It is unfortunate to state that we as a body, the Liberian Community in Italy, as well as individual Liberians Italy continue to forward compliants about the situation we face at the hand of Mr. Mohammed S. Sheriff, Liberia's Ambassador in Rome, with no solution in view. Forwarding these complains has become the only alternative, after numerous efforts to meet with the Ambassador as a community to discuss these issues has yielded no result.
Everytime we forward a complaint to the Ministry of Foerign Affairs in Liberia, Ambassador Sheriff respond with even more severe measures, often saying, ‘’ I enjoys the confidence of the President and I have full powers as Ambassador, if anyone has a complain, let him go where ever he wants. After all the Liberian people noise is short-lived.’’ A recent case being to cancelled all services Liberians stand in need of at the Embassy (Passport renewal, Endosement Nulla-Osta, Certificate, Declearation etc.). He has decleared that the Embassy in Rome will no more render these above mentioned services, and any Liberian in Italy in need of any of the above listed should teavel to one of the Libreian Embassies in France, Germany or the United Kingdom. This latest development comes on the back of the high fees (250 Euro) we have been paying for each of these services.
Even though we have limited minds as it relates to the functions of the Embassy, but is it not obvious that some of the duties of the Embassy is to protect the interest and welfare of Liberian citizens in the Country in which the Embassy is located? Common sense tells us that the Ambassador and his staff should ensure that all Librians are accorded couteous treatment and consideration in keeping with the nature of their visits at the Embassy. Is it not fair that we be given cordial reception and if requested, reasonable assistance from our Ambassador? Regretably, these are far from what we experience at the Embassy in Rome. Instead, the Ambassador initiates altercations with Liberians visiting the Embassy for services especially if they are unable to recharge his two mobile phones. His use of language is profusely abusive and insulting. A recent case was the use of libelous expressions toward a young Liberian girl who is studying at one of the Universities in Rome. She had gone to renew her passport so as to extend the validity of her student residence permit, but was refused renewal and thrown out of the building.
For those of us who have been in Italy, especially Rome since the early 80s, and have known Ambassador Sheriff or as we referred to him then 'Stan', are only surprise that his current status as Ambassador and Representative of the Government and People of Liberia has had no positive effect on his charachter.
This is the same Mohammed S. Sheriff who fought and wounded a Steve Amaokor, a fellow member of the African student union in Rome, at the home of Father Berlingo, during a union meeting after Sheriff boastfully disclosed that he had been sleeping with Steve's wife. The fight left Steve with several knive wounds and the living room of the Father mostly damaged. Father Berlingo intervened ans resolved the matter the Adrica way.
This is the same Mohasmmed S. Sheriff who solicited assistance from the Rome city Council ''Commune di Roma'' using the name of the Liberian Community under the guise of sending those items, which included urban transport buses, medical supplies among others, to the much needed in Liberia. However, Sheriff shipped those items to Sierra Leone and had them sold.
He is the same Mohammed Sheriff who stabbed a Liberian Diplomat, Bokar Wreh, First Secretary at the Liberian Embassy in Rome in 1987 during his farewell party in the Rome district of Cassia. Sheriff fled the scene before police could arrive. Mr. Wreh never pressed chareges and left the Country few weeks later after he had mostly recovered from his knive wounds.
He is the same Mohammed S. Sheriff who came to Italy on a scholarship to study medicine but was later expelled from the medical Faculty of the ''Universita Cattolica di Scaro Cuore Roma'' (Catholic University of the Secret Heart in Rome), after he beat up a Professor and a fellow course mate from the Philipines. The African Students Union led efforts to secure his reinstatememt but to no avail, after it was disclosed that Sheriff had previously committed other serious violations and was not fit to continue study in the University. He later found employment with the Laboratory Department at the Rome Gemelli Hospital as a Lab Assiatant. Even at Gemelli, he always came in trouble with the department head as well as the Hospital admimistration for such things as assult of fellow workmates and violance.
When we heard news that Stan had come back to Rome as Liberia's Ambassador, we wlcome the news with much gladness habouring the thought that he was now a changed man, given his advanced age ( 59 years, September 23, 1955) and latest responsilities as Representative of the Government and People of Liberia. Disappointingly, and to our greatest surprise, Sheriff is still the same person we knew some 30 years ago.
Meanwhile, it is disheartening to note that the relevent authorities in Monrovia has failed to look into all the complaints we have forwarded, even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have acknowledge receipt of some of those communications sent. We will however continue to bring to the attention of the Authotities in Liberia what is obtaining at the Embassy in Rome until a solution is realised.
Festus B. Nagbe