THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S travel sanction placed on Liberia’s suspended Passport Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia Andrew Wonplo and his immediate family last week comes as a slap in the face of the Government of Liberia that failed to press charges in court.
The U.S. Government’s action is not a reproach only to Mr. Wonplo, his wife and children, but the entire Liberia.
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION INTO a major passport scandal at the Foreign Ministry in 2019 resulted to charges brought against Mr. Wonplo and his accomplice, a Nigerian national, Adedoyin Emmanuel Atir, who allegedly purported as an authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in awarding travel opportunities and receiving money from his victims.
BUT WHEN THE case went to court, Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia under Judge YamieGbeisay in July 2019 dropped prosecution against defendant Andrew Wonploe, and his associate due to the Ministry of Justice (prosecutors’) failure to make substantial follow-up on the case. Wonplo then thought his sin was covered since prosecutors failed to appear in court.
UNITED STATES SECRETARY of State Michael Pompeo last week Thursday, 10 September sanctioned Mr. Wonplo and his immediate family from traveling to America “due to his involvement in significant corruption.”
MR. POMPEO DETAILED that in his official capacity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2019, Mr. Wonplo was involved in 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. “This designation is made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94)”, he said in a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy’s official website in Monrovia.
HOWEVER, IN A turnaround over the weekend, the Weah administration shamelessly said it reserves the right to prosecute Mr. Wonplo for corruption, having been reluctant earlier to press prosecution when the case went to court, leaving the judge to dismiss charges.
WHAT A PARADOX by the CDC-led government! After the strong action by the U.S. Department of State that has brought reproach to the Republic of Liberia with a suspended official designated for his involvement in significant corruption, then the authorities here say they want to take Wonplo to court for corruption.
DOES THE GEORGE WEAH government have political will to fight corruption? We don’t think so. We see pronouncement by the Minister of Information Lenn Eugene Nagbe as face-saving or cover-up. The government spoke out of embarrassment, for it is not interested in prosecuting Wonplo for his scandalous activities within the Passport department that saw Liberian diplomatic passports sole to unscrupulous individuals impersonating abroad as diplomats from Liberia.
BESIDES, THE DESIGNATION of Wonplo and his immediate family by the United States Government should send a very strong message to this current Liberian administration that corruption in public offices would not be swept under the rug, as has been the case in the first three years of the Weah government. Perpetrators would be made to account for their actions now and even after, which is justice in its real sense.