Insisting on Innocence?

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Former Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar M. Findley: “I am willing to submit to any form of investigation, whether in Liberia or internationally, over the ongoing alleged sale of Liberian diplomatic Passports...”

— Former Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley vows to submit to Investigation in & out of Liberia; claims that President Weah, also, is innocent

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, has claimed that the allegation that he participated in the sale of Liberian passports to foreigners around the world is a baseless and trashy allegation.

Findley, in frantic efforts to clear his name, told a press conference yesterday after Henry Costa, a fierce critic of the government, had released photos of Findley presenting a certificate of Honorary Consul General to a Nigerian National to represent the Republic of Liberia in Mexico.

According to Findley, the allegations from Costa, Wonplo and others that he participated in the sale of Liberian passports are all false and intend to tarnish his good public service track records.

Findley, who has been on the counter-attack lately to clear his name in the midst of the Passport saga, has been engaging the media for the past few days to ensure that his name is cleared or give his side of the story.

The issue is not only damaging to Findley’s portfolio as the nation’s recent former top diplomat, but also to his senatorial campaign in Grand Bassa, where he is running against incumbent Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.

In his press conference held early Sunday afternoon in Buchanan, Findley read a statement that was less than three minutes long, claiming that, at no time did he ever instruct or authorize the former Director of Passports, Andrew Wonploe to sell the government of Liberia passports. Rather, “it was due to proper oversight of the affairs the Ministry that the criminal conspiracy was busted, resulting in Andrew Wonplo’s subsequent suspension and investigation by the National Security Agency,” Findley said.

Amb. Findley furthermore narrated that, contrary to allegations by Costa, Wonploe and others, Honorable Counsel General positions were not sold, but based on proper vetting, which was done in keeping with the laws and procedures of Liberia and with the involvement of the National Security Agency (NSA).

“For the record, I did not instruct the former passport director to trade a Liberian passport to a non-Liberian. While serving as Minister, all Honorary Consuls were commissioned and issued diplomatic passports based on proper vetting by the government in compliance with international protocol and laws,”

On Saturday evening, September 26, Costa in a Facebook live podcast alleged that Liberia’s Honorary Consul General to Mexico, Akintunde Ojo, had earlier been denied a Liberian diplomatic passport in 2014, during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. According to Costa, the administration of President George Weah, however, opted to grant Mr. Ojo said status through the sale of the consular post for US$250,000.

As for Wonploe, who has not spoken since Findley’s first response last week, said in an unsigned release and audio recording that former Minister was the person who represented the Liberian Government under President Weah to illegally issue Liberian passports to foreigners around the world.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, often acts in the place of the Chief Executive (i.e. President Weah) when it comes to the issuance of diplomatic passports.  My fellow Liberians, CDCians and foot soldiers of the cause, please be informed that the passport scarcity was planned illegally and executed by the Government of Liberia represented by Gbehzohngar Milton Findley.  Gbehzohngar is currently using proceeds from said illegal transactions to fund his campaign,” Wonplo’s statement said.

However, according to Findley Wonplo’s allegation is far from the truth. According to the former Minister, his innocence is validated by that the fact that the investigation from the NSA clearly indicts Wonplo and co-conspirators stationed in Ghana and some staff members of the passport section jointly working with him in carrying out the criminal conspiracy.

“Wonplo did not act alone but rather it was a conspiracy between a Nigerian individual stationed in Ghana and some staff members of the passport section jointly working with Andrew Wonplo in carrying out the criminal conspiracy.

“The issue of these missing passports is not a strange issue to me because, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I initiated a full-scale investigation conducted with the involvement of the NSA. Let me assure Liberians and the world that Liberian passports are safe, and we kept the integrity of our international passports and credentials safe,” Findley said.

Meanwhile, former Minister Findley has also refuted claims by Mr. Wonplo that he was instructed by President George Weah to sell the passports to non-Liberians.

“The issuance of Passports is the sole prerogative of the Minister and not the President of Liberia, as spell out by the former Passport Director Andrew Wonplo,” Findley maintained. “I am willing to submit to any form of investigation, whether in Liberia or internationally, over the ongoing alleged sale of Liberian diplomatic Passports and Honorable Counsel General positions,” he said.

