Since this Diplomatic Passports Scandal mounted the stage of serious attention amidst startling revelations from former embattled Director of Passports Andrew Wonploe who spilled the beans in criminating top brass in government including the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gbezohngar Milton Findley; the chills of past developments without the slightest hesitation, are looming over the nation and people with optimistic fear and questionable truth that end must be exhausted with cogent evident.
This nation, although the oldest Independent Republic in Africa and at 173, has also been badly saddled with many unfortunate happenings mainly in governmental setting, while it is fair enough to substantiate allegations levied against others, like a famous adage he who had been bitten by a snake shall not take a swiftly crossing lizard’s tail for granted.
More to that, he who has seen a dead boa constrictor in a particular forest will dare not make his farm in such forest because what will come to his mind is: do they live here? How many are they or could be here? What could be the cause of the death of this one boa and how secure will I be when I start my farming venture here? Therefore being mindful of the prevailing circumstances, he shall swiftly subscribe to the first law of nature which states self-preservation as the first line of safety or self-security.
Liberia’s Passports landing in strange hands and most often, unscrupulous individuals is no new sport to take for granted, because there was a time when the nation’s passports were being used by people with very tinted characters involved with and connected to so many terrifying and horrible activities hat placed them on the global radar as the most criminally wanted individuals on this planet.
This nation’s passports have been utilized by great revolutionaries who fought total redemption for the countries from the yoke and shackles of colonialism and imperialism and made good of the courtesy, including renowned statesmen; a proud role played that Liberia has no qualms of.
However, during the 14-year civil crisis and after, the country’s passports once again became totally desecrated when it fell in the hands of white collar crime busters, con men and double-minded folks whose infamous activities and were causing the world so much difficulties rooted in deep-seated crimes ranging from drugs, money laundry and terrorism; and while the diplomatic passports served as easy passage to and through international entrances; most of the countries including those passports being used become transit points for the drugs and the laundering of their ‘dirty’ and bloodstain money while similar places plus more are used as launching patch for terrorist’s ventures.
It took the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration serious work internationally to restore trust and credibility to the Liberian Passports which most countries, knowing who some of the holders were did not honor at international airports and other high profile places and occasions. Following the great done, including the change of printers, newly printed passports with security feature embedded with applicants thoroughly checked by virtue of backgrounds with a little spice of technology-biometric to contain at least those holding the nation’s passports are legitimate and carefully processed with full corporation from the security apparatus.
Today, the passports, especially the diplomatic ones are being overwhelmed by some dubious persons with their own hidden agenda; are utilizing the document to smoothly enhance their vicious operations as the image of the nation continues to bleed profusely based on the sinister motives of some inside wheelers and dealers, which has now claimed the grave attentions of other countries including the United States of America who having been wounded from the operations unleashed on September 11, 2001 by terrorists; are taken no chances since the passports floodgate is uncontainable with those reportedly in possession are not clearly known.
Now, the passports’ hullabaloos amidst claims, counterclaims and denial seemed to be transforming into a bombshell with amazing things most fearful to the great United States allegedly unfolding, of which one no is taken lightly considering all things being equal. This nation recalled vividly when a Danish Journalist Mads Johan Brugger Cortzen bulldozed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under falsehood, obtained a Liberian Diplomatic Passport, cajoled the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government under the +watch of Foreign Minister Toga Gayewea McIntosh and was made honorary consul general to Central African Republic (CAR).
Despite Government of Liberia’s grave consternation, upon learning of the fake operation of a film documentary of the Danish Journalist Mads Johan Brugger Cortzen who presented himself as a Liberian diplomat with the title of Consul General and Ambassador-At-Large accredited to the Central African Republic (CAR). In the documentary, while stating his motive as going undercover to explore the nefarious world of blood diamonds and corruption in Africa, Mr. Cortzen admits that he fraudulently purchased a Liberian diplomatic position and passport for USD150, 000.00 through a network that allegedly advertises and un-authorizing sells diplomatic positions of struggling countries, including Liberia, via the World Wide Web.
