The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) has issued an ultimatum to the chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), Henry Pedro Costa, to appear no later than 9:00 a.m. today or face arrest.
The decision of LIS came from Costa’s alleged failure to appear on two different occasions at the (LIS) headquarters to answer questions pertaining his acquisition of a laissez-passer through the assistance of Sylvester T. Nah (as named by Costa) a few weeks ago, prior to his arrival into the country ahead of the 30 December 2019 protest which was postponed to January 6, 2020.
Mr. Abraham Dolley, Communications Director at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), told the Daily Observer yesterday via telephone that Costa’s lawyer has up to today’s 9:00 a.m. to bring him forward or else he will risk being arrested for not showing up for the continuation of the investigation into how he got the laissez-passer which is said to have been allegedly forged.
Costa arrived in Liberia on December 19, 2019 using the laissez-passer, which he presented to the LIS office at the Roberts International Airport, even though his passport is valid until 2023.
Although his laissez-passer was not an issue of concern earlier; however, after the January 6 protest, he was called for questioning a few days later on how he acquired it, especially since the Liberian Embassy in the United States, where he resides, also did not have any record of issuing the temporary traveling document to Costa while he was traveling back home to stage his mass protest against the government.
It may be recalled that on January 11, 2020, Costa was accompanied by his lawyer, Cllr. Findley Kangar to the headquarters of the LIS and there he wrote and affixed his signature to a statement, in which he said he obtained the laissez-passer through the assistance of his special assistant, Sylvester T. Nah, a resident of Monrovia.
“Sometime in November 2019, I interacted with my operations manager, Sylvester Nah, to ascertain the process of obtaining a temporary travel document, given that I planned to secure a Schengen Visa in my ordinary passport,” he said in his statement.
Costa continued: Because I was not in Liberia, he (Sylvester Nah) informed me that he met an individual at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who said he was a staffer of the Passport Section and that he could.”
He said he sent to Sylvester Nah US$20 from the US to expedite the process of getting the laissez-passer.
“A few days later, my guy collected the document and sent it to me. I therefore used the document to enter Liberia because I have submitted my passport for a Schengen Visa to visit Italy after my trip to Liberia,” he added.
Expected to have returned to the headquarters of the LIS on Monday January 13, Costa was advised by his lawyer, Cllr. Kangar to not appear at the LIS on the ground that the presence of the police and the Immigration officers in arms and riot gears posed a serious threat to his client’s life.
However, the Commissioner-General of the LIS, Robert Budy assured Cllr. Kangar that his office has no plan to arrest Costa, but he should appear so as to help in concluding the investigation on how he (Costa) acquired the laissez-passer, which is said to be questionable.
Throughout yesterday, Tuesday, January 14, Costa did not appear at the LIS headquarters, thereby leaving the LIS with no other option but to give him an ultimatum to appear, which expires after 9:00 a.m. today (January 15).
It is not clear what further action might take place should Costa be arrested after his failure to report to the LIS.