Wonplo, who was re-indicted recently, earlier saw the case against him dropped by Judge Yamie Gbeisay of Criminal Court C due to prosecution’s failure to make a substantial follow-up on the case over the course of two terms of court. Wonplo was charged for allegedly defrauding the government of Liberia in the tune of US$25,000 for the illegal sale of passports to non-Liberians.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

10 COMMENTS

  1. A question mark following insisting on innocence – resulting in “Insisting on Innocence?” – speaks to unfair reporting and anti-establishment bias that have become mainstay of media business at home. Therefore, even though Minister Findley’s Office initiated the probe that got Wonpoe charged, and facing trial before escaping, this reporter referred to his statement as “claims”. In other words, the account of accused Wonpoe has been accorded believability.

    Most Liberian journalists forget that the same way police officers shouldn’t break the law to enforce the law, they, too, cannot ignore journalistic standards in the name of holding powerful people accountable. After all, their craft is more than writing essays; its ethical component guarantees them credibility. It was to avoid this grave responsibility Pedro Henry Costa rescinded the designation of journalist for that of an “activist” patriot unconscionably wishing for US aggression against Liberia over stolen passports: Rubbish.

    • Mr. Moses, and with such unprofessional and prejudicial misconduct totally anathema to the principles of journalism, and of course, malodorously disgusting journalism within the perimeters of the rule of law, and the dictates of professionalism, they want to still be seen as truthful and objective amid their prejudicial and deceptive misconducts!

  2. Issues involving accused misappropriation and illicit activities, should not become court matters in the Legislature for confirmation and senatorial elections. Lawmakers will be enhancing the duty of the Judiciary branch if a candidate or a confirmation hearing is used to interpret. The law of executive code and conduct has been already made. The reason why it is broken is left to the Judicial branch court, accused and accuser; not to a committee of law makers whose duty therewith is to accept or reject an election process or a selection made by the executive. An Executive officer should refuse arrest that should be the responsibility of the Judicial officer; vice versa. Show the people where they should carry their complaints and accused. We should therefore be careful with functions that overlap so as to maintain equality in the separation of powers in Liberia’s branch governance to avoid the stealing functions that initiated our civil crisis.

  3. Not only did those tyrants steal the people’s rights to be heard the destroy represented democracy in the republic; They destroyed good health, money, people, and infrastructures.
    Gone in silence to pray for this land. Liberia.

  4. Ladies and gentlemen, what do you expect? Here in this particular situation, I am sure you will have no hesitation with the fact that politics is at work! Had Findley gone into complete silence after his resignation from the Foreign Ministry, and bothered not to run against Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence, the sale of Liberian passports to non-Liberians wouldn’t have become an issue. This is not to suggest that it’s okay for Liberian passports to be sold to non-Liberians. However, the timing is of extreme significance. There’s no doubt that Sen. Lawrence is pulling the strings in order to damage her formidable opponent, Mr. Findley!

    In a tough senatorial fight as this, one would think that Sen. Lawrence’s most important weapon against Findley would be to contrast and compare a laundry list of her legislative accomplishments. But there seems to be no legislative accomplishment that Sen. Lawrence can point to. And so, the issue of bogus passport sales to non-Liberians has become an issue. The voters of Bassa county are smarter than that.

    By her actions, Sen. Lawrence is known to be a hot-tempered person! The spilling of water by the Senator in the “well” of the Senate is a case in point. Going beyond the issue of throwing a temper tantrum in terms of the water spill, Lawrence exclaimed a few months ago that “Liberia was sinking fast” under the leadership of George Weah. Sadly, Sen. Lawrence’s assertion was a break from reality! According to a reliable information which has been made available, Sen. Lawrence earns over $175,000 yearly in a country which “sinks fast”. Instead of saying that she and her legislative colleagues who serve in both Houses of the Liberian National Assembly, are to be blamed for”sinking Liberia fast” Sen. Lawrence used Weah as a scapegoat. Liberia may be sinking. But the legislators of Liberia (Sen. Lawrence is one of them) are the main enablers! Whereas public school students do not have lab equipments or enough desks to write on, the Liberian lawmakers earn exorbitant compensations without thinking about the youth of the country. It’s a shame and Sen. Lawrence Knows it!

    When people are elected, they are expected to sincerely serve their constituents. The idea of injecting passport sales in her re-election bid is an act of manipulation. The good people of Grand Bassa do not deserve to be insulted and manipulated as such. Sen. Lawrence’s nefarious tactic will blow up in her face.

    Peace

  5. [Rather, “it was due to proper oversight of the affairs the Ministry that the criminal conspiracy was busted, resulting in Andrew Wonplo’s subsequent suspension and investigation by the National Security Agency,” Findley said.]

    Really? Really? Really? Are you sure of what you have said here, Minister Findely?
    You are a pathological liar, like the likes of most CDCians! You can lie oooooooooh, Findely. If you don’t close your mouth small, God will slap you!

    The “passport gate” was known to the Liberian public when the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo openly placed sanctions on Mr. Wonplo and family from entering the USA due to the illicit selling of the Liberian passport to foreign nationals.
    Thereafter, the South Koreans seized more than 200 of our passports on a Liberian alleging to be related to some members of our “Council of Churches”.

    Giving the gravity of the situation and to cover the shame of the CDC government, we saw the Montserrado attorney general unlawfully entering the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrest pawns and innocent people whereas the real culprits, who have been sanctioned internationally, roamed freely in the streets of Monrovia spewing imbecilities at the aggrieved population.

    If a Nigerian can offer a person $250,000 for a diplomatic passport, can’t your common sense hint you on how much such person was benefiting from such a deal?

    No Liberian brought out this situation for any political reason/s. We must stop seeing politics everywhere when wrongs have been done.
    How can we say the Minister and the President are innocent if they preside over the ministry and the country respectively?
    There were even no checks-and-balances procedures to track passports that are being issued, or it was expressly ignored by them (CDCians).
    The president and minister Findley should be held responsible for this situation.

    Another embarrassment for decent Liberians traveling with our passports worldwide!

  6. He was either duped by the Presidency in their conspiracy against the nation, because of his dumb intentions not not to be involved by looking the other way , by playing the role of the three monkeys of see no evil being committed by the regime, speak no evil against the regime and hear no evi concerning. While still defending the regime of their conspiracy that brought in US thousands of dollars. The culture of passports sale has a long history. One which also was alleged that before becoming a Senator, Senator Varney Sherman was also involved in such act. Something he has since denied. That article about the Senator’s alleged in passport dealing was first published by Frontpageafrica. It took Madam Broh to bring the sale of the nation’s nationality documents under control. But George and his regime have instituted it , yet again. That is just in three years, and the selling of the nation’s nationality is back in full circle.

  7. James Davis

    Yes, James, you’re correct. I watched the involvement of Mr. Varney Sherman in an illegal passport deal during the administration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the documentary called the, “The Ambassador.”

    However, are these not some of the social evils, which Weah promised to the Liberian people, he would have corrected upon his ascendency to power? What happened now? The president and his administration have fallen into a state of “proactive inhibition”.

    Proactive inhibition occurs when an individual is so pre-occupied with previous events that he fails to see and learn the current lessons now. Weah and his administration cannot see the present evils because some occurred during the EJS’ administration. So, the logic is since some occurred under Ellen, Weah’s administration can do no wrong.

  8. With OIL about to be the most major source of Liberias economy, and Mexico being the seventeenth largest oil reserves in the world, and it is the fourth largest oil producer in the Western Hemisphere behind the United States, Canada and Venezuela, ANY OPINION that Liberia should not establish consular or diplomatic relations with Mexico, because “PRIOR TO OJO’S appointment, the only relationship on paper between the two countries was an August 23, 2002, international football friendly duel on US soil in which Liberia lost 5“, is both wrong and illogical, on top of been anathema to the phenomenon of NATIONAL INTEREST!

    For if such logic met conventional wisdom, or moral objectivism, or even moral or legal subjectivism, neither I vory Coast, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, or any other countries would have established diplomatic and or consular relations with GREAT MEXICO enjoying relations with nearly all countries of the United Nations. There is always a first step to any relations or venture!

    Secondly, ANY OPINION that because Neither Nigeria the home country of Mr. Akin Ojo and the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government did not grant him Akin Ojo diplomatic passport (as if diplomatic passports are a matter of divine or inheritance rights) a succeeding Liberian government should not have appointed Akin Ojo as honorary consul with dual diplomatic and consular status, even when the given government deems it necessary and or expedient as is an accepted doctrine in such relations, renders your opinion frothy to say the least.

    Also, FPAS headline that ”Granting Honorary Consul To Mexico To A Nigerian Was Wrong” is in contravention of and violative of Part 1, Article 1, Paragraph 3, of the Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discriminations (ICRD) under international law.

    This paragraph of that convention stipulates inter alia that singling out A PARTICULAR NATIONALITY (in this case a Nigerian nationality) is illegal and cannot be justified in anyway!

    And WHAT INTER ALIA PROVES US RIGHT is that the leading investigating news outlet of Liberia have insistently, meticulously, and abundantly, made categorically clear that as the leading investigating news organ of Liberia, the FPA have searched and searched and even burrowed into the extraordinary, but you have not found anything on Mr. Akin Ojo regarding what has now turned out to be BLATANT LIES from Henry Costa the fugitive.

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