LIBERIA: Global Witness Report On NSA Boss Under Scrutiny

sirleaf2A Liberian journalist Charles B. Yates has openly posed a challenge to the London base campaign group, Global Witness on its latest bribery scandal involving several top government officials of Liberia in an attempt to manipulate the concession laws of Liberia in favor of Sable Mining.

The journalist who has exhausted several days looking deep into the much talked about Global Witness report released recently implicating top government officials and private citizens, indicated that there are many questionable issues in the report.

According to the journalist, the GW report accused Cllr. Varney Sherman of distributing bribes to key members of the Liberian government in order to change the concession law and put it in the interest of his client (Sable Mining), who had hired his legal services.

One of those implicated in the report is the director of the Nation Security Agency of Liberia, Fumba Sirleaf, a man with implacable character. Yates said the NSA boss has no connection to the National Legislature that has the authority to change laws or make laws in the country. He is not a lawmaker, so how you derive to his name in your report to change laws?

The journalist recalled how the NSA boss rejected one million United State Dollars from the Columbia drug traffickers who wanted to make Liberia a transit hub for lucrative drug trade and wonders how now such character will settle for peanut like 9500USD? “This is unbelievable; if this man could be manipulated then it would have been by the drug traffickers who were offering millions. Journalist Yates maintained that director Sirleaf has no fish to fry in the business of the national legislature. “The NSA has the responsibility to do background check on any individual or company of interest to make sure that such person or company is cleared of any criminal records” Yates asserted.

See below: Mr. Sirleaf arrested the drug traffickers. (the Guardian Newspaper UK 2009)

On a sultry May afternoon in 2009, a car stopped at the end of a dirt road in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Guards toting Kalashnikov rifles opened the gate to a large house, and the vehicle rolled into the driveway, setting off a chorus of barking by a group of mastiffs caged inside the compound. A muscular Nigerian named Chigbo Umeh stepped out of the car with two Colombians, both members of a drug cartel. The three were led into an elegantly decorated living room, where one of the most powerful figures in the Liberian government was waiting.

Their host was Fombah Teh Sirleaf, the stepson of Liberia’s president and director of the country’s National Security Agency. After Sirleaf had greeted the visitors, the men sat down to talk. Chigbo, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that showed off his biceps, opened the conversation with a line that summed up his worldview. “In this life,” he said, smiling, “you have to make some money.” He then spelled out the cartel’s proposition: it would pay Sirleaf handsomely in exchange for his help in using Liberia as a transit hub for smuggling cocaine from Colombia into Europe. The traffickers would bring the cocaine into the west African country by air and sea; from there, they would move it to cities across western Europe, where the drug fetches as much as £34,000 per kilogramme.

Sirleaf assured them of his cooperation before sitting back and letting his representative, who called himself Nabil Hage, take over. Hage, a balding man of Mediterranean descent, laid out the terms of the deal, fiddling with a pack of Marlboro Lights as he spoke. Sirleaf’s men would take care of security arrangements at the airport and at ports. For bringing in a tonne of cocaine, the traffickers would have to pay $1m upfront and provide 50kg of cocaine that Hage said would be smuggled to the United States. He was very insistent on this final point.

The meeting went on for two hours, with Chigbo and Hage doing most of the talking. Chigbo, blustery and keen to control the negotiations, cut Hage off when Hage began conversing directly with the Colombians in Spanish. “These are my people,” he told Hage sternly. “You don’t talk to them. You talk to me.” Worried about eavesdropping, Chigbo would pause the discussion every time Sirleaf’s housekeeper came in to serve drinks or empty the ashtray. One of the Colombians took notes on a tablet computer. The two sides eventually agreed to an advance payment of $200,000; the balance would be paid after the traffickers had brought their first shipment into the country.

Shortly after the visitors had left, three agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived. One of the agents was Sam Gaye, a friend of Sirleaf. Every minute of the meeting had been recorded by cameras hidden inside the room. What the traffickers had taken as the closing of a deal was in fact the opening of a sting operation planned by the DEA and the Liberian National Security Agency.

Reviewing the videos of the meeting, Gaye thought Chigbo’s face looked familiar. Later, when he saw a mug shot of the Nigerian, familiarity turned into recognition. “I know this guy,” Gaye said. “I arrested him in the 1990s.

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About Cholo Brooks 17198 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.