-Says COCUBOMB; Lauds US Gov’t for Swift Action
The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), the group at the center of a massive campaign to ensure that the Liberian government accounts for the alleged missing container of L$16 billion newly printed banknotes, has said that Liberians are resolved to ensure that the alleged missing money is restituted. The group says that it remains unbent until this happens.
“Our calls for the restitution of the missing funds remain unbending and non-negotiable,” COCUBOMB Chairman, Martin K. N. Kollie said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Kollie lauded the United States government for its swift intervention to help investigate the embarrassing scandal.
COCUBOMB expressed gratitude to the U.S. government for getting involved in the investigation as doing so has brought credibility to the process. The group has persistently noted that it does not trust the Liberian government, which stands as the prime suspect in the largest financial scandal the country has ever faced, to carry out the investigation transparently.
“We are glad that in response to the popular desire of the Liberian people through this mass peaceful protest, the International Community, through the U.S., has finally launched an independent international forensic investigation to ascertain basic facts pertinent to this national mystery that has wounded the image of the country,” Chairman Kollie said at the press conference.
“We extol the U.S. and others for standing with the Liberian people in pursuit of public accountability, integrity, and transparency. We commend the international community for judiciously acting in the best interest of the Liberian people by taking full charge of this investigation,” he added.
The U.S. Embassy recently stated that it had reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission in a bid to ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency matter and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
In its statement, the Embassy said from assessment, such a report would be the most credible and effective means to quickly determine the scale of the problem and would be an appropriate means for the United States to support the Liberian government’s and citizens’ desire to understand the allegations and facts.
What is more saddening from the very beginning of the saga, Kollie noted, is the insincerity, inconsistency and incoherence in terms of managing this national emergency which could have unintended socio-economic and political consequences.
“Even up-to-date, we cannot trust key functionaries of this government because they continue to release conflicting accounts that are loaded with falsehood,” he said.
The U.S. intervention comes barely three weeks after Liberians, led by COCUBOMB, took to the streets demanding the government to ensure that the missing billions are accounted for. On September 24, 2018, Liberians in their numbers defied a heavy downpour of rain to petition the International Community.
This massive peaceful civil action called for an independent international forensic investigation into the alleged mysterious disappearance under the current administration of President George Manneh Weah of the L$16 billion.
Protesting under the hashtag #BRINGOURMONEYBACK, the gathering reverberated with songs and slogans reflecting anti-corruption messages directed at President George Manneh Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf — two individuals many believe are at the center of the missing money saga.
COCUBOMB had earlier called on the international community to impose “smart sanctions” on the country—withholding all financial and non-financial aid to the government until it accounts for the alleged missing money.
The smart sanctions, the protesters said, will help prevail on the government to do the right thing. “This is because it will need financial assistance from the international community to carry out its development agenda,” the protesters said.
Kollie said the group remains hopeful of a credible outcome of this ongoing investigation; COCUBOMB would appreciate a weekly update from the independent international panel of forensic investigators as the process unfolds. This will help to prevent public suspicions/speculations and keep the Liberian populace regularly informed and even more confident about the veracity of the investigation.
COCUBOMB, a mass-based pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization which consists of over 26 civil society organizations (CSOs), youth/student groups and trade unions, encourages the International Community to only hire international forensic financial firms that have no link to and/or interest in Liberia.
“We believe that the full involvement of the FBI, IMF, World Bank, AfDB, and US Treasury Department would add more value to the investigation,” he said. “We want to remain proactively engaged with all international partners to ensure full accountability of this missing L$16 billion.”
Meanwhile, the CSO has reassured the International Community of its firm commitment to upholding peace and stability. “We will do nothing to undermine the peace of our country. In fact, we love this country more than those vicious micro-nationalists and pseudo-patriots who robbed our people of L$16 billion in broad-daylight,” Kollie said.
“The popular call of our people from Montserrado to Maryland is ‘BRING BACK OUR MONEY.’ This call remains non-negotiable today and even tomorrow. COCUBOMB wants to reassure all Liberians in and out of Liberia that it shall not rest until this money is fully accounted for.
“COCUBOMB also craves an investigation into the imposing private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high profile members of his government in just the first six months of his presidency. We are confident that such an investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion,” Kollie said.