THE LIBERIAN PASSPORTS GATE: U.S. Embassy near Monrovia was misled in the Public Designation of Mr. Andrew Wonplo, ANOTHER COVER-UP?
MONROVIA – The electoral or campaign slogan of the recent past candidate in the U.S. Elections of 2016, was “Make America Great Again”, which subsequently became an “America first” agenda. The “America first” philosophy was embedded in the U.S. Government’s foreign policy when said candidate won the 2016 U.S. Presidential
Post, the authors wrote,
“During the 2016 election, Donald Trump campaigned on an “America first” philosophy — less foreign intervention, fairer trade deals and stronger borders. Over the first year of his presidency, the Trump administration made changes to several U.S. policies related to those issues…”
The U.S. government‘s policy, ‘less foreign intervention’ as part of the “America first” philosophy empirically resonated with “Strong Men” heading autocratic regimes around the world and those democratically elected governments in Africa and elsewhere that wanted to flex their authoritarian prowess or suppress their people gradually took advantage of this policy knowing the U.S. government will not police their actions. One may argue that this policy was misinterpreted by autocrats or pseudo-democratic governments in that it was not a license to carry out non-democratic tendencies (to put it nicely) against their people. Well, the horses have already left the barn. It may seem that consequence of the ‘less foreign intervention’ as described above, Liberians and the international community saw an increase in the wave of politically motivated or alleged government-sanctioned killings in Liberia under the leadership of President George Weah. For example, the brutal death of Matthew J. Innis, Deputy Director for Microfinance, Department of Regulation and Supervision at the Central Bank of Liberia; The killing of two of Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) employees: Albert Peters, Assistant
While the U.S. government’s “America first” philosophy was being fiendishly leveraged by autocratic regimes and democratically elected governments with repressive inclinations, the head of the U.S. government at the time’s transactional approach to dealing with U.S. allies and neighbors began to be adopted and implemented as a “diplomatic strategy” or policy by the administration. Greg Jaffe and Joshua Parlow reported in the Washington Post,
“In his phone calls with foreign leaders, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he is less interested in tending America’s long-term relationships than he is in short-term deals.”
This transitional approach by the then head of the U.S. government was allegedly adopted and used by past and current government officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in President Weah’s government to cover up years of illegal Liberia diplomatic passport sales.
Here’s what to know.
When Former Director Andrew D. Wonpolo was initially arrested by the Liberian government on the passport scandal, Mr. Gbezohngar Findley was the Minister of
Foreign Affairs at that time. Ex-Minister Findley said, “I am Minister Gbehzongar Findley, and I am your new Passport Director. Do not worry; you all will get your passport”, according to an article (“Liberia: Director of Passport Arrested by National
Security Agency for Allegedly Selling Liberian Passport to Foreigners”) published by Mr. Dodoo. While Mr. Wonpolo was out of office and under investigation, the sales and distributions of the Liberian Diplomatic Passports continued under Ex-Minister Findley leadership, with Cllr. Dewey Gray and Deputy Minister Fahnbulleh aiding the process according to sources at the Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, months later, presiding Judge Yarmie Quiqui Gbeisay dismissed all charges against Mr. Wonplo on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. According to our investigation, while Mr. Wonplo’s case was in court, the U.S. government through the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia engaged the Liberian government in the sales of the Liberian Diplomatic passports. And officials representing the Liberian government, namely: Mr. Gbezohngar
Findley (Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time), Mr. Eugene Nagbe (Former Minister of
Information) and Mr. Frank Musah Dean (Minister of Justice) informed the U.S. Embassy that
Mr. Wonpolo was the target of the criminal case involving the sales of the Liberian Diplomatic Passports. However, when charges against Mr. Wonplo were dismissed, the U.S. Embassy again engaged the Liberian government according to two people familiar with the story who work with the Liberian government and believe Mr. Wonplo was a victim of the entire passport scandal.
The engagement and questioning of the U.S. Embassy placed serious pressure on the Liberian government, as well as on key individuals (i.e., Mr. Gbezohngar Findley, Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill, Cllr. Deweh Gray, Mr. Henry Fahnbulleh, etc.) involved in the passport scandal.
The dismissal of charges against Mr. Wonplo meant the end of his suspension from office and the reinstatement of Mr. Wonpolo as Passport Director. If this were allowed to happen, it would have put additional pressure on the Liberian government and all those involved in the passport scandal as named above. Thus, an official of the Foreign Minister with inside knowledge informed us that Former Minister Gbezohngar Findley (A Corrupt and Recycled
Diplomat turned Politician as he is secretly referred to by current and former employees of the
Foreign Ministry), instructed Deputy Minister Henry Fahnbulleh (A One-time US-based retail Store Associate turned Diplomat overnight as he is secretly referred to in the Foreign Ministry) to escalate Mr. Wonplo’s case at the U.S. Embassy. Days later, the U.S. Department of State announced the Public Designation of Mr. Wonpolo.
