Liberia: Ex-Passport Chief Remains At Large

22 September 2020

-Court sources suggest

This paper has learned from anonymous court authority that Liberia's former Director of Passport and Visas Andrew D. Wonplo remains at large, days after one of his alleged accomplice Madam Marian Sory was detained following their indictment in relation to passport scandal.

In a chat with a team of journalists at the Temple of Justice Monday, 21 September, the anonymous court authority revealed that court officers have been searching for Mr. Wonplo and other indictees, including visiting the former Passport Director's residence, but they have not seen him.

The source suggests that Wonplo is in the know that there is a writ out for him from the court, especially when such matter has been published.

Last Thursday, 17 September, prosecutors detained Madam Marian Sory, one of the 11 persons including Mr. Wonplo, ordered arrested by the Criminal Court "C" based on their indictment for alleged illegal sales of Liberian Passports to non - Liberians, depriving government of thousands of US Dollars. Madam Sory was detained at the Monrovia Central Prison after being taken before the Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice in relation to the indictment.

The authorities here claim that the defendants caused the government to lose over US$30,000 through illegal sales of Liberian passports to non - Liberians, as well as people looking for space to travel to the United States and Canada who were willing to pay as much as US$2,000 each for a Liberian Passport.

Nationals of Nigeria and Ghana are among those named in a long list of persons who allegedly had a role in the passport scandal in which Liberian officials at the Passport Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly sold the nation's vital travel documents to non - Liberians for amounts not authorized by government.

Ahead of Sory's arrest Thursday, 17 September, the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo earlier announced on 10 September the public designation of Liberia's former Director of Passport and Visas Andrew Wonplo, "due to his involvement in significant corruption," making Wonplo and his immediate family members ineligible for entry into the United States.

Under Section 7031(c) of the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020, 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.

While working as Liberia's Passport Direct at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prosecutors allege that defendant Andrew Wonplo received over 4,250 pieces of blank Liberian Passports for signature and distribution to Liberians upon filing of satisfied and legitimate applications or requests for passports.

Between 2018 and 2019, defendant Wonplo allegedly conspired with Adedoyin Emmanuel Atiroko (Nigerian); and James S. Fallah (Edward Egbedi); Faruk M.B. Kamara; J. RannieBinda; Worjloh David Nippy (Ghanaian); Joseph Harris; William Reeves; Johnson P. Anderson; N'Mengatin A. Konneh, Marian Sory; Nimely and began to sell passports to non- Liberians.

Over charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery and criminal conspiracy, the government here has indicted Andrew D. Wonplo, former Passport Director; Adedoyin Emmanuel Atiroko (Nigerian); and James S. Fallah (Edward Egbedi).

Others indicted include Faruk M.B. Kamara; J. Rannie Binda; Worjloh David Nippy (Ghanaian); Joseph Harris; William Reeves; Johnson P. Anderson; N'Mengatin A. Konneh, Marian Sory; Nimely and others to be identified.

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