Monrovia — In the latest strings of secret recordings released by the former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LCA), Ellen Corkrum and her fiancé, Melvin Johnson, a member of the National Legislature has revealed what she termed the "click" that is used by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in getting presidential nominees confirmed by the Liberian senate and also conducting fake investigations.
In the recording, Senator Clarice A. Jah (Liberty Party, Margibi) disclosed that the President had used her on many occasions to lobby with colleagues to get appointees including Central Bank of Liberia Governor Mills Jones confirmed. The lawmaker disclosed that President Sirleaf's intervention at one time helped her to receive a US$5,000 gratuity from Central Bank Governor Jones for her (Jah's) role in helping to get the Governor confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
"Sometimes we just need to tie the knots here and there, because like I say, everything now is politics... Everything in Liberia. Everything that politics, everything. The last time, the President called. You know when the Governor went for confirmation. He had all this problem. They was bringing, oh the man want run for President in time to come, blah blah blah. Oh, they can't give the man the position. So I stood for the Governor, I went around and talked to those who were in control; they listened to me. The President called me, she say, you think the Governor will get confirmed? I say Ma, I don't want to tell you yes right away, but let me do small work, by then I had gotten all of the political aspects, you know... Finally, when we got to the last person, Robert Sirleaf, you know that man there, when the man see people, he proud, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I called him, I said go talk to this person, the president called me... He got confirmed. This day, I was at the President's office, when I look, he came. The President say, she turned around, Senator Jah, I say yes Madam President. How much this man contributed towards your campaign? Just like that. She embarrassed him, until he gave me some kind of $5000.00 USD".
The lawmaker also indicated that fake independent investigation committees are sometimes established by the President for the sake of making things appear the right way in the eyes of the public. The senator's comments contained in the recording were accordingly as a consequence of attempts by Corkrum to have an investigation into activities at the airport mainly a $130 million that was forthcoming for the airport renovation, but Senator Jah is said to have been sent by President Sirleaf to intercept the pair and discourage them from carrying out investigation or independent audit, with an apparent fear of not hooking senior government officials who were involved with the operations of the LCA.
Senator Jah in the recording attempted to convince the pair to disregard any independent investigation/audit but rather allow she, Senator Jah, the President and the "Click" to stage a fake investigation; thereby keeping intact President Johnson Sirleaf and her government's secrets regarding corruption.
Says Senator Jah: "I say the President really using me oh. We got this strong relationship and especially she can confide in me. When they got on her son, I had my click. They got on the air. When they got on the air, I had all the tapes for her. She said is it real? I said yes; it's just that I'm not the, anh you know the outing, where you see me out, because I work a lot... ... Yesterday, I told her, I said Madam, ELLEN CORKRUM, the MD from Robertsfield, anh you know, I met her casually, but I'VE been admiring her work, she said oh yes, you brought something to my mind. The children can say that Clarice finish joining Unity Party, she will say, Clarice is still with Liberty Party, but Clarice is my daughter. I travel with her a lot of times. So one night we were on the flight. We were going Senegal, from here to Italy. So we were in first class. I was just sitting across from her. She said to me, but Senator, take small wine. I said, no Madam. She said well, our two on the flight, but me I drinking my own you hear. And every five minutes when I look, her attendant will go to go pour her some more. ... ..I say dammit, this woman not strong for nothing".
Senator Jah is an opposition lawmaker but since her election in 2005 she has been a close confidante of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and has been quiet on issues, failing to publicly comment on national issues. She admitted in the recording that many think she is now a member of the ruling Unity Party as she has kept her cool from politics especially in her own Liberty party. Jah is now facing the task of getting re-elected as her nine years tenure expires in a few months.
Like the case of Jah, the Corkrum's secret recording has now become a national embarrassment for several top government officials who did not manage their words in conversations with Corkrum which were unknowingly recorded and has now been made public. Already Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and Police Director Chris Massaquoi are amongst the officials embarrassed by the recording. Minister Samukai lashed at President Sirleaf in one of the recordings for her failure to fight corruption. Minister Samukai has since apologized for his comments against the President and other government officials.
Police Director Chris Massaquoi has said he has no regrets for his comments as recorded by Corkrum where he told Corkrum that the President had ordered him to arrest her but he still aided the escape of Corkrum who is now wanted in Liberia to face trial.
