LIS Identifies More Suspects In Costa Immigration Fraud Probe

LIS Commissioner General Robert Budy

The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) says it has identified additional suspects linked to the procurement of a “forged” Laissez-Passer in the agency’s probe involving talk show host Henry P. Costa.

LIS Commissioner General Robert Budy, who made the disclosure at a news conference in Monrovia on Monday, said Sylvester Tevez Nah who was linked to the investigation told LIS investigators in a voluntary statement that he did not receive any money from Costa contrary to testimony by the talk show host that he sent him (Nah) US$20 to procure the travel certificate.

The LIS, it can be recalled, announced  starting  a probe into circumstances leading to how Costa acquired a forged travel document which he used to enter Liberia in December last year.

Nah, whose name surfaced following Costa’s voluntary statement at the Immigration Bureau in Monrovia, willingly turned himself over to the security agency to aid in the investigation regarding his role in the laissez-passer scam.

But Commissioner Budy, however, told the news conference that the voluntary statement issued by Nah has unearthed the names of three individuals who reportedly aided in the procurement of the laissez-passer on behalf of Costa.

Nah, according to the LIS boss, told the investigation that he wasn’t the one who obtained the laissez-passer for Costa but was rather asked by Costa to contact Mr. Monie Hooke Momolu, a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was dismissed since February 15, 2017.

Momolu, according to the investigation, was dismissed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for committing the crimes of Criminal Conspiracy, Forgery and Impersonation in connection with the unauthorized issuance of a Liberian passport.

Commissioner Budy added that Nah asserted in his voluntary statement that he was given a cell phone number belonging to another individual in person of Mr. Musa Sackor, who presented to him a passport size photo of Costa at a local entertainment center located in ELWA, outside Monrovia, for onward delivery to Mr. Momolu.

Subsequently, Nah told investigators that he then received an envelope in which he discovered a Liberian Citizen Travel Certificate belonging to Mr. Costa for onward submission to a lady only identified as Mrs. Belleh, the wife of Bishop Wolo Belleh of Bethel Cathedral of Hope Church in Congo Town.

Meanwhile, the LIS Commissioner General maintained that the investigation into the case of the fraudulent Liberian Citizen Travel Certificate is intended to unearth an organized criminal syndicate involving the falsification of the document that was purportedly issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Budy told journalists that the LIS in consultation with the Ministry of Justice has turned over the investigation to the Liberia National Police (LNP) due to the criminal nature of the case.

He further noted that officers of the LIS who were involved with the illegal dispatching of confidential or sensitive information through social media have been investigated by the LIS Professional Standard Division (PSD), adding that administrative actions will be taken against them in line with reports from the investigation.

Costa, who is the main actor in the case, absconded immigration investigation and fled to neighboring Sierra Leone last week Tuesday, claiming that his life was threatened by the Government of Liberia, an allegation the government has since refuted.

Costa was due to appear at the headquarters of the LIS on Wednesday, January 15, along with his lawyer, Cllr. Finley Karnga, but did not honor the appointment as he had already fled the country.

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About Cholo Brooks 11575 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, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.