These erroneous decisions that were taken on the part of the U.S. Embassy based on desperate information to cover up crimes and autocracies on the global front have now impacted and are affecting the life of an innocent man. Today, his life is on the line as he is suffering and dying as he has no means of catering for himself. A suffering man who is ill and has no means of financially caring for his personal needs, as well as his family. As Mr. Wonplo suffers so detrimentally and the confession by Deputy Minister Fahnbulleh to how Mr. Wonpolo got sanctioned with full knowledge of the U.S. Embassy and having full knowledge of the truth today, is unwilling to take instant action, the passport saga continues unabated even in the absence of Mr. Wonpolo. A couple of officials within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justices of the Republic of Liberia informed us under the condition of being anonymous, that “President Biden’s administration through the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia have the power to lift the erroneous public designation from Mr. Wonpolo. They can do that because it was done in the past for officials at the International Court (ICC), Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor. It is no embarrassment to revise the flawed decision then to have the blood of an innocent man on the hands of everybody.”
“Uncle Sam knows the truth; they know Andrew is innocent and they do not want to lift the public designation on him” according to another official at the Foreign Ministry.
The Impact of the Public Designation on the Lives of Mr. Andrew Wonplo’s Family.
Based on months of investigation and interviews, many employees, and our sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and elsewhere all expressed the unjustifiable or wrong way Andrew Wonpolo was treated and continued to be treated. Meanwhile, others questioned the reason why his kids were placed on the public destination list. These individuals and employees indicated that there is no reason to link the alleged crime to his family. Our investigative team reached out to Mr. Wonpolo regarding the public designation and its impact on his family. And from his current hiding place, Mr. Wonpolo said,
“If you guys can record, the same day I learned about the Public Destination, I stated that the decision was hash and misinforming, and that the treatment against my family without verification, facts or due diligence was based on personal relations between personnel at the U.S Embassy at the time and those at the Foreign Ministry and the Liberian Government at large that provided the falsehood, this story was carried by Frontpage Africa and was the very first interview done by me.”
According to an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (who wants to remain anonymous) with inside knowledge of the ongoing passport scandal and knowledge of the situation facing Mr.
Wonplo’s family and children said,
“The public designation by the previous U.S. government via the Department of State has inflicted profound suffering on the family and young children of Whistleblower Andrew Wonpolo.” The official went further to say, “This harsh measure, often used to penalize those accused of corruption or human rights abuses, has had devastating consequences for his loved ones. They face social stigma, isolation, and economic hardship as a result. The children, innocent bystanders in this ordeal, endure emotional trauma and potential discrimination. The family’s future prospects have been marred by this public scrutiny, impacting their mental and emotional well-being. It underscores the collateral damage that such actions can cause to individuals and their families.”
This story is developing and will be updated.
Here’s what had transpired over the years.
The passport scandal in Liberia involving whistleblower Andrew Wonplo (as he was described by an official at the Foreign Ministry of Liberia who wants to remain anonymous) sent shockwaves throughout the nation and raised serious concerns about corruption and the integrity of the Liberian governmental institutions, specifically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Office of the Minister of State without Portfolio and others. Multiple media outlets both national and international published various stories of the passports scandal. The scandal, which unfolded in early 2018, exposed a vast network of illegal diplomatic passport issuance/sales and bribery within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which extended as far as the highest office in the Republic of Liberia, the office of President George Weah. Mr. Wonplo’s revelations exposed a deeply rooted system of corruption involving high-ranking officials within the ministry. The scandal revealed a web of bribery, with influential individuals paying substantial sums of money to obtain diplomatic passports most often with directive from the office of President Weah clothed or disguised in the Foreign Ministry’s standard operating procedures of the issuance of the diplomatic passports. These activities not only undermined the security and integrity of Liberia’s passport system but also posed significant national security risks to Liberia and the international community in terms of potential infiltration by foreign intelligence espionage (FIE) actors, criminals, or terrorists.
It is important to point out that there have been numerous reports of the illicit sale or distribution of the Liberian passports long after Mr. Wonpolo left the Foreign Ministry.
Below are just a few of these reports:
- BREAKING NEWS: Sheik Bashiru’s Diplomatic Passport is Fake: Investigation Unveils Passport Forgery by Syndicate by Siaway T. Miapue May 9, 2022
- Sheikh Bassirou Kante Exposes Liberian Officials in Diplomatic Passport
- NEARLY 4M USD LIBERIAN PASSPORTS DISCOVERED AT NPA, COVER–UPS BEGIN… – Liberian News –Knews online – Kool Fm 91.9 Liberia
- Liberia: Report Alleged Deweh Gray, Ex–Minister Findley, Fahnbulleh & Others
Written and investigated by Merlin Meyer, Ajyei Bonsu, Alexander Nyeneken, Abdulazeez Raheem, Lincoln Bazman and Freelance Investigative Reporters (Becktor Williams & Victor Allen) – September 13, 2023