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Per Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum, the recording of Senior Senator Clarice Jah marks the beginning in a series of recordings to come that illustrates President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her government's commitment to and experience with corruption and stealing from the poor people of Liberia. Liberia is in a state of emergency; therefore, Liberians first, then the friends of Liberia must intervene and take a stand. After the airport Board of Director which comprised of seven (7) members, then Minister of Transport- Eugene Nagbe, LCAA representative- Captain Weefur, Mrs. Amy Clarke, Ambassador Edward Dunn, Mr. Massaquoi Kamara, Board Chair--Musa Bility and the airport's managing director, approved Judge Johnson to serve as legal adviser to the airport, Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum took numerous immediate and drastic anti-corruption stances. For instance:
Airport Gas Station
The Airport has a gas station purposed to supply the necessary fuel for airport fleet equipment and vehicle. Before Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum, there was virtually no accountability for the fuel. In fact, the gas station was a source of theft for government officials. Some officials were reportedly operating parallel private gas stations with the fuel taken from the airport station. Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum even received reports of officials taking fuel from the airport gas station and selling it locally at third parties' make-shift gas stations. The pair instituted a stringent logging system and required the corresponding report to appear on the desk of Ellen Corkrum no later than Monday mornings at 9:00am for the preceding week. The pair required the attendant to record the Year, Make, Model, Mileage, Employee Name and Department for every drop of gasoline. Naturally, this caused problems for those government officials who were stealing gasoline.
The airport has a VIP Lounge that provides VIP accommodations for such guests traveling to and from Liberia. The airport provides complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks for the guests. After the pair audited the lounge, and compared the ordered drinks and snacks inventory to the registered number of VIP guests for the same period, they discovered that each guest was purportedly consuming an average of twenty (20) alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage before or after the flight. Obviously this was another source of theft by government. The pair immediately changed the voucher ordering, inventory and accounting systems and sent a letter to the local drinks and snacks vendors. The letter, in essence, provided that the "new management" had discovered some improprieties in ordering and inventory and politely wanted to put all vendors on notice to avoid any collusion with any unscrupulous officials. In closing, the letter promised to expose all such government officials and involved vendors to the fullest extent.
A phenomenon of corrupt governments is Ghost Employee. Government officials would essentially lists additional imaginary employees for the purpose of illegally collecting said made up employee's salaries at the pay period. At the airport the pair received tips about this phenomena and about senior officials retaining part of the lowest paid employees salary. Due to fear and intimidation, the lower paid employees who simply go along with it. Realizing this, the pair sent notice to all airport employees and expressed their desire to meet and congratulate everyone for a job well done to date. The pair explained further that consequently they would be present with the pay masters at the next pay period. The pair requested all employees to bring his ID at the pay master's table to receive salary. Unbelievably, nearly 25% of the listed employees miraculously quitted and never appear to collect their salaries.
Pay Increase For Lowest Pay Employees and Christmas Bonus
As a result of the surprise surplus generated from the Ghost Employees crack down, the pair declared that all employees earning a meager $54 USD a month would receive a raise to $108 USD a month. Further, all such employees would receive a one time Christmas Bonus of $54. This would later be referred to by corrupt officials as an administrative lapse because the pair did not get "permission" to increase the salary of such employees. The aforementioned actions by Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum made the pair gravely unpopular amongst their colleagues and high ranking corrupt government officials. Before long the pair received numerous tips about a plan and plot to tarnish the pair and get rid of them. After much prayer and reflection, a consideration of the high risk involved (their lives, careers, 6 children, family, love ones, etc), the pair decided to record these corrupt officials (including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf), with no exception, and unprecedentedly bring the truth to light.
After recording several suspected culprits, the pair decided to approach Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai. The pair approached Minister Samukai, NOT because they suspected his involvement, but they had established a professional relationship with him, and given his position as the highest ranking security officer in the country, they imagined that he might be aware of what was transpiring (after all Liberia is a small country where information is free and plentiful).
