The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has dismissed with immediate effect, five personnel of its Internal Security Bureau (ISB) for their alleged involvement in corrupt activities at the Ministry.
The five ISB officers were dismissed for purportedly extorting monies from members of the public in an effort to facilitate the processing Liberian passports.
The decision to dismiss them followed an intense and careful investigation conducted by the ISB, which according to a Foreign Ministry release, proved that the five security officers extorted money from passport applicants.
The release named the five officers as Agents Francis Sieh, Joseph Davis, Washington Waylee, Dadial Freeman and Olton Nyanfoh.
The Foreign Ministry statement said the decision to dismiss the five security personnel is in line with Chapter 4 Section 4.2.2(h) (Dishonesty in the Conduct of the Government Business) of the Standing Order of the Civil Service.
According to MFA, the action of the five security agents brings the integrity of the Internal Security Division into question and also has the potential to negatively reflect the image of the Ministry at a time when it is exerting all efforts to improve the passport service delivery system.
There have been repeated complaints from members of the public about extorting money from them by some security personnel and other personnel of the Ministry to process passports far above the approved passport price of 23 United States Dollars.
Meanwhile, in order to enhance the integrity of the passport issuance process, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has ordered the placement of suggestion boxes in the Passport Division for the public to report any attempt to extort money from them.
The Ministry urges the public to follow the passport guidelines posted on its website (www.mofa.gov.lr) or the guidelines placed on large bulletins in the Passport Section.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains that the price for all versions Liberian Passport issued locally remains at US$23.00 and that any decision to increase the price of a passport will be communicated to the public.
This extortion saga brings to two the number of corruption sagas that have hit the foreign Ministry in less than three weeks.
It may be recalled that three senior Foreign Ministry officials were recently suspended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on June 8, 2014.
The three officials, according to President Sirleaf, were suspended on reports of their involvements in financial impropriety.
Those suspended were, Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Una Kumba Thompson, Consul-General Consulate of the Republic of Liberia in New York, William G. Greaves, Jr. and, Comptroller of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,James G. Quiqui.
They are to be turned over to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for further investigation. Their suspensions take immediate effect and remain in force until they exonerate themselves through the pending investigations.