A Trial of Scapegoats

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She ordered the printing of new Liberian dollar banknotes to shore up an economy which had, without question faltered under her watch. In the stellar case of the fraudulent ExxonMobil agreement negotiated under her watch, she scowled at Justice Minister Christiana Tah (by Tah’s own accounts) for daring to suggest that negotiations were being conducted outside the ambit of the 2001 New Petroleum law.

Investigators (names withheld) have told this newspaper that she must have been aware that excess banknotes were being printed and that daily monetary transactions at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) were deliberately not being recorded. She must have also been aware of all what was happening at the CBL especially concerning the printing of new banknotes.

There appears to be no iota of doubt in the public that she was being briefed on a regular and daily basis by her son on activities at the CBL. The record shows that the first batch of banknotes were brought into the country in the run-up to the October 2017 elections. It was during this period, the L$500 bill made its first-time appearance.

Public suspicion, high at the time that she was funneling some of that money to the opposition Congress/Coalition for Democratic Change were strenuously denied. But with thousands of Liberian senior and junior high school students flocking to the CDC headquarters in anticipation of having their WASSCE fees paid as promised by leading contender George Weah, the suspicion heightened amid widespread fears of the country going bust.

But in her farewell speech, she spared little words touting her success at securing debt relief and turning things around for the better in Liberia, stating that she was leaving behind US$150 million in the coffers. That claim was however later contested by President Weah following his assumption of office when news of missing Liberian dollar banknotes began to filter to the public.

Not too long afterwards news reports, quoting Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, that L$16 billion Liberian dollar banknotes had gone missing, prompted a “Bring Back Our Money” mass public demonstration. Later, CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu, in response to pubic disquiet, alleged that he had personally seen pick-up trucks loaded with boxes containing Liberian dollar banknotes being driven out of the CBL Waterside compound where some of its vaults are located.

Before then, Legislators had queried and raised questions about the sense in printing new Liberian dollar banknotes when her tenure was about to expire. Those concerns were raised by some Legislators, but their concerns went unheeded and CBL officials went full steam ahead to print new currency banknotes and introduced them into circulation.

When Information Minister Nagbe finally did announce that L$16 billion worth of
banknotes had gone missing, the puzzle began to unravel; and when the lid was finally blown off the pot, what was revealed was a rotten and stinking morass of corruption. Now out of office, virtually powerless, vulnerable, and feeling endangered and embarrassed by the criminal indictment of her son, former President Sirleaf appears to have left no stone unturned to have her son evade criminal accountability.

This can probably explain the various twists and turns in the trial of those accused of masterminding and executing the printing. Her son has been let off the hook. Some have since lost their lives under questionable circumstances which remain unresolved, while others have now been unfairly left to bear the shame and disgrace — carry the stink. Such developments have left the public with the impression that past and current officials simply “ate” the money and were doing every thing including the use of foul means to cover up.

This impression has been reinforced by the spate of private construction projects carried out by President Weah shortly after assuming office. According to informed sources at the CBL, former CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray’s refusal to allow investigators access to its bank vaults to do physical counting of cash, was driven by fears of exposing President Weah to public ridicule. And those CBL officials suspected of non-cooperation, according to a CBL source (name withheld), now in involuntary exile in the US, were simply eliminated.

However, many in the public feel President Sirleaf should also be on trial because she bears ultimate responsibility for the actions of her appointees. From all appearances, this trial is but a gross miscarriage of justice and is further impugning the already tattered image of the Liberian judiciary.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, King Claudius killed his own brother Hamlet, married his wife, Gertrude and usurped the throne; Gertrude, rather than being sad, is instead happy with the marriage. Horatio, a member of the Palace guard, upon seeing the ghost of the dead king Hamlet stalking the Palace grounds one night, asks Marcellus, an official of the Palace guard, what was the meaning of it.

