Except for a select few, no one would have known or ever imagined that when President Sirleaf stepped off the plane to deliver a quit-claim message from ECOWAS to former Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh, she was stepping into familiar territory and that she allegedly already had Gambian operatives secretly handling Liberia’s financial matters from a discreet location in Banjul as disclosed to this paper recently by a well-known individual in that country (name withheld).
Who in Liberia would have ever imagined that a sitting Liberian President of “impeccable” renown would allegedly run secret financial operations from Banjul and who would have imagined that President Sirleaf’s alleged close links to Equatorial Guinea dictator Obiang Teodore would have one day figured highly in Jammeh’s decision to seek refuge in that country (Equatorial Guinea) and, more importantly, who would have imagined, a few months earlier, that such tumultuous events would have ever occurred in the Gambia?
But some questions, seemingly hard to answer continue to linger. For instance, why did she and who would have imagined that President Sirleaf would choose to manage the country’s finances from a personal office located in faraway Banjul, the Gambia and managed as well by Gambians? What kind of secret money arrangements were made from that location and to whose benefit they were made remain unknown to date.
But it beats the imagination, come to think about it, for who would have imagined that she would be awarded tons of accolades for her perceived great contributions to Liberia when on examination of the raw facts, she, according to critics, emerges as an accomplice and facilitator to the pillage and looting of the national treasury.
Sixteen billion US dollars of direct foreign investment flowed into the country during her 12-year tenure. The flawed economic policy prescriptions she embraced and the policies she pursued congruent to those policies served to ensure that more Liberians fell into the vicious cycle of poverty in which millions were already entrapped.
Sixty-six (66) out of sixty-eight (68) concession agreements signed under her watch were bogus and did not meet the tests of transparency. Through illegal bribe inducement, it is alleged, she managed to have the 66 bogus agreements receive Legislative approval.
In the now controversial case involving the printing and subsequent disappearance of sixteen (L$16bn) billion Liberian dollar banknotes, CBL authorities claimed to have received official go-ahead based on Legislative endorsement on close examination turned out to be a hoax.
The so-called legislative authority turned out to be nothing more than statements signed individually by the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate. In her perception perhaps, both signatures constituted Legislative approval and based on that marching orders were issued to proceed with the printing of the banknotes.
But, since the founding of the Republic and subsequent declaration of independence in 1847 and adoption of a Constitution, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has always been the head of the body as provided for in both the 1847 and 1986 Constitutions of Liberia.
Never ever and under no President since independence, probably except for President Sirleaf has such anomalous situation obtained where legislative approval has been authorized under the respective signatures of the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate. Policy implementation pursued along such lines of flawed logic led to deeper trouble and, in some cases, a crisis of constitutional proportions.
Against this backdrop, questions are being asked repeatedly just how this government can successfully prosecute accused individuals In the missing L$16 billion case when President Sirleaf under whose watch and authority the notes were printed is not being called to account. President Weah should studiously avoid this kind of misstep by either allowing the law to take its full course which will exclude no one not even a former President, or let the case go on, arrive at a verdict, and then pardon.
It is alleged, though, that the printing of the banknotes also bears some link to the secret Banjul safe house from where official Liberian state financial arrangements were being managed. Is President Weah prepared to go that far with investigations in order to lay this matter to rest? His failure to go far enough by allowing investigators to conduct a physical count of money held in CBL’s vaults in the case of the alleged missing L$16 billion suggests he may not be prepared to go that far.
And so, probably the best option, under the circumstances, is to let the matter die for now but with no prejudice to the state unlike the Court’s dismissal of charges against Charles Sirleaf with prejudice to the state. Such matters could be pursued at a later date but, for now, President Weah has to get on to the task of governance in which the likes of criminally minded individuals like Shaw, Nwabudike and others should have their rightful place behind bars.
Here, some may say such is simply wild imagination which could never happen in present day Liberia. Yet they remain tongue-tied when asked if they had ever imagined that individuals once perceived to have been so powerful — the likes of Saddam, Khaddafi, Doe, Taylor, Mobutu, Idi Amin, Park Chung Hee, Marcos, etc, would all be in the dustbin and garbage yards of history today?
Yes, who amongst the Minneapolis Police trio nor in Washington or on Capitol Hill would have imagined that a Police single encounter with George Floyd that day would have virtually turned the world upside down? Just who would have imagined that the case of the alleged missing L$16 billion banknotes would have taken on such unexpected twists and turns? And who can imagine President Weah in an abrupt about-turn seriously taking on the vicious scourge of corruption, and taking real charge? Imagination, wishful thinking one may say, but it is imagination anyway.