“Let Immigration arrest me,” he says
Popular talk show host and chairman of the Council of Patriots (CoP), Henry P. Costa who secretly left Liberia through Sierra Leone a week ago, after refusing to show up for further investigation over allegation that he entered Liberia in December using a forged laissez-passer, has finally landed in the United States of America, promising to return to Liberia in May this year.
On the Friday, January 17 edition of BBC Focus on Africa, Costa said: “I will be returning to my home country in May. I will go home; let the immigration authority arrest me and take me to the court for prosecution, I am willing to go.”
On his Facebook page earlier, Mr. Costa appreciated the President and people of Sierra Leone for the kind gesture shown him while in that country escaping from the wrath of the Liberian Government. Costa believes that if the Government of Sierra Leone had sent him back as requested in telephone conversation by the Liberian Government, his life would not have been spared and would not face justice for a crime he says he was not charged for.
While in Sierra Leone, the government there said that it does not take dictation from another government, but was protecting its democracy and the human rights of Costa, noting that he (Costa) was not arrested and detained, as was speculated, but was being under humane treatment.
Civil Society Organizations in Sierra Leone also added weight to Costa’s protection in that country by telling the government not to turn him over to the Liberian Government on ground that his life would not be protected and that the Government of Liberia was after him not because he committed a crime, but because he had staged mass protests against bad governance and endemic corruption in Liberia.
Circumstances surrounding the surreptitious departure of Costa from the country would make anyone to be concerned about his return. Moreover, government’s loyalists believe that his departure in this form and manner suggest he would not return to Liberia until the current administration’s constitutional tenure expires.
Nevertheless, the tough-talking political commentator and activist and chairman of the Council of Patriots has told the BBC and Voice of America (VOA) that he is returning to Liberia in May 2020, and the BBC Focus on Africa says it will be watching the drama.
In a counter argument by Costa regarding the allegation that he was in possession of a forged laissez-passer, he said he left his original passport in Accra, Ghana and decided to acquired the laissez-passer to enable him travel to his son in Italy. When he entered Liberia on December 19, 2019, Costa said the Liberian Immigration assessed his document and endorsed it for entry into his home country but, after staging the January 6 protest that ended in chaos, he was about to return to the United States when the same Immigration authority seized the document for being allegedly forged.
“It is the Immigration that changed my previous document and gave me a forged document, because when I got to Liberia my first document was accepted and I entered my country. So they gave me the forged document just to have me detained because we staged two mass protests against bad governance and corruption that this government is carrying on,” Costa said.
Responding to a question about being supported by the “Congau” group for “Not willing to see the natives rule Liberia,” Costa said: “I am a Kpelle man myself. My tribe is the largest in Liberia and the Kru tribe to which the President belongs is just a little portion. The inability and incompetence of the government to lead the country is the problem; not a Congau group or any group supporting other than Liberians who see George Weah flying a private jet and building wealth for himself all over the place.”
Although the Liberian talk show host whose Roots FM station had been shut down by the government on recommendation by the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has decided to return in May this year, members of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) comprising the All Liberian Party (ALP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Liberty Party (LP) and the Unity Party (UP), have expressed fear over what it calls “Threats and attacks” on the lives of Henry Costa and Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
A release issued by the Mo Ali, a member of the group, notified the public that the two men, Costa and Yekeh, were encountering serious harassment and attacks carried out by unknown people because of the men’s critical views about the George Weah Administration.
According to the release, the continuous harassment and terroristic threats on the lives of men do not give them the sense of being free to exercise their rights as citizens of the country.
Upholding Article 15 (a) of the Liberian Constitution which states: “Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof. This right shall not be curtailed, restricted or enjoined by government save during an emergency declared in accordance with this Constitution,” the CPP executives noted with emphasis that as they and other Liberians exercise their constitutional rights by holding the government in check, they continue to encounter attacks, harassment and threats from unknown individuals believed to be loyal to the CDC.
The release said it was predicated upon this environment of threats and harassment that Mr. Costa had to escape for his life through neighboring Sierra Leone to the United States where he was going when he was stopped by the Liberian Government.