Liberia: New Arrests in Passport Fraud Saga

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Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edward Martin (pictured), publicly instructed court officers of the Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice to handcuff one of Wonplo's female staffers, Marian Sory.

After failing to prosecute prime suspect former Passport Director Wonplo, Government now hunting for lower-level staff

Just days after the US Government publicly announced that they have banned the former Passport Director, Andrew Wonplo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his family from entering the United States, the Liberian government has begun arresting and incarcerating employees believed to be office staff of Wonplo.

The government's action took place on Thursday, September 17, when Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edward Martin, publicly instructed court officers of the Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice to handcuff one of Wonplo's female staffers, Marian Sory.

It all started when the court's officers were heard informing defendant Sory that they had been mandated by the county attorney to have her handcuffed and photographed by journalists who were contacted by Cllr. Martin to have her taken to the Monrovia Central Prison.

"Cllr. Martin says we should handcuff you and place you in his personal jeep and himself will take you to the Central Prison," a female court's officer was heard telling defendant Sory.

Immediately after hearing Cllr. Martin's message about her arrest and subsequent incarceration, defendant Sory was heard saying, "Only God knows that I am innocent of their politically motivated case. I am prepared to suffer any punishment in their hands, but I know that at the end of the day I will be freed."

Sory is among several other individuals to include Wonplo and some foreign nationals -- Ghanaians, Nigerians and Ivoirians -- who were named in the government's new indictment.

As for Sory, the new indictment claims that she was hired and authorized by defendant Wonplo and brought into the corridors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thereafter assigned with defendant Adedoyin Emmanuel Atire, a Nigerian being a non-employee, at various points of the ministry to include Interview room and other parts of the ministry to negotiate and receive all dubious proceeds from the illegal passport sale.

The indictment claims that the action of the defendants caused the government to sustain loss of US$30,000 in revenue generation.

They are charged with economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

Prior to the new indictment, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court 'C' had dismissed those charges against Wonplo and restored his liberty.

Judge Gbeisay's decision followed a motion filed by Wonplo's legal team praying the court to dismiss the charges against him due to failure of the prosecution to prosecute him (Wonplo).

Judge Gbeisay based his decision on Chapter 18 section 18.2 of the Criminal procedure law which states that a case can be dismissed by the court for failure to proceed with prosecution after two successive terms of court.

US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, in a statement last Thursday, announced a public designation for Wonplo due to his involvement in "Significant corruption." "In his official capacity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2019, Mr. Wonplo was involved in passport fraud that undermined the rule of law, reduced the Liberian public's faith in their government's management of identification and travel documents, and compromised the integrity and security of immigration processes," the Secretary of State said.

Additionally, Secretary Pompeo said, "I am announcing the public designation of his spouse, Dennice Wonplo, and their minor children. This designation reaffirms U.S. commitment to standing with the people and government of Liberia in their fight against corruption. The Department will continue to use these authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally."

According to the US Secretary of State, the designation is made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94). "Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

Author

Abednego Davis

Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

 

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