Liberia: Central Bank New Executive Director Sidiki Fofana Has Troubling Past

Philadelphia, PA and Monrovia, Liberia – February 1, 2019: An investigation conducted by the West African Journal Magazine into a new employee in a senior level position at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has revealed some troubling information.

Mr. Sidiki Sekou Fofana, also known as Sidiki Fofana, and now goes by Hamed Sifonic in Liberia, a former resident of the cities of Darby and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, the United States, has since assumed the position of Executive Bank Director since January 1, 2019 in the Weah Administration in the small and impoverished West African country.

Sidiki Fofana Dossier
Sidiki Fofana Dossier