By Julius T. Jaesen, II
The gross abuse or misuse of a nation’s passports is most times tied to terrorist financing and money laundering. In a nation like Liberia where poverty is pervasive and corruption is at an endemic level, corrupt leaders exploit their country and sell diplomatic passports to terrorists and money launderers who may want to enjoy their ill-gotten and illicit wealth in another country without being tracked down. And certainly, Liberia is a fragile and fertile ground for terrorists to achieve their goals so easily.
Most times, terrorists look for a weak country like Liberia and many others situated in our position to settle. The proceeds of ill-gotten wealth are often hidden abroad and outside the country where the illegal acts happened. Taking funds across borders makes tracing the money harder and often provides the corrupt with better financial returns. These assets can be laundered through legitimate businesses, real estate, luxury goods, financial investments and other payments (such as tuition costs)
Most of our leaders from the presidency down to the poor civil servants and the ordinary police and immigration officers are seemingly corrupt in the discharge of their functions. Every day, we watch and see foreigners illegally entering our country without legal documents and bribing underpaid police and immigration officers assigned to our borders.
We even watched a video recording of our government’s officials done by a Danish journalist, Mark Cortzen, who upon hearing how volatile and corrupt our country and its public officials are, brought in US$150,000.00 and bribed his way through to buy Liberia’s diplomatic passport to represent our country in the Central African Republic.
In an embarrassing video recording, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Togar Macintosh, was caught begging the Danish journalist for a pair of shoes. The journalist also bribed Senator Varney Sherman then Chairman of the former ruling Unity Party. This just shows how susceptible to all sorts of disgrace and shame our country is to the outside world.
With all this embarrassing news that have tainted and riddled our country’s image amongst the comity of nations, yet still, we have not departed from this habit of misusing and abusing the issuance of our diplomatic passports.
When Weah assumed the presidency in 2018, many Liberians believed then that he would fight against corruption that has become so cancerous to our nation’s growth. But today, George Weah has become the biggest beneficiary of state-organised corruption.
Pundits believe that George Weah is the one who has been selling our country diplomatic passports to his Arab terrorists, and having been exposed, he wants to use the former passport Director, Andrew Wonploe, as a sacrificial lamb.
Since the inception of Weah’s presidency, we have witnessed the entrance of strange people believed to be terrorists and money launderers into our country. They are buying properties and investing in real estates and businesses in Weah and some of his close family member names.
“No wonder when we saw Weah and few of his cabinet rogues struggled to take loans from two notable terrorist organisations, Elton and Ebomaf”, pundits asserted.
Disgustingly, Liberians home and abroad have become wondering whether in truth and indeed, Weah is a country giant or a country rogue. From what the Parrot has gathered, the latter can best describe Weah. Liberians are now convinced that Weah is a country rogue and not a country giant.
A country giant takes giant-size steps to move his country forward. But a one that loots and plunders his country at the expense of the tolerance of the people to rise against the government, is nothing less than a country rogue.
Weah and his government must stop resting the blame on Andrew Wonploe alone. We are aware that privileged or diplomatic passports are done only through authorisation from the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this case, pundits believe that Weah and his then Minister, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, sold the Liberian passports. Therefore, they are calling the United States government to place travel bans on Weah and his accomplices.
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