The embattled former Director of Passports at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Andrew Wonplo, after a brief silence spoke Thursday, October 29, 2020 from his unnamed hideout and where is kept the heat on barricaded former Foreign Minister Gbezhongar M. Findley requesting him and others linked to produce the diplomatic passports since they told the Senate that the matter in court bordered on the missing ordinary passports.
In his nerve-wrecking startling revelation, embattled Wonplo on a local radio station said that while he has been quiet for some time due to the deaths of four Liberian professionals it is foolhardy for anyone to believe that he has dropped the diplomatic passports of which he was accused of selling to foreigners and was taken to court by the government that made no efforts to pursue its case to a logical conclusion, adding, for the 16 years spent at the Ministry, he has not had any meeting with anyone regarding the issuance of diplomatic passports.
Alleging that Findley and others are sitting on the money they accrued from the sale of the diplomatic passports, it was sad to see how Finley and collaborators could mislead the Senate when they were sent for to give a clearer picture on the entire diplomatic passports saga which they said the issue in court against him (Wonplo) was not about diplomatic rater ordinary passports which according to him is not the fact of the matter.
He said the country is being caught up in a sticky national problem concerning the mysterious deaths of the Liberian professionals which has serious security dimension including the selling of the diplomatic passports to foreigners which are sufficient evident to chase investors out of the country well as discourage potential investors from venturing into the country with such terrifying stories unresolved problems.
Embattled Wonplo made it clear that he is willing and prepared for a full scale investigation into the passports saga once his security is guaranteed before an independent, impartial panel, adding that Liberia is bleeding.
It can be recalled that as the shame, scandal and embarrassment emanating from the disgraceful and illicit sale of Liberia’s passports including diplomatic, pundits are craving on bended knees why President George M. Weah’s government is so consistently muddy in habits, practices and unwarranted activities that pierces the soul of the nation; and whether he cares or not, knowing that his regime does not exist in oblivion and is subjected to accountability to the people; by extension the comity of nations.
They recalled too well, as they noted that it is very troubling, that the Weah’s government under the canopy of Pro-Poor instead of honestly portraying practically such credo which for so long of denial majority of the population its full share of the national cake; is gravely saddled with gross violations of the Constitution, taking decisions desecrated with criminal nature like the unauthorized spending of the deposited international community’s money and had to be forced to replace it coupled with chain of breaching the laws and legitimate rules governing the state with impunity, adding, the day light is glaring signaling that the uncouth conduct must stop.
According to them, there comes a time in the life of a leadership when it must take stock of its performances; wherein the wrongs are made right; the menace of impunity is checkmated to enhance the factors of good governance to openly and freely flow, while carrying out some degree of political repentance for the sake of instilling genuine reconciliation, wherein all will collectively feel and be directly or indirectly a part and parcel of the administrative kudos; instead of reflective of mere spectators as the power, honor and glory being restricted to only selected few.
Today, the pundits added, the nation is being embroiled in a criminally-charged mess that has stabbed trustworthiness in the back, created a huge and scaring confidence vacuum, as the hullabaloos of charge and counter charge of such a wrong behavior that did not just recklessly put the safety of the nation on the radar, but also endangered the security of others with the United States Government not taken chances in the sale of Liberian traveling documents including diplomatic passports by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, something that is very worrisome.
Also, Weah Administration has been rocked by series of high profile financial scandals since taking office in January 2018. Moreover, this passports embarrassment is not over until it is over, wherein the tainted layers connected to the sad and heartbreak are uprooted and openly named and shamed for imposing such a grim disgrace and security crunch.
Already, in the pool of claims and counter-claims, former Director of Passports at the Foreign Ministry Andrew Wonplo is challenging former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbezohngar M. Findley to “come clean” about the entire passport scandal, despite his Senatorial quest.
According to report, in 2019, Wonplo was suspended from office and indicted for Economic Sabotage, theft of property and Criminal Conspiracy. But judicial watchers say the Government declined to aggressively pursue the case then for fear that Wonplo would implicate senior officials which he has now done.
In July, Judge Yamie Gbeisay of the Criminal Court, dismissed the charges after the Government failed in two terms of the court to prosecute the accused, thus leaving pundits to wonder why the government would be so reluctant to pursue the case to the fullest considering the depth of criminality attending it; and worse of all, the critical and serious security dimension involved which makes the headache severe globally.
Wonplo said, “…I respected you people too much! I respected you people too much! I am not stupid. I respected you people too much, but where it is reaching… the life of me and my family…where on three different occasions’ people missed me at my home.”
He is rejecting sole responsibility for the accusation against him of selling passports. “So why are we here and want to play games around here as if to say we are not aware of what happening,” he forcefully asked in apparent reference to the fact that “higher ups” were in the know of the deal.
“We have to be very factual. Call the Americans. Talk to them! Talk to them. You made an error. Minister Findley, you have to say something about this thing,” Wonplo charged.
On September 10th, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a public designation barring Mr. Wonplo from entering the U.S., saying, “I am announcing the public designation of the former Director of Passport and Visas at the Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrew Wonplo, due to his involvement in significant corruption”.
Pompeo added 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 their government’s management of identification and travel documents, and compromised the integrity and security of immigration processes.”
However, Findley in at a news conference recently in Grand Bassa took on a two-prone attack on his accuser (Wonplo) and his arch-political rival for the senatorial position Karnga-Lawrence for taking a pop shot at him for the passport scandal.
Former Foreign Minister Milton Gbehzohngar Findley has called on Senator Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence, the incumbent and his major rival in the upcoming Special Senatorial Election in Grand Bassa County to focus more on her campaign and stop what he terms as the cheap talk of implicating him into the illegal selling of 4,000 Liberia diplomatic passports.
Senator Lawrence in her comment said: “As a proud Liberian, a Senator, and a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I hope that these allegations, which now swirl around the President and the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, are not true. Because were they to be true, they would present us with our most embarrassing, shameful, and degrading international moment since the war brought our nation to our collective knees.”
According to him, under the system set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is not possible for anybody to take 4,000 passports, personalized it, take the money, and put it in their pockets. “So, Senator Lawrence, you got to deal with me in Bassa. I am not going to be distracted by you paying people to do news articles. That is why we are having a press conference in Buchannan,” Mr. Findley said.
The former Minister added: “I will say this to you all, that Senator Lawrence is believing in a criminal, she believes that what this criminal is saying is more credible than Gbehzohngar Findley, what it tells you –that she, herself is a criminal. Because if you believe in a criminal and come and brand somebody who is unblemished. If she knew the level of work that has done in this case, she wouldn’t be talking. She will be focusing on trying to take herself back to Grand Bassa and try to apologize to the Bassa people rather than calling somebody a criminal. She needs to apologize to the Bassa people for doing nothing for eight years,” Mr. Findley said.
Findley said Wonplo has fled justice while making baseless, unfounded, and trashy allegations against people.
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