Marcellus, in reply, quips: “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”, meaning the situation in Denmark was facing a rotten political situation akin to that of a fish which rots from head to tail and was explosive. It is used nowadays to describe political situations characterized by corruption, inappropriate action, unethical behavior and licentiousness.

The case of the missing 16bn Liberian dollar banknotes and the twists and turns in the ongoing criminal trial of those accused is a case of cover-up of a trail of outright theft of millions of dollars of the Liberian people’s money. And those CBL officials suspected of non-cooperation, according to a CBL source (name withheld) now in involuntary exile in the US were simply eliminated.

Corruption is snuffing out the life of Liberia and, if left unchecked, this nation shall more likely than not, pay a very heavy price to rid itself of this evil scourge. Liberians do not deserve such and this newspaper reiterates the call for full, not partial accountability in the case of the missing billions. What should be a fair, just and transparent trial of accused individuals has instead become a charade — a trial of scapegoats.

Something must indeed be very rotten in the State of Denmark!

11 COMMENTS

  1. True Nationalist, with keyboard cleaned, oiled, and ready for your masterful strokes, please, take the first shot. And I’m talking about critical analysis, which includes refutation of claims you disagree with, not the usual “condemnation”.

  2. Mr. Moses, we are committed to facts and are not swayed by “critical analysis” which are personal feelings or biases – the spirit and letter of this tale which cannot pass the scrutiny of logic, commonsense, or conventional wisdom.

    What objective mind shall entertain such thought that an incumbent President would conspire with her successor to disgrace her son and son (the gov of CBL) of her late best friend (Mrs. Weeks) to financially support the very successor president?

    Read this clipping from this very paper and be your own judge:

    By David A. Yates

    The United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia has released an ‘Independent Review Report’ prepared by Kroll Associates Incorporated (Kroll), an auditing firm hired to investigate regarding allegations of the disappearance of new Liberian Dollar banknotes.

    According to the Kroll report, there was no money missing, as had been reported. It however identifies systemic and procedural weaknesses at the CBL and shortcomings in Liberia’s fiscal and monetary management processes that are longstanding and continue to the present day.

  3. True Nationalist

    Thanks for taking the initial shot, nonetheless, the meat of critical analysis is evidence, not opinions. A point emphasized in this modifier, “which includes refutation of claims you disagree with”. Ironically, although not convincingly, you tried to do exactly that, and I like it.

  4. Excellent point, Sylvester Moses. Excellent.

    But, Mr. True Nationalist is going to say that it is evidence, because he believes in it.

    Wait and see.

  5. True Nationalist

    This well-written editorial with an eagle’s eye to purpose, audience, and tone is a good example of effective communication. It traces CBL’s fraudulent behavior to the preceding regime through factual presentation, hence establishing a non-partisan, fair, and accurate reporting credential in keeping with journalistic standards. I hope that our twelfth grade, first year college, and mass communication tutors will use this piece where necessary in teaching persuasive essay writing.

    More significantly, on the main issue relating to shenanigan of our Criminal Justice System, aptly referred to as “Trial of Scapegoats”, the author put his big toe in critical thinking by skillfully using argumentation and persuasion. Although you chose to quarrel with the editorial, you cannot deny that the writer’s evidence-based appeals to logic, emotion, and moral value are “off the chain”, if I may.

    To end, our author echoed what the downtrodden have been wrestling with about the CBL saga. And these are the people for whom the PPAD was prepared and unveiled. In other words, the editorial is giving voice to the voiceless, not inciting them to violence, therefore its message shouldn’t be dismissed as anti-establishment propaganda. With the past as a reminder, let us help our political leaders with honesty – not flattery – to succeed for peace in Liberia.

  6. Mr. Sylvester Moses, as a mass political communicator, I am of both the divergent opinion, and indeed, opposing view, that in order “to help our political leaders with honesty – not flattery – to succeed for peace in Liberia”, we must commit the intellectual abomination and academic sacrilege of confusing journalism with creative writing.

