Information Minister Rennie Lies at will, Flip Flops on Accused Money Launderer Bassirou Kante’s Support to Bicentennial Celebration

Monrovia – When news broke that famous Nigerian musical duo, twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye – better known by their stage name P- Square have been invited by the Government of Liberia to perform at ceremony marking the official launch of Liberia’s Bicentennial celebration at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on February 14, 2022 at an exorbitant cost, several local Liberian artists expressed disillusionment against the decision.

Several of them including multiple award winning Gospel musical artist Kanvee Gaines Adams and rapper MC Caro blasted the government for not valuing and supporting its own home grown artists.

They questioned why the government would give such an amount to foreign musicians rather than supporting the local artists here. Many also claimed the government was being insensitive to the plights of Liberians who were experiencing economic hardship.

In the wake of the backlashes, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information and the Bicentennial Steering Committee clarified that the invitation of P-Square and the cost associated with their performance were all engineered and supported by a friend of the Government, Businessman Sheik  Bassirou Kante, the CEO of  ROYAL Liquor Store and Brown’s Trucking Handing Services Enterprise.

The head of the Bicentennial Steering Committee, Information Minister Julius Ledgerhood Rennie stated back then: “I want to be very clear that the Bicentennial Steering Committee did not fund or solicit any international artist’s participation at the grand launch. It was simply a humanitarian gesture by an individual who thought that he wanted to reach out to Liberians to show his own gratitude in appreciation of the celebration of Liberia’s Bicentennial.”

Minister Rennie was buttressed by the Committee’s Co-Chairman, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee. “We want to state accurately that what is being paraded on social media about our artists is not true. At no point in time have we ignored our brothers and sisters to go and bring international artists to perform. What is being paraded is not true. This is the effort of an individual who is very happy about the Bicentennial and as his contribution, contacted the artists who have agreed to participate,” Koijee stated.

With these responses, Kante who is currently in detention in the United States awaiting trial for alleged wire fraud, was treated as a very special guest and a friend of the Liberian Government. He was seen playing active role in the event; appearing at almost every major occasion marking the grand launch of the bicentennial.

He was seeing wining and dining with the top guns of this administration including President George Manneh Weah and his Vice President, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor. According to US investigators based on thread of emails obtained from Kante’s laptop, the indictee have had close proximation to the powers that be.

From the grand launch at SKD to a state banquet hosted by President George Weah at the refurbished Executive Mansion and other side events at the President’s Jamaica Resort – evidence of footages and pictures taken during these events – the disgraced Liberian businessman was everywhere.

The Denial, Falsehood And Dissociation

Despite Kante’s closeness to the current administration and immense support he rendered, the Government of Liberia and key associates continued to distance themselves from him after “his fall from grace.”

And no one is trumpeting these ‘hypocrisies and lies’ more than Information Minister Rennie.

Speaking at a Ministry of Information press briefing recently, Minister Rennie denied reports that the Government of Liberia received huge sum of money from criminal defendant Kante.

Rennie’s denial came as Kante’s financial transactions record show that he paid US$100,000 to the Nigerian stars for their performance. And that the money was transferred from his GT Bank Account titled: Royal Gold Trading Inc. with account number: 020101240890020001000.

At the press briefing, the information Minister said the committee was never informed officially about the duo’s performance. He said it was only in the 11th hour that they were aware.

In similar development, Minister Rennie was also caught telling blatant lies to the world in relations to the death of the four auditors who were found dead under strange circumstances

He said: “Mr. Bassirou on his own, decided that, with the euphoria of the bicentennial, he was going to hire the services of the Nigerian musicians to bring them here to perform at the bicentennial. We didn’t know about it; he never communicated with us. In the 11th hour, he contacted us that P- Square is already here and we said ok, we have our local artists here and they will join the process.”

He Continued: “This is the extent of the involvement of that man, Bassirou with the government, but a 100,000, Where? We want to be emphatically clear, if anybody have evidence that we received US$100,000, I challenged them. They should bring it.  We did not receive anything. If there is any benefits then that’s the fact that P-Square came and performed alongside our musicians. In terms of financial reward, that’s complete breeze, [da lie], no money was given us. If Bassirou gave anybody money, we ain’t know about it. We never had meeting with him, we never contacted him, nothing.”

Meanwhile, Minister Rennie, the former Liberia Broadcasting System Director continues to receive backlashes in the wake of his comments. A wide segment of the public including observers and Bicentennial followers believe that the Minister was not sincere when he said Bassirou, who was recently celebrated by top administration’s officials including the Bicentennial Steering Committee for his support, did not inform the government officially.

Others termed Rennies’ account that his committee was contacted by Bassirou in the 11th hour as false, given the fact he and Major Koijee began clarifying about P-Square’s performance almost two weeks prior to the main event on February 14, 2022.

“How can a man be holding an official passport and brought in a musician for the bicentennial and you claiming that you have no relationship or have never worked with him? This is not a sincere statement coming from you Ledgerhood,” a social media user identified as Jacob Tull wrote in response to the Minister. Tull added, “Ledgerhood, you are a weak information minister I have ever seen. They need to send you back to ELBC to manage that station.”

Another blogger, DGod Grace added, “Why Government did not come out to inform the public when it was all circulating in the news that Bassirou gave 100,000 USD to the government?”

“How will you accept an offer from someone you are not working with? According to Liberian law, the receiving party is also a criminal,” quipped James Davis.

And Babara Cooper, in two words, accompanied by several laughing emoji, described the Minister’s response as “The theatrics.”

For now, the likes of Minister Rennie and his Bicentennial Steering Committee, and all those who were or are Kante’s associates may be able to distance themselves from the embattled businessman and self-styled philanthropist by either speaking out loudly, or by keeping quiet.

However, as Kante has vowed to cooperate with investigators and speak out the truth, even if it means spilling out the names of his accomplices and co-conspirators to save him from long prison sentence, only time will tell who is telling the truth and who’s lying.

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