Monrovia — Mr. Henry Costa, leader of the Council of Patriots, which has been behind a couple of protests against governance lapses in the administration of President George Manneh Weah, says he fears he would be killed if the government in neighboring Sierra Leone honors a request from the Liberian government to have him returned Wednesday morning.
Liberian government sources confirmed to FPA that Mr. Costa will be returned to Liberia by way of Africa World Airlines(AWA) Wednesday morning from Freetown.
Mr. Costa had reportedly traveled to Liberia's next-door neighbors in hopes of connecting on a flight to the United States of America.
In an interview airing on the VOA's Daybreak Africa Wednesday, Mr. Costa said he has committed no crime in Liberia for which he should be sent back. "I will be killed if I were to returned to Liberia. I would be killed, so the Sierra Leonean authorities will have to know that. I will make that clear to them when I speak with them in the morning," Mr. Costa stated.
Mr. Costa, who says he is being held at the local police station at the Lungi International Airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone, praised the professional handling of his case by the Sierra Leone police.
Mr. Costa was initially scheduled to leave Liberia on Friday, January 10, but claimed that he was prevented by immigration officers whom he said had received instruction not to allow him to leave the country.
Costa said he had previously received information that the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) had been instructed to seize his passport, therefore, he refused to hand over his passport to them at the RIA on Friday.
The LIS released a statement Friday, clarifying that immigration officers never stopped Costa from traveling, rather, Costa voluntarily delisted himself after checking in with SN Brussels and asked for his luggage to be deplaned. "LIS says while it has received reports that Mr. Costa entered Liberia using forged travel documents, it did not arrest, stop nor accost him at the airport as he did not present himself to immigration officers," the LIS release stated.
On Saturday, Mr. Costa told FrontPageAfrica that he was invited by the LIS to make a statement and was held at the LIS headquarters in Monrovia from 10:am to 2:15pm before any attention was paid him.
He explained that he was informed that although the laissez passer he presented upon arrival was authentic, the signature and stamp on it were forged. Therefore, his assistance was needed for the investigation as to who issued the booklet.
"They asked me to make a statement and then my lawyer, Cllr. Findley Kangar to sign for me. What does that mean? I've made arrangements to leave travel tomorrow but they said I cannot leave until the Minister of Justice had reviewed the report," the COP leader told FrontPageAfrica.
Mr. Costa who vowed in a news conference Sunday that he and his COP were considering planning new rounds of protests against Weah government's decision to sell nine oil blocks, explained to the VOA's James Butty Wednesday, how and why he left Monrovia and ended up in Freetown.
Said Mr. Costa: "I had attempted to board my flight to Istanbul, Turkey and then to the US. The immigration folks got alerted when I tried to check in and they called me up, very nicely - and they've been very nice, professional people. They raised some issue that there was information sent by the Liberian government or some source that I needed to not be allowed to board the flight. The immigration officers brought some police officers who accompanied me to the police station, they've been very nice to me. I've been held under protective custody. It' not been seen as I've been arrested but of course my rights to move freely are curtailed but I'm not arrested but I am held under protective custody at the police station at Lungi."
'Assassination Threat' Revealed
Mr. Costa explained that his main reason for leaving was because of an assassination threat. "On Sunday I received some help from some very top-level security in Liberia. They came to me and said, leave the country, there's a plan to assassinate you. We know you can be stubborn but please do not be stubborn about this. We know about this plan and we do not want to sit here and allow it to happen. They facilitated my escape from the country. That is what happened, that is how I came to Sierra Leone. There's element which have been hired, people closed to the President to assassinate me."
Mr. Costa said two days before the protest which was supposed to be held on the 30th of December, he received a call and when he went to a meeting with folks from a very important diplomatic mission near Monrovia, he was informed of a plan to assassinate him. "So, I've been aware of that plan - and I've been protecting myself. There's no case in the courts against me. I have not been charged with anything. But as I said, the Sierra Leonean authorities have been very reasonable, very pleasant and I hope that when I meet their bosses tomorrow, we would be able to square this thing out. There's been no indictment, no prosecution, nothing, I have not committed a crime. So, that is why I made the move - I was warned to leave the country, my escape was facilitated by senior government security officials. I will not give their names."
The Costa-led COP has so far organized two protests against the Weah administration, the first on June 7th, 2019 and the most recent January 6, 2020.
Originally planned for December 30th, the January 6 protest ended abruptly after officers of the Liberia National Police used teargas to disperse protesters who authorities say began lighting coal pots to cook meals in the seat of the national legislature, the judiciary branch and the Liberian presidency.