Amid the reported disappearance of containers and bags of newly printed Liberian Banknotes from the Freeport of Monrovia and inconsistent accounts from within government on the issue, public pressure mounts here for President George Manneh Weah to address the nation.
“I mean no harm to President Weah, but it is an error by the Executive. President Weah must speak to the Liberian people”, stresses Montserrado County District#7 Representative Solomon George, a member of President Weah’s ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.
Mr. George laments here Thursday, 20 September while on a live radio talk show that lies are being told to the public about the alleged missing containers and bags of moneys.“My advice to the President”, he continues, “he has to try by all means to speak to the Liberian people immediately.”
Since a local daily broke news of the disappearance of two 40-foot containers stacked with freshly printed Liberian Banknotes that the Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Justice confirms, and the Minister of Information Lenn Eugene Nagbe discloses the total amount at US$16 Billion Liberian Dollars, President Weah is yet to publicly comment on an act some of his officials describe as treasonable.
President Weah, who is expected to leave the country this weekend to attend the United Nations General Assembly, is embattled from two fronts: While one group of U.S.-based Liberians are protesting before the UN Headquarters in New York, calling for the establishment of war and economic crimes court for the country, Liberians back home want him to public speak on the alleged disappearance of billions of Liberian dollars.
A press statement issued in Monrovia by the Ministry of Justice on September 17, confirms that on August 8, 2018, a Special Presidential investigative Team, comprising investigators from the Liberian National Police (LNP), the National security Agency (NSA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was constituted and mandated to investigation information surrounding the arrival of containers and bags of moneys into the country, by and thru the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts international Airport.
But Representative George thinks President Weah is not being presented the facts, and his conspicuous silence on such a major financial crime, the first in the country’s history, could exacerbate the situation as citizens are enraged.
“Satan is creeping in the Executive Mansion”, he says, and warns; “We can’t be playing with the hearts of the Liberian people.”The Liberia National Police has been interrogating the former executive governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, J. Milton Weeks, who has categorical said moneys from one of the containers are deposited both in the vault of the CBL in Monrovia and another vault at the ex-national housing and savings bank in the commercial district of Waterside. However, the former governor maintains that he does not know the whereabouts of one of the containers that reportedly went missing.
However, the Government of Liberia this week thru the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism issued national security circular, advising persons of interest needed to assist with ongoing investigation into circumstance surrounding the importation of Liberian banknotes between November 2017 and August 2018, not to leave the country.
A press statement issued Tuesday by the Ministry of Information says authorities at all points of entry or exit, including land, border, air and sea ports have been directed to take due cognizance of the circular.The release discloses that investigation team has asked for the continued cooperation of several individuals, including ex-governor Milton Weeks, George Abi Jaoudi, Charles Sirleaf, Richard Walker, Mariea E. G. Toe, Musulyn R. B. Jackson and Opheila Nyenpan. Others are Oldada Deshield, Prince Bull, J. Barquolleh Gabriel, Theodosia B. Jreh, Zinnah Davison, Solomon Jaykpah, Kollie Ballah, and Andrew Pabai, amongst others.
Representative George, who was member of the 53rd Liberian Legislature under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, recalls that members of that defunct body mandated the Central Bank to print 50 million Liberian banknotes in order to replace mutilated banknotes in circulation, but he is surprised that excess money was printed.
-Story by Jonathan Browne