New Arrests in Passport Fraud Saga

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Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edward Martin (pictured), publicly instructed court officers of the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice to handcuff one of Wonplo’s female staffers, Marian Sory.

After failing to prosecute prime suspect former Passport Director Wonplo, Government now hunting for lower-level staff

Just days after the US Government publicly announced that they have banned the former Passport Director, Andrew Wonplo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his family from entering the United States, the Liberian government has begun arresting and incarcerating employees believed to be office staff of Wonplo.

The government’s action took place on Thursday, September 17, when Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edward Martin, publicly instructed court officers of the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice to handcuff one of Wonplo’s female staffers, Marian Sory.

It all started when the court’s officers were heard informing defendant Sory that they had been mandated by the county attorney to have her handcuffed and photographed by journalists who were contacted by Cllr. Martin to have her taken to the Monrovia Central Prison.

“Cllr. Martin says we should handcuff you and place you in his personal jeep and himself will take you to  the Central Prison,” a female court’s officer was heard telling defendant Sory.

Immediately after hearing Cllr. Martin’s message about her arrest and subsequent incarceration, defendant Sory was heard saying, “Only God knows that I am innocent of their politically motivated case.  I am prepared to suffer any punishment in their hands, but I know that at the end of the day I will be freed.”

Sory is among several other individuals to include Wonplo and some foreign nationals — Ghanaians, Nigerians and Ivoirians — who were named in the government’s new indictment.

As for Sory, the new indictment claims that she was hired and authorized by defendant Wonplo and brought into the corridors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thereafter assigned with defendant Adedoyin Emmanuel Atire, a Nigerian being a non-employee, at various points of the ministry to include Interview room and other parts of the ministry to negotiate and receive all dubious proceeds from the illegal passport sale.

The indictment claims that the action of the defendants caused the government to sustain loss of US$30,000 in revenue generation.

They are charged with economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

Prior to the new indictment, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’ had dismissed those charges against Wonplo and restored his liberty.

Judge Gbeisay’s decision followed a motion filed by Wonplo’s legal team praying the court to dismiss the charges against him due to failure of the prosecution to prosecute him (Wonplo).

Judge Gbeisay based his decision on Chapter 18 section 18.2 of the Criminal procedure law which states that a case can be dismissed by the court for failure to proceed with prosecution after two successive terms of court.

US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, in a statement last Thursday, announced a public designation for Wonplo due to his involvement in “Significant corruption.”  “In his official capacity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2019, Mr. Wonplo was involved in passport fraud that undermined the rule of law, reduced the Liberian public’s faith in their government’s management of identification and travel documents, and compromised the integrity and security of immigration processes,” the Secretary of State said.

Additionally, Secretary Pompeo said, “I am announcing the public designation of his spouse, Dennice Wonplo, and their minor children. This designation reaffirms U.S. commitment to standing with the people and government of Liberia in their fight against corruption.  The Department will continue to use these authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.”

According to the US Secretary of State, the designation is made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94).  “Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Pitiful and stupid! You are only acting because the US has taken action. How belated and short-witty! You need to arrest Tweah and McGill and leave us who work our butts off to process your crocrogee passports. You know what happened and should not pretend!!!

  2. Why are these people disgracing Liberia?
    Where Ghanaians, Nigerians, Ivorians, coming from to be selling Liberian passports?
    What’s a shame?
    Corrupt judges and their families should be barred from entering the US!

  3. This Edward Martin fellow must have some vendetta with this lady. To the extent he wasn’t simply interested in executing his official in arresting the lady, but that she be handcuffed and journalists called to take her picture in handcuff? Moreover, that he personally escorted the lady to prison in his personal vehicle? Why would any person of law go that far in treating an accused, someone just accused and not yet found guilty in such punitive and bizarre manner? This case is prejudiced and compromised by Cllr. Edward Martin’s extra-judicial action in this case. The Ministry of Justice or LNBA ought to investigate this unusual and outlandish action of this other “County Attorney” towards this lady. And for $30,000? Not so much the amount but compared to the millions lost to the unbriddled pilfering thagt have dogged us for eons? Just as aggressive as “Cllr. Martin” is with this suspect, he too, deserves prompt and aggressive investigation into his bizarre conduct in this case.

  4. you fools going after passports while you leave the $25 million rogues and free the $16 billion theives. in liberia you steal a cocoanut you go to jail you sell a passport you go to jail. but steal $25 million and you are free

  5. …On second thought, does this case even fall within the purview of the County Attorney of Montserrado, and not the Solicitor General of Liberia? As I see it, though the crime was allegedly committed in Montserrado County, however it happens to be governmental, something in the ambit of the state, which is far above the pay grade of the County Attorney. It should therefore be the the Ministry of Justice through the Solicitor General prosecuting this case and not this overzealous cowboy-general. Same way it is the Liberian National Police that has jurisdiction in most crime situations in Monrovia, and not the Monrovia City Corporation or its police force. The MCC deals with city ordinances and all other criminal matters are deferred to the LNP.

    So why is this so-called County Attorney Martin, exerting himself so wantonly in this case? This malicious and outlandish treatment of Ms. Sory is unprecidented! Instructing his underlings to invite the press to witness her arrest; display her to the press in handcuff; drive her straight to the Central Prison in his personal vehicle, etc., etc. Whereas the lady is simply a suspect in an allegation that was in fact once dismissed by the court for lacking evidentiary reliance.

    If County Attorney Martin could treat Ms. Sory as already guilty even before she has her day in court, we can’t imagine her fate if she is found guilty after the trial. She might be paraded on Broad St. naked. As for Andrew Wonplo, the prime suspect in this case, he better turn himself over to some bishop for excursion to the police before “General Martin” lays hands on him.

    This weird and bizarre conduct of Cllr. Martin in this case exemplifies one thing, that he has been craving the opportunity to impress his bosses at the MOJ for whatever the self-aggrandizing ambition. The mistreatment of Ms. Sory on the other hand, just happens to be the straw that exposes his ineptitude as a lawyer. God not sleeping.

    • Retrospect this below, and you abandon your ”second thought” for good, Peter!

      County Attorney Challenges Bond Posted By Sherman and Tyler

      May 30, 2016 By Zeze Ballah

      MONROVIA, Montserrado – Reports gathered by The Bush Chicken say Montserrado County Attorney Daku Mulbah has filed a motion before the judge of Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice challenging criminal appearance bonds posted by Senator Varney Sherman and House Speaker Alex Tyler.

      The two top government officials were indicted on bribery charges related to the Global Witness report.

      According to reports from Mulinda T. Mulbah, a journalist who was following the developments, Daku Mulbah challenged both bonds on grounds that they are defective.

      The motion was filed late Friday evening and seeks to incarcerate the pair until the trial.

      Tyler’s bond was insured by Sky International Insurance Corporation for US$150,000 while the bonds for Sherman, Jones, and Onanuga were collectively insured by Omega Insurance Company for US$1.5 million.

      More details about the exact nature of Daku Mulbah’s challenge are expected shortly.

  6. Redo of the passport director case on the same offense is a double jeopardy in law which is inadmissable!

    The judicially needs overhaul!

  7. President William R. Tolbert Jr. was killed for “Rampant Corruption”.

    But, President George Manneh Weah is being praised for appointing a Foreign Fraudster run LACC…???
    Maybe Weah will be prosecuted for promoting “some kind of” corruption one fine day.

    ###

    What goes up must come down — no matter how long it takes.

  8. Some body, tell me how did these foreigners got the job in our government especially dealing with passport. These people should not just be arrested but deported immediately

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