and cannot be trusted to independently and robustly interrogate said scandal,” said Miamen.
He called on the President to constitute an independent committee composed of credible and reputable individuals from the religious community, civil society, the Press as well as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to thoroughly oversee the matter.
“We call on our development partners to be more vigilant and unwavering in standing by the Liberian People by exposing individuals who continue to collude to defraud the Country and keep ordinary Liberians trapped in poverty-stricken conditions,” he added.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/cental-urges-weah-to-take-decisive-actions-against-underperforming-officials/