CBL ‘Whistle-blower’ Released From National Security Agency Cell

Alfred Cheeks, an employee at the Central Bank of Liberia who was suspended, arrested, and placed behind bars for breaching the bank’s confidentiality policy has been released from further detention at the National Security Agency.

Cheeks is accused of leaking documents revealing the cost of Pres. George Weah’s recent trip to France. Many Coalition for Democratic Change supporters had claimed on several Facebook groups that Weah’s trip was being paid for by the Senegalese government.

The delegation for the multiple country trip included the president and his wife, Clar Weah, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Senate pro tempore Albert Chie, Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, and Rep. Munah Youngblood.

However, soon after the claims of the trip being free to Liberian taxpayers were made, a document surfaced on Facebook that suggested that US$52,721 had been requested for the trip.

The document in question is a letter dated Feb. 13, 2018, addressed to Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah and signed by Nathaniel McGill, minister of state, requesting funds to facilitate the travel of George Weah and delegation to Senegal, Morocco, and France from February 14-23, 2018.

Letter from Nathaniel McGill to Samuel Tweah, requesting funds for George Weah and delegation trip

Not long after, a Central Bank press release dated February 22 and signed by Cyrus Wleh Badio, head of corporate communications, said the posting of the travel arrangements was “a serious breach of its fidelity and confidentiality policy governing the conduct of its employees.”

The Central Bank noted that it had ordered its own internal inquiry as a result and “based on CBL’s preliminary investigation, including a careful review of its CCTV video, a staff was seen on camera pocketing a photocopy of the document.”

Although the Central Bank did not mention the staff by name, it said it had suspended the staff and “turned this matter over to the National Security Agency for further investigation and will continue to cooperate with the NSA investigation.”

A group known as the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia, revealed that Cheeks was the employee being investigated. According to Emmanuel Gonquoi, the head of the group, Cheeks was released Friday morning after staying “48 hours in custody.”

Additionally, Gonquoi said Cheeks had been suspended from his job “for time indefinite.”

“Cheeks is now with his family but decided not to speak to the media,” Gonquoi said, adding that there are unconfirmed reports suggesting that the government is now negotiating with Cheeks and perhaps he may be given a promotion, possibly to placate him.

 

Gonquoi said Cheeks’ arrest for bringing to the public’s attention the spending of public funds by a government sworn to a ‘pro-poor’ policy is unprecedented.

 

“A ‘pro-poor’ government policy stance presupposes a commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights including economic rights,” he said.

According the Gonquoi, there was an initial press conference scheduled by Cheeks’ friends and family to put pressure on the government for his release but that was cancelled after Cheeks was freed from NSA custody.

Cheeks’ illegal arrest and detention appears to be the second by the Coalition for Democratic Change-led government since assuming the helm of authority on January 22.

Dionysius Sebwe, an ally of former Vice President Joseph Boakai, was previously arrested on charges of misapplication of entrusted property. He was later released without being forwarded to court.

In December 2009, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian president issued an executive order while the legislature was on break on the protection of whistle blowers, in advance of the planned submission of a bill.

Source: Bush Chicken Online

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About Cholo Brooks 6609 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.