Minister Samukai (via his now public recording) disclosed to the pair that the corrupt officials' plot was premised on the pair's anti-corruption stance, but focused on $130 Million USD that was forthcoming for the airport renovation. Minister Samukai advised the pair to seek an "Independent Investigation/Audit" from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Taking Minister Samukai's advise, they were headed for an audience with the President, but first conversed to various officials in an effort to observe protocol and chain of command. The officials immediately and sternly discourage any independent investigation. They explained that such an investigation would expose and shame the government. After the pair had spoken to various officials and expressed their desire for an "Independent Investigation/Audit," President Ellen Johnson Sirleafaware of the pair's intent, sent her one of her Lieutenants in corruption, Senator Clarice Jah, to intercept the pair and discourage any Independent Investigation/Audit request or public announcement. Senator Jah instead attempted to convince the pair to disregard any independent investigation/audit but rather allow she Senator Jah, the President and the "Click" to stage a fake investigation; thereby keeping intact President Johnson Sirleaf and her government's secrets regarding corruption. Senator Jah on the recording talks about:
The Fake Independent Investigation Committee;
How the President and their "Click" have their own way of crafting investigations to make it look one way;
How the "Click" rescued Robert Sirleaf; and,
How the "Click" corruptly got the bank governor confirmed and how the President pressured the governor into paying Senator Jah $5,000.00 USD.
In conclusion, Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum understand that there are some well-meaning people who are confused and concerned about the revelations and its impact. Liberia ranks highest in the region in infant mortality rate. This means that hundreds and hundreds of our unborn and newborn babies, pre-schoolerswho are dying unnecessarily from curable and preventable disease would NOT die, if the available resources were properly utilized. Unless one has lost a baby to such conditions or hasbeen affected by such loss, one tends not to appreciate the emergency nature of the situation. They represent our future; our future doctors, lawyers, pilots, pastors, teachers, etc. that Liberia will never enjoy the intended benefits of these children. About 90% of our brethren are unemployed. Further about 90% of our people are forced to live below the poverty lines while a hand full exclusively enjoy all of the available resources. Such emergencies drove and continues to drive Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum to expose the truth. To GOD be the Glory!!!
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: I SAY THE PRESIDENT REALLY USING ME OH.
We got this strong relationship. And especially she can confide in me. When they got on her son, I had my click. They got on the air. When they got on the air, I had all the tapes for her. She said is it real? I said yes; it's just that I'm not the, anh you know the outing, where you see me out, because I work a lot... ...
Yesterday, I told her, I said Madam, ELLEN CORKRUM, the md from Robertsfield, anh you know, I met her casually, but I'VE been admiring her work, she said oh yes, you brought something to my mind.
THE CHILDREN CAN SAY THAT CLARICE FINISH JOINING UNITY PARTY, SHE WILL SAY, CLARICE IS STILL WITH LIBERTY PARTY, BUT CLARICE IS MY DAUGHTER.
I travel with her a lot of times. So one night we were on the flight. We were going Senegal, from here to Italy. So we were in first class. I was just sitting across from her. She said to me, but Senator, take small wine. I said, no Madam. She said well, our two on the flight, but me I drinking my own you hear. And every five minutes when I look, her attendant will go to go pour her some more. ... ..I say dammit, this woman not strong for nothing.
JUDGE JOHNSON: Something got to be behind it anh! The iron lady.
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: And I told her, I said, Madam, you giving me support for my election, the workers are angry with me if Ellen cannot go back to work. So how do I talk to them? That's how she say okay, go. laughter...
ELLEN CORKRUM: But, the workers have been very supportive. sometimes, i did not imagine the impact on the people, because I was just doing my job.
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: The people (workers) will call me eleven or twelve o clock at night. my husband just pushes the phone to me. because he get'S tired that there is no rest (from the workers), so he will just push the phone. in the morning he said damn it, y'all will kill this woman! NO, they really have been supportive, I tell you not lie, more than your top management.
ELLEN CORKRUM: OH ABSOLUTELY, YOU KNOW, I WAS JUST DOING MY JOB. I WOULD STOP AND TALK TO THEM. DURING CHRISTMAS, I SAID ALL OF US HAVE JOBS, DOESN'T MATTER WHAT WE ARE MAKING, THE FACT IS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO BUY A LITTLE RICE FOR OUR FAMILY; BUT LETS DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR THE CHILDREN IN THE COMMUNITY BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY EVEN IF ITS JUST ONE COPYBOOK (NOTE BOOK) WE CAN AFFORD TO BUY FOR OUR CHILD, SO YOU KNOW, JUST LITTLE THINGS LIKE THAT, NOT KNOWING (I DIDN'T KNOW) THE PEOPLE WERE CALCULATING AND KEEPING ALL OF THAT STUFF IN MIND, I MEAN I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ANY IDEA. I WAS JUST TRYING MY BEST, THAT'S ALL. SO THEY WILL CALL, THEY WILL CALL.
