11 October 2018

Liberia: Govt Maintains Travel Ban On Weeks

Mr. Milton Weeks, the former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) may not be able to leave the country anytime soon, after a request by current CBL Governor, Nathaniel Patray to lift his traveling ban, was rejected by the Justice Ministry.

However, the Justice Ministry has accepted Patray's request to lift travel restrictions imposed on six of the 23 employees of the bank, including two of Weeks' deputies, Charles A. Sirleaf for Operations and Dr. Mournir Siaplay, for Economic Policy and has subsequently lifted the travel embargo on the two men.

Others whose travel ban was lifted and are free to travel are Musa Kamara, Director for Research; Cyrus W. Badio, Head of Communications; Theodoria B. Jreh, Junior Internal Auditor; and Mustapha Sherman, Director of Finance.

The lifting of the travel ban on Sirleaf and Siaplay was based on an application from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to the Monrovia City Court, revoking its September 28 writ of "Ne Exeat Republica."

It may be recalled that on October 2, Patray claimed that reports about the disappearance of some 15-16 billion Liberian banknotes stockpiled in containers at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and the Freeport of Monrovia were not true.

He claimed, following days of internal investigations, that the CBL has all the necessary records to prove that at no time had money gone missing from the CBL.

He said in as much as the CBL welcomes an investigation into the missing billion dollars saga, it maintains that, according to its recorded logs, no monies printed under its authority had gone missing.

In view of this, Governor Patray requested the government to remove the recent traveling ban placed on several employees of the institution, reiterating that, every staff of the CBL stands ready to submit to the ongoing investigation whenever called upon.

Solicitor-General, Cllr. Daku Mulbah informed the court that reasons for lifting the travel ban were intended to allow the employees to perform their respective official tasks for the bank both locally and abroad.

Prior to lifting the travel ban on Deputy Governor Sirleaf and others, the government had described them as persons of interest in the ongoing investigation.

The national security circular also advised them to not leave the country.

According to a writ issued by the court dated September 26, the government claimed that the concerned individuals could not leave the country amid the ongoing investigation. The writ prevented the individuals from traveling outside the country and it was granted followed an application by the government through Justice Minister Musa Dean.

It remains unclear why the government insists on maintaining the travel ban on former Governor Weeks given the recent CBL press release clarifying that there is no money missing and that it can give an account of the money in question. Many Liberians who spoke to the Daily Observer on the issue said if the government does maintain that there is no money missing, then the travel ban imposed on former Governor Weeks and others should be lifted forthwith and have their rights restored.

Authors

Abednego Davis

Liberia

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