Ellen Corkrum Returns

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Ellen Corkrum

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.

Some Corkrum supporters at her arrival at the RIA

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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is excatly why Liberia will remained the way she is because our leaders don’t just care about putting Liberia interest first rather than friendship. Why should miss corkrum ever be allow to offer services to Liberia giving her past working record in the country? She stole from Liberia and the Sirleaf administration was trying to bring her to justice but was help by few inner circle of the Sirleaf government that hinted her to escape.

    This is where the Sirleaf administration got it wrong and they should have punished those that had aid her to escape from Liberia without being prosecuted. I am very optimistic that, her returned to Liberia is not for nothing. Sooner or later, she will get some political appointment from the Weah led administration to again find the perfect opportunity to steal from Liberia. Why do we keep recycling our failed official like they are the only one available to work for government. If she claimed she did nothing wrong, then why escape from Liberian?

    What message is the administration sending out there to folks to dis engaged in stealing and corruption in Liberia? I will say, zero measures. The message is, steal, steal.and steal. For the Weah administration to even pardon her and saying, yes to corruption is bad. Here madam corkrum has returned to Liberia like nothing ever went wrong but giving praises to the president of Liberia, president George wiah.

  2. This is very interesting. you mean to tell me that someone who was accused of embezzlement, who surreptitiously escaped the country with the aid of top government officials, will return with pomp and pagentry?

    interesting

  3. Ellen, you have to praise the government of the day because you were set free after huge embezzlement. By the way your name kwame is not native to Liberia it sounds foreign. That your divisive politics should not be preached if you have connection with Weah.

    • A wise person once said, “There is more power in unity than division.”

      The young man stated, “By the way your name kwame is not native to Liberia it sounds foreign. That your divisive politics should not be preached if you have connection with Weah.”

      It is ironic this young man who is telling Ellen not to preach divisive politics is also divisive. How can you call a bona fide highly educated Liberian woman foreign because her middle name is “Kwame”? Is this not an oxymoron? An oxymoron is a word or group of words that is self-contradicting.

      By the way, my last name is Conneh! Doesn’t it sound foreign? Yes, it may sound foreign but so many generations of mine, including me, come from upper Lofa County: the same Mandingo Chiefdom the Kessellys come from. Are we not Liberians according to your rationale?

      I have lived in USA for more than 40 years (retired), and I still consider myself a Liberian by birth. Liberia, since its founding, is a melting pot for people of “Negro Descent.” Liberian citizenship for “Blacks only” is still the law today in Liberia’s revised 1986 Constitution.

      Are we not tired of divisiveness in Liberia? After 14 years of silly wars and many atrocities that took 240,000 Liberian lives, some of whom could have been doctors, engineers, scientists, nurses, plumbers, electricians, technicians, farmers, …..are we not tired of political, tribal, ethnic, social, and religious divisions in Liberia?

      Ethnic and political divisions destroyed our beautiful country. It divided the kind, loving, and peaceful people of Liberia. What will it take to unity the people who called themselves Liberians? Not by a calling a fellow Liberian a foreigner, Conqua or country, or native. Despite our differences we are all Liberians.

      I remember, as a businessman in the 60s and 70s, I travelled throughout Liberia. I was welcomed in people homes and sometimes spent the night in those homes. It did not matter what tribe, ethnic group, or religion I came from I was welcomed. That was the typical Liberian hospitality during those good old days.

      It does not matter what name a Liberian has! It does not matter what tribe or ethnic a Liberian come from. It does not matter what religion or what party a Liberian belongs to! What matters is we are all Liberians! We should learn to respect each other as human beings and most especially, as fellow Liberians.

      You will be astonished to find many Liberian women living in the diaspora, who are married to foreign nationals some with children, are now returning to Liberia with foreign names. Are they too not considered Liberians because of foreign sounding names?

      Some people may like her, and some people may hate her but Ellen Kwame Corkrum is still a bona fide Liberian. Remember, Liberian law says, “One is innocent until proven guilty.”

      Remember this Swahili proverb, “Unity is strength, Division is weakness.”

  4. Alpha Conneh,

    Just the fact that you lived in the USA for more than 40 years puts me in the position to be your son. I am not yet 40 years, and because of that reason, I am going to refer to you as Uncle Conneh and trust that it will be ok by you.

    You touched on so many salient point in your well written piece. There was a time when we as Liberians were a hospitable people and we welcome every person in our fold, irrespective of tribal affiliation. Last names were never a hinderance at all. Like you allude in your piece, whenever you traveled doing your business, you were always welcome with no regards to your name.

    I was born in the mid 80’s have not experienced such hospitality and don’t expect I will. Suspicion and deep fear of others renders that impossible. I always listen to my parents telling stories of that sort and I feel, at times, a deep sense of sadness, that I, almost with 100% certainty, will never experience such.

    Back to Miss Corkrum’s story, she did mentioned that she is claiming Citizenship of Ghana for the fact that her dad is from that part of Africa, and she is claiming Liberian citizenship because her mother is from Liberia. Not that any of that matters. She should be judged on her own merits.

    Hopefully, one day, Liberia will go back to the time when names were not relevant.

    enjoy your retirement, uncle conneh.

    Peace

  5. Do you want to know how some of the squandered billions of dollars was misused during the Johnson-Sirleaf years? Well, think Ellen Kwame Corkrum and a host of former Ellen Johnson Sirleaf employees. The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf years were certainly “golden years” of mismanagement and theft. As matters relate to Kwame-Corkrum, no questions should be asked. In order to be able to obtain degrees from two of the world’s best known universities, one must have a bundle of mullah. Kwame-Corkrum did not save the money she spent at MIT and Harvard on her job in Liberia. She might have the brain, but so far, there’s no record of scholarships she may have gotten in order to have attended MIT and Harvard. Until we know exactly how she financed her education at MIT and Harvard, Kwame-Corkrum may have embezzled good money from Liberia in order to have obtained her degrees.

    A former thief returns home with a rousing welcome at the airport? Incredible!

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