After charges against her were dropped, she says it is laudable that “government that is able to ensure justice is administered at every level of our society.”
After fleeing the country under the cloud of darkness as a result of trumped-up charges against her by the immediate past administration, former managing director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ellen Kwame Corkrum, has returned to Liberia—this time not as a fugitive but a free woman who is lauding the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) government of President George Manneh Weah for vindicating her.
Madam Corkrum lauded the CDC government for dropping charges against her, noting that justice has finally been served. “It is wonderful to be back home and I’m grateful to President Weah and his team as well as the Liberian people,” she said.
The controversial former LAA boss returned to the country on Thursday and was met upon arrival by a huge crowd that had converged to welcome her back home. The composition of the crowd, neatly attired in different colorful clothes and t-shirts with her picture and several inscriptions, comprised people who worked with her during her time at the Airport Authority.
Ms. Corkrum clandestinely left Liberia with the help of some top security personalities that were serving in the Unity Party-led government, who were also staunch confidants of former President Elle Johnson Sirleaf.
Corkrum’s escape was precipitated by an indictment by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in 2013 on charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, conspiracy to defraud the government, and making unauthorized transfers of funds from government accounts.
She was indicted, along with Musa Bility, then chairman of the Board of Directors of LAA; the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through Momar Dieng, a U.S. citizen; and the First International Bank; and all authorized representatives of the authority.
The First International Bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with co-defendants of Corkrum, Melvin Johnson & Associates, to make an unauthorized transfer of funds in the amount of US$56,750 from the account of the Liberia Airport Authority when Corkrum was the Managing Director.
Corkrum was also accused of transferring US$269,000 to a fictitious company, Diaspora Consulting, LLC and its CEO, Momar Dieng, through whom she reportedly attended the Kennedy Business School, Harvard University.
However, the lawyers representing the Government of Liberia filed a motion for Nolle Prosequoi at Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice, on December 3, 2019, requesting that all charges against Ms. Ellen Cockrum be dropped. On December 9, the government’s request was granted the same day by Judge Nancy F. Sammy of Criminal Court ‘C’.
In the motion, the Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, argued that the case has been pending before the court since 2013 without having the opportunity to serve defendant Corkrum with the Indictment or the Writ of Arrest to bring her under the jurisdiction of the court.
In 2015, some efforts were made to secure Corkrum’s extradition to Liberia. The Solicitor General at the time, Cllr. Betty L. Blamo, traveled to the United States to meet U.S. authorities but that did not materialize, making it impossible for Corkrum to be served her indictment or extradited to lead to prosecution. These constraints, the CDC-led government noted, led to her decision to finally drop charges against Corkrum.
Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Sammie therefore granted prosecution’s request without hesitation, ultimately dismissing charges and the indictment against Corkrum.
Sammy said the court had “no alternative” but to agree with the government since “it is the Government of Liberia that has the responsibility to institute criminal charges against the accused person and prosecute them.”
Prior to Corkrum’s brief stay at the LAA, she served as a U.S. military Black Hawk assault helicopter pilot, a major in the United States Armed Forces reserves, and a commercial airline pilot. She is a graduate of Harvard University with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She also holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Upon her arrival at the RIA yesterday, all smiles and in a very joyous mood, Corkrum said, “It is wonderful to be back home and, most importantly, I’m so grateful and have so much gratitude in my heart looking at these people who have left their busy schedules to be here for me. They could have been doing some very important things, but I’m grateful that they came.”
“My gratitude goes first and foremost to our wonderful President, George Weah and his team who continue to work to make our country a better place. I also want to applaud my family, friends and loved ones who stood by me.”
As to what level of cooperation she had with the Weah administration that led to the decision to drop the charges against her, Corkrum said, “I have always cooperated with every government. I’m just grateful that Liberia is finally in a place where we have a government that is from the foundation that the Liberian people represent. A government that is able to ensure justice is administered at every level of our society.”
She continued: “When we can see it happening for a person who is not on the ground (in country), then we know for sure that it is possible for everyone, including those some considered the least in society.”
Asked whether the charges against her were politically motivated, the former LAA boss noted, “I think most people who can look at it are able to decide where those charges came from. Hey, I will like for you to make your own decision whether it was political or not.”
Madam Corkrum may still have an eye on public service in Liberia but noted that if only it is the will of God. She noted that working in public service again has to be decided by God first. “My hope and dreams from day one as a child was to become an aviator and by God’s grace that is what I have been able to do and that’s what I enjoy doing.”
“If that’s what God decides for me to do again, especially for my people who love and care for me, then, of course, I will consider,” she added, “This life is not just about us but giving back to our people, our society and our country.
Caught On Tape
Former Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Chris Massaquoi and former Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai, both of whom were reported to have had a hand in the escape from Liberia of Ellen Corkrum and her fiancé, Melvin Johnson, were caught in a series of explosive secret recordings reportedly released by Corkrum. Both officials were caught on tape discussing their boss, former President Sirleaf, in a demeaning manner.
As a way of curbing the wave of secret recordings that were being experienced in the country, the Ministry of Justice reportedly filed a Bill of Information at Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia, preventing media institutions from playing, publishing or discussing the “Ellen Corkrum’s” recordings.
It was also rumored that Ms. Corkrum was interested in contesting the Liberian presidency ahead of the general and presidential elections in 2017—a dream that reportedly died due to the legal issues with the then government, making her unable to return.
She expressed her intent for the nation’s presidency in early 2016 when she addressed members of the Liberian community of Staten Island in New York, the United States, after accusing the Liberian government of being ‘insensitive’ to the plight of the Liberian people who she claimed are drowning in abject poverty, while officials of the Unity Party-led government were allegedly plundering the wealth of the country.