Counselor David A. B. Jallah pulled no punches when he delivered to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf his comprehensive and no nonsense report last weekend on allegations by the National Security Agency (NSA) of money laundering, counterfeiting, illegal arrest and conspiracy to defraud , involving some Korean nationals, a Lebanese and the NSA.
Counselor Jallah was head of a Special Independent Committee (SIC) constituted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to investigate the matter.
In his report to the President, Cllr. Jallah and his Committee recommended that the NSA operatives who were directly involved with the arrest of the Korean and Sierra Leonean nationals, and co-conspirators, be handed over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.
The NSA operatives were unnamed but the Jallah Committee further recommended that appropriate administrative action be taken against those involved. The NSA is headed by the President’s step son, Fumba Sirleaf.
The President received the Committee’s Report and immediately forwarded it to the Ministry of Justice for review and appropriate actions, including all of the recommendations contained in the report. These recommendations are to be taken into consideration consistent with law.
The background of the case is that on July 8, 2014 some Koreans were arrested by NSA officers at a guest house on Old Road, Monrovia. In their complaint to the court following the incident, they alleged that during their arrest, their money, amounting to US$247,500 and other valuables, including their wallets containing money and credit cards, were confiscated by the NSA officers. This was done without a search warrant.
In a release subsequently issued, the NSA claimed that the money seized from the Asians was counterfeit. But the Koreans maintained that the money had been transferred from their home in South Korea to the International Bank (IB) in Monrovia. It was upon receipt of the money from IB that the Koreans said they proceeded to the Old Road guest house where the NSA arrested them.
In its recommendations, the Jallah Committee said administrative action should be taken against the five NSA officers involved in the case; that they be prosecuted by the MOJ; and that GOL refund to the Korean nationals the full amount of US$247,500 which they withdrew from IB on July 8, 2014.
Though we have not yet seen the report, we think we can safely conjecture that Cllr. Jallah, being a reputable lawyer and dean of the University of Liberia’s Louis Grimes School of Law, must have contacted the IB to ensure that the money in question was legitimate and not counterfeit. After all, since Jallah headed a Presidential Investigative Committee, IB’s ethical principle of confidentiality did not apply.
We believe the President, who has herself admitted that corruption in both government and the Liberian society is “endemic,” has an excellent opportunity to set an example by prosecuting the NSA operatives involved in offenses which clearly are in violation of the Liberian Constitution and ethical principles governing all government institutions.
What is surprising to us at this point in time is that the Director General of the National Security Agency, Fumba Sirleaf, has not yet resigned, knowing full well how badly his Agency has embarrassed his own government, and more particularly, his mother, the President.
Though he may or may not have been personally involved in the scandal, the fact remains that he is the head of the NSA and should, therefore, take personal responsibility for all that happened.