Again, as former Director of Passports, Andrew Wonploe continues to call names of those heavily involved with the massive sale of passports, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, has claimed that the allegation that he participated in the sale of Liberian passports to foreigners around the world is a baseless and trashy allegation.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, often acts in the place of the Chief Executive (i.e. President Weah) when it comes to the issuance of diplomatic passports. The passport scarcity was planned illegally and executed by the Government of Liberia represented by Gbehzohngar Milton Findley. Gbehzohngar is currently using proceeds from said illegal transactions to fund his campaign,” Wonplo’s statement said.
A local daily reported that in a news conference held early Sunday afternoon in Buchanan, Findley read a statement claiming that, at no time did he ever instruct or authorize the former Director of Passports, Andrew Wonploe to sell the government of Liberia passports. Rather, “it was due to proper oversight of the affairs the Ministry that the criminal conspiracy was busted, resulting in Andrew Wonplo’s subsequent suspension and investigation by the National Security Agency,” Findley said.
Then came the astonishing disclosure by Counsel of Patriots (COP) Chairman Henry P. Costa that an alleged Nigerian drug dealer, Ambassador Akintunde OJo has been made Liberia’s honorary consul general in Mexico, a statement that did not go down well with the government.
Findley also told a news conference after Henry Costa, a fierce critic of the government, had released photos of Findley presenting a certificate of Honorary Consul General to a Nigerian National to represent the Republic of Liberia in Mexico, insisted that the claims from Costa, Wonploe, and others are all false and intend to tarnish his good public service track records.
Findley furthermore narrated that, contrary to allegations by Costa, Wonploe and others, Honorable Counsel General positions were not sold, but based on proper vetting, which was done in keeping with the laws and procedures of Liberia and with the involvement of the National Security Agency (NSA).
“I did not instruct the former passport director to trade a Liberian passport to a non-Liberian. While serving as Minister, all Honorary Consuls were commissioned and issued diplomatic passports based on proper vetting by the government in compliance with international protocol and laws,” Findley added.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s Minister of Information, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, says the Liberian government acted prudently and legally in the appointment of Mr. Akintunde Ojo as the country’s Honorary Consulate General to Mexico.
Nagbe’s statement was in response to FrontPageAfrica inquiry on the allegation of Mr. Ojo, a Nigerian, being an alleged drug criminal who bribed his way through the George Weah-led government for the acquisition of a Liberian diplomatic passport and a diplomatic post, for the purpose of carrying out his drug deals under the protection of Liberia’s sovereignty.
FrontPageAfrica has not been able to independently verify Mr. Ojo’s involvement with drugs and could not obtain any information on the internet that links him to any involvement in drug or crime.
It was alleged by Mr. Henry Costa during his live session on Facebook over the weekend that Mr. Ojo, having been denied a diplomatic passport during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2014 return to Liberia and defied the system under the current regime, attained a diplomatic passport and was posted to Mexico as Liberia’s Honorary Consulate General.
Mr. Nagbe’s response to FrontPageAfrica said as with the internationally accepted practice, the host governments transmit an exequatur through a diplomatic note to the Government of Liberia to allow an Honorary Counsel to serve in said country.
The issue also drew the attention of the Representative Edwin Snowe who heads the House Committee on Foreign Relations posted to Facebook: “This passport story is getting serious! Nigerian drug dealer as Liberian Honorary Consul to Mexico and issued Liberian Diplomatic Passport? Wow!!!”
Min. Nagbe: “Now regarding Representative Snowe and others who are regurgitating the falsehood that the government sold diplomatic passports to a drug dealer, the onus is on them to come forward with the information they have. The government is interested in seeing the evidence, however scanty. The government of Mexico too will be interested and so will the government of the United States who are working in close cooperation with our own security apparatus in fighting diverse areas of national and transnational crimes.”
According to the Information Minister, Representative Acarous Gray, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, has done a communication to cause Representative Snowe to come forward with his evidence before the Foreign Relations committee.
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