JUDGE JOHNSON: I SAY, THIS YARD HAS BEEN AN ASSEMBLY CENTER (WITH THE WORKERS).
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: THEY HAVE BEEN CALLING. YOU KNOW THAT'S HOW IT SHOWS WHEN PEOPLE ARE DEDICATED. YOU KNOW PEOPLE GET FED UP.
JUDGE JOHNSON: But what about the idea of the independent investigation, the independent investigation report?
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: The independent investigation report. I don't know.
We got our own way of crafting things to make it look one way.
ELLEN CORKRUM: And how? I'm sure you've dealt with similar type of stuff? BECAUSE THEN YOU WILL BE DOING IMPUT? ARE THEY LOOKING AT YOU AS THE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR? BECAUSE SHE WAS SAYING SHE WILL NOT USE BOARD MEMBERS, IS WHAT SHE SAID, BUT SHE SAID THAT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT SHE'S USED BEFORE FOR THESE TYPE OF THINGS.
JUDGE JOHNSON: (POINTING TO SENATOR CLARICE JAH), THAT'S THE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR, (STILL POINTING TO HER) YOU SEE HOW SHE HAS HER ARMS FOLDED. LAUGHTER... (STILL TALKING ABOUT SENATOR CLARICE JAH). LIKE A REAL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR...
ELLEN CORKRUM: So Ma, what's the tactic now, what do we need to do?
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: VERBALLY, WE CAN TALK THAT OVER WITH HER. Because after her term, that's public document. So you have to be very mindful of that. Because you can't trust nobody now. If somebody takes it out of her office and GIVE it out, you know it's a public document. but it is a public document, so you have to frame it in a way that like, you KNOW... sometimes we just need to tie the knots here and there, because like I say, everything now is politics... Everything in Liberia. Everything that politics. Everything. The last time, the President called. You know when the Governor went for confirmation. He had all this problem. They was bringing, oh the man want run for President IN TIME TO COME, BLAH BLAHBLAH. OH, THEY CAN'T GIVE THE MAN THE POSITION. SO I STOOD FOR THE GOVERNOR, I WENT AROUND AND TALKED TO THOSE WHO WERE IN CONTROL; THEY LISTENED TO ME. The President called me, she say, you think the Governor will GET confirmed? I say Ma, I don't want to tell you yes RIGHT AWAY, but let me do small WORK, BY THEN I HAD GOTTEN ALL OF THE POLITICAL ASPECTS, YOU KNOW... .Finally when we got to the last person, Robert Sirleaf, you know that man there, when the man see people, he proud, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I CALLED HIM, I SAID GO TALK TO THIS PERSON, THE PRESIDENT CALLED ME, ... .. He got confirmed. This day, I was at the President's office, when I look, he came. The President say, she turned around, Senator Jah, I say yes Madam President. How much this man contributed towards your campaign? LOUD LAUGTHER. Just like that. She embarrassed him, until he gave me some kind of $5000.00 USD.
JUDGE JOHNSON: BUT THE QUESTION IS: WHAT Y'ALL WILL DO NOW?
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: It's like, I GONNA to give a summary report of, ANH YOU KNOW, my activities, and the kind of work that I do. The kind of finances I deal with. You know.
ELLEN CORKRUM: So it will be like it's coming from me, or that will be you that will be doing it?
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: No. It's coming from you. It's coming from you. But what I want, I think what the President and I are driving at, is in that, you won't be indicting yourself. but Madam will settle this thing. She will settle it. Let's just do the report. Let's do the report and work with her.
ELLEN CORKRUM: OK, So what do you need us to do? How do we get going now?
SENATOR CLARICE JAH: WELL YOU KNOW, FROM WHAT I HAVE READ YOU KNOW SOME OF THE REPORTS FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE INDICTED, WELL MAYBE I COULD FIND ONE DAY AND COME SIT HERE AND JUST READ SOME OF IT OF HOW WE PUT IT TOGETHER. THEN YOU CAN GIVE YOUR INPUT, THEN WE SEND IT TO MADAM.
By Thursday, we will send it to her. The whole week she will be busy ... SO MAYBE BY THURSDAY... Because it's mainly envy and jealousy ma. That's the first thing that's happening. Once you're not stupid to say "yes sir", get ready to pray more.
ELLEN CORKRUM: That's so, so praying oh.
JUDGE JOHNSON: I say people around the world are praying and fasting.