    S. G. Moses, such an infidelity to knowledge and truth, is anathema to the world of academia, and the excellence in communication!

    The former, journalism relies absolutely on the truth, facts, current events, and knowledge!!! While the latter, creative writing, is based on art, fiction, and imagination-the premise, name, motive, nature, intent, character, lifeblood, purpose, spirit, argument, and letter of this tale-“A Trial of Scapegoats.”

    A subscriber of credible domestic and international papers as Financial Times, New African, Guardian WEEKLY, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the Economist, Newsweek, Time, etc. etc. I feel pity for my country when I see editors, reporters, or contributors, making our Liberian Press the laughing stock of the sub region!

  7. True Nationalist, or friend now that we are having a cordial and mutually beneficial conversation, the editorial is an opinion piece, which uses the medium of essay, not “creative writing”. As a combative arguer, you’re tempted to prolong the dialogue. However, my last comment left no doubt that I was talking about journalism; especially so, its ethical practice which the piece exhibits.

  8. Intellectual comrade militant, Sylvester Gbayahforh Moses, an opinion piece which (though not actually an editorial) generally takes the form of an editorial. Hence, we expected more from the writer! Can anyone in his or her right mind ever believe that the late great Rufus Darpoh, Stanton Peabody, or Kenneth Best, would write such opinion piece void of logic, and lacking factual, researched or first-hand information? NEVER!

    Take for example, William G. Nyanueś opinion piece on “political patronage and survival of the nation” which I vehemently disagree with, but nevertheless, actually respect his opinion piece, despite the voicing of my divergent views and opposition to his claims! And that is, because Nyanueś opinion piece has absolutely no ligament to falsehood, despite its propagandistic nature and intended political manipulation!

    We ask you again, intellectual comrade militant: What objective mind shall entertain such thought that an incumbent President would conspire with her successor to disgrace her son and son (the gov of CBL) of her late best friend (Mrs. Weeks) to financially support the very successor president???????????????????????????????????????????????????

    In other words,while it is true that on a planet where relativism reigns supreme, journalists cannot always guarantee the actual truth, nonetheless they have to take into account that IT IS A MUST that they get their facts right; for truth and accuracy- THE cardinal principle of journalism is the sine qua non of the right of the people to know!

    So, as intellectual comrade militants and mass political communicators, we shall “split hairs” and burrow into matters that are, or ligated to the five principal types of journalism – investigative, news, reviews, columns and of course, feature writing-an opinion piece.

    Hence, an opinion piece must be based on factual, researched or first-hand information; and not imaginations, disinformation, propaganda, speculations, or some truths mixed with falsehood and inaccuracies! This is exactly what this so called “opinion piece” asserts and demonstrates!

    Common examples, ITS outright misleading info that the Information Minister said 16.b was missing, even after the very minister debunked that info! Another spot where this so called opinion piece violated or contaminated the peopleś right to know is seen hereunder:

    NO MISSING MONEY – US/FBI/KROLL REPORT

    By David A. Yates

    The United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia has released an ‘Independent Review Report’ prepared by Kroll Associates Incorporated (Kroll), an auditing firm hired to investigate regarding allegations of the disappearance of new Liberian Dollar banknotes.

    According to the Kroll report, there was no money missing, as had been reported. It however identifies systemic and procedural weaknesses at the CBL and shortcomings in Liberia’s fiscal and monetary management processes that are longstanding and continue to the present day.

  9. President Weah must be blame for all of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf madness in terms of corruption. Was it difficult to audit her out going administration? I will say no but he refused to conduct a simple audit. Ellen knew the stupidity of George Weah and play her cards by holding on to aces and he played it to her tone. Everything bad and dirty about Ellen Johnson administration now reflected on president George Weah because, he failed to do the right thing which was a “simple audit”, to be precise. President Weah should blame himself for being used as scapegoat and no body else.

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