…. Protesters Urge Partners
The call was contained in a statement presented to the American Embassy and the United Nations at their respective officers Monday.
“We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen LRD16 billion. All those linked to this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount,” the statement said.
It was reported recently in local media that an amount of L$16B was missing. The government later issued a statement saying it was investigating money brought into the country between last year November and this August 2018. But the Finance Minister later said there was no money missing. They however set up a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to money brought into the country from 2016 to present.
The scandal had saddled President George Weah with his biggest political crisis since he took office in January. He has yet to comment in detail on the case.
The funds amount to about 5 percent of the annual GDP of the country, whose donor-reliant economy has been ravaged by two civil wars, the second of which ended in 2003, and an Ebola outbreak from 2013 to 2016 that killed thousands.
In addition to that, the group also called on international partners to conduct an independent investigation into the alleged missing money.
“We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.”
Read the full statement below:
“The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), a mass-based umbrella pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization consisting of over 26 civil society organizations, youth/student groups and trade unions, have peacefully rallied and assembled conscious and patriotic Liberians from every sphere of our society to petition you in pursuit of L$16 billion (US$106 million) that mysteriously disappeared under the government of President George M. Weah.
With oneness of purpose and an unhindered allegiance to Liberia and posterity, we have come on this day to send this clarion message to our International Partners through you:
- We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.
- We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen L$16 billion. All those linked to this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount.
- We call on you to assist Liberia in auditing all financial transactions done so far under President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We are also concerned about the recent infusion of US$25 million in the Liberian economy by the Weah-led government. We are also interested in knowing the source of this US$ 25 million and how it was infused in the economy. This we believe must be thoroughly investigated as well.
- COCUBOMB craves your indulgence most respectfully to launch an investigation into the giant-sized private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high-profile members of his government in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion.
- We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to ensure full asset declaration by all public officials especially the president either before or during the course of the Independent International Forensic Investigation. As members of the Weah’s administration have been accused of amassing properties using state funds, we demand that they include in their asset declaration the date of acquisition of those assets.
- We call on you to expedite the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. This we believe would end the longstanding culture of impunity and guarantee justice for Liberia and Liberians especially war victims. This approach would certainly serve as a deterrence for would-be war and economic criminals.
- We submit to you the urgency to fully overhaul/upgrade Liberia’s financial management system in order to maintain fiscal discipline, accountability, transparency and public integrity at all levels. The need to reinforce and rebrand anti-graft institutions such as Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, General Auditing Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit, Public Procurement and Concession Commission, Liberia Extractive Industrial and Transparency Initiative and Internal Audit Agency cannot be overemphasized. Corruption especially in the judiciary must also be dealt with.
- We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MoFDP, CBL, MICAT and RIA) that had/have direct link to this missing container immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.
The people of Liberia through COCUBOMB remain very concerned and disturbed about those billions (US$106 million) that vanished without any trace up to now. It is sad that the government has been dishonest and inconsistent in releasing the facts. Accounts surrounding this missing L$16 billion from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism and even the Office of the President remain contradictory and are compounded with fundamental flaws.
The government cannot be the accused, the defendant, and at the same time the jury. The Liberian people need their money back. Those who viciously siphoned our resources MUST account and account now! THE PEOPLE are resolved about this and we will not rest until this L$16 billion is fully accounted for by those we describe as ‘vicious economic scavengers and plunderers of our State resources.
In all of these, we assure the Liberian people and the International Community that we shall remain peaceful, civil and matured as we pursue this irreversible and patriotic path of bringing an end to systemic corruption in Liberia. The people deserve better – they deserve to rise above poverty, misery and inequality. It cannot be business as usual. The International Community must ACT to help rescue Liberia from perishing. The popular call of our PEOPLE is “BRING BACK OUR MONEY”.
COCUBOMB calls for the full protection of Journalists Philibert Brown of Hot Pepper Newspaper and Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa. We also call on you to protect the rights of all campaigners who are demanding the full restitution of this L$16 billion. As we jealously protect the sovereignty and heritage of our State by standing up to those barriers (corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and religious intolerance) that continue to keep us down as a people, we call you to join us in this pursuit to ensure that President Weah and his government account for L$16 billion that disappeared in thin air.
Done and sealed on this 24th Day of September A.D. 2018 in the City of Monrovia by through COCUBOMB, a representation of the Liberian people.”
Jeremiah S. Swen
Secretary General, COCUBOMB
Approved: __________________________ Approved: ____________________________
Emmanuel Gonquoi Martin K. N. Kollie
Vice Chair / CIC of EFFL National Chairman, COCUBOMB
To: US Embassy, United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, French Embassy
Reputable Organizations that have endorsed this statement:
- Student Unification Party (SUP)
- People Action Network (PAN-Liberia)
- Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL)
- Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA)
- Liberia Labor Congress (LLC)
- Workers’ Union of Liberia (WUL)
- Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)
- Alliance for Transitional Justice in Liberia (ATJL)
- Teachers in Action for Concerns (TAC-Liberia)
- Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACAL)
- Movement of Social Democratic Alliance (MOSODA)
- Financial Communication Sector Union (FCSU)
- National Cosmetology Union of Liberia (NCUL)
- Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth League in Support of Weah (AOPPYL)
- Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora (CLD)
- Citizen Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Courts (CAEWECC)
- Zorzor and Salayea Muslim Development Association (ZSMDA)
- Forum for Democracy and Civic Education (FODCE)
- TAG – Liberia
- Concerned University and College Students (CUCS)
- Conscious High School Students of Liberia (CHSL)
- K. Doe Community Youth Association (SAKDOCYA)
- Masses Against Poverty (MAP)
- Federation of Sinkor Youth Association (FESYA)
- Liberian Youth for Democracy
- Agenda for Peace and Democracy
- National Youth Against Violence (NYAV)