EFFL, COCUBOM reject CBL’s ‘No Money Missing’ Statement
Two civil society groups (CSOs) behind the #BringOurMoneyBack campaign have said that the “insincere and dishonest” pronouncement from the government through the Central Bank of Liberia that “no money is missing” is a clever attempt by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) administration to not only sweep the issue under the carpet but inadvertently provoke the already impoverished masses to anger.
CBL Governor, Nathaniel Patray, said at a press conference in Monrovia yesterday that there is no such record showing that such money (L$16 B) is yet to be delivered to the CBL. “All the money is in the vault,” the Governor said.
But the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) and the mother group of the campaign, Concerned Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), told the Daily Observer yesterday that the CBL’s statement is the biggest joke of the century. “This government is joking. We are already aware of the government’s intention to kill this issue but trust me, this won’t be killed. We will stand in defense of our people and ensure that the right thing is done. This we can assure our people,” COCUBOMB’s Chairman, Martin Kollie, said.
He added, “While it is true that we should not do anything that will undermine the peace, the government, too, on the other hand, should not provoke the masses to anger. What the CBL just did is a complete provocation to the nation and the people are going to rise up and demand for the full restitution of this money. This is what we have to tell this government and our international partners.”
He indicated that the government’s action is a calculated attempt to undermine the pending investigation.
“We want to reiterate that this government must fully account for this money. This revelation we got from the CBL was prearranged and pre-calculated by functionaries of the government to put an end to the missing containers of newly printed banknotes’ debacle,” he said.
COCUBOMB, according to its chairman, will sharply react “to this malicious fallacy from the CBL.”
Kollie, who is a student and youth activist, noted that the government is being very insincere and dishonest to the masses about the money. “We want to reiterate that this government must fully account for this money,” he said.
He however maintained that there should be an independent forensic investigation to be headed by one of the country’s international partners. “We do not trust this government. It lacks the credibility,” he said
Self-contradictions haunting government
“Many top government officials, including the ministries of Justice and Information, have told us that money is missing and that they started the investigation since August 8. Why now is the same government coming out to tell us that nothing is missing? What do they take us for?” he asked.
The chairman of the ruling party, Mulbah Morlu, said at a press conference in Monrovia that the money is indeed missing and he even knows who took the money. This was also amplified by a staunch CDCian lawmaker, Solomon George, who said that the money is missing and was distributed by some top officials, calling on the President to tell the Liberian people the truth.
“It is, therefore, sad that today the CBL is telling us that the money is not missing. When did they get to know that nothing is missing? Then why are they even inviting experts to come and help probe the matter?” Kollie asked.
He disclosed that COCUBOMB is planning another mass protest in demand of the money. “We have already called on our people to begin mass mobilization for our pending nationwide protest. We are not only going to protest in Montserrado County this time around but across the entire country until government accounts for the missing billions.”
Kollie predicted few days ago on his social media page that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, was in a series of meetings with CBL hierarchy to bring out the “fallacy” spewed out by Governor Patray.
His Secretary-General, Ernest Moibah, noted that Patray’s pronouncement was a clear fulfillment of his promise that he will live by the will and pleasure of President Weah, and not necessarily the dictates of the laws and policies of the CBL. “Whatever Weah says, he, Patray, has promised to do,” he said.
Moibah also added the CBL is in line with what the President said upon his arrival from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Sunday, which suggests that no money is missing. President Weah insinuated that the total money in circulation in the country is L$17 billion, so there is no possibility that L$16 billion can be missing from such an amount, saying, “This means inflation in the country will be very high.”
He noted that the EFFL is aware of the political interplay that is ongoing.
With the CBL’s position now, it is anticipated that the ongoing investigation will determine how the CBL uses the money to replace the legacy notes. How they disbursed the money as a forensic audit, according to sources, will be done by the British-based auditing firm, KPMG, which has been dispatched by the EU and US.
Initially, Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah outrightly dismissed the possibility of billions getting missing—a position that was echoed by President Weah upon his return Sunday.
And in a little over 48 hours, the CBL reinforced the President’s position. However, this has been greeted with countless criticisms from the public, with many indicating that the CBL’s latest position has undermined the “investigation” that has been commissioned by the President.
Some believe that the CBL, in the first place, has no ground to speak to the press on this matter, as long as an investigation is said to be ongoing. “This jeopardizes not just the outcome of the investigation but its very conduct,” Samuka V. Konneh, a media development expert, said on social media.
“All of those named as persons of interest are almost all employees of the CBL. So, the CBL is being investigated in essence. Under what common sense will the CBL be addressing and even passing judgment when an investigation is said to be ongoing? Now, you remember when I said there was no investigation ongoing, there was only questioning,” he said.
“Do not blame Governor Patray, blame the President. He betrayed our trust the very moment he cast doubt on the possibility of billions gone missing,” Konneh concluded.
However, it is no secret that the CBL, which did the printing of the money, is the prime suspect in the case until otherwise proven. “I am reminded how you rarely find a prisoner or suspect accused of committing a crime and honestly confess to committing said crime. So, I am least bothered by the latest claim by the CBL that ‘no money is missing,’” an opposition leader told the Daily Observer yesterday.