... In US$25K Economic Sabotage Case
After numerous delays, the grand jury of Montserrado County has finally indicted the suspended passport director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrew D. Wonplue, and a Nigerian national, Adedoyin E. Atiro, on charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy.
The indictment, announced by Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin, comes after months of delays to bring the suspended passport director as well as his Nigerian co-conspirator before Criminal Court ‘C’, to determine if there is enough evidence for the two to go on trial.
A judicial source has confided in the Daily Observer that the court has issued a writ of arrest against Wonplue and Atiro, though the pair were currently freed on bail.
If convicted, as currently charged, Wonplo and Atiro will face a potential maximum sentence of over 10 years in prison, a source told this newspaper.
Prosecutors previously alleged that Wonplue accepted as much as US$25,000 from non-Liberians, who they contended had paid bribes through Atiro to obtain Liberian passports.
In August 2019, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) claimed that Wonplue, at the time he was serving as a director of passport, was entrusted with 4,250 pieces of blank passports to be used only by Liberians.
“In Wonplue’s capacity as director of passports, at the same time, charged with the responsibility to protect the image and dignity of the country, [he] purposely signed and issued several pieces of passports to co-defendant Atiro,” the indictment alleges.
Thereafter, the court record claimed, Wonplue, without a sense of remorse, began to sell some of the passports to non-Liberians within and outside the country.
To actualize his alleged scheme, the document alleges, Wonplue instructed Atiro to issue a fake receipt in the amount of US$1,000 to one of their victims, who has been identified as Sarah D. Washington, on July 16 this year.
“The defendants received from Washington and others the sum of US$25,000 by defrauding the government of its needed revenue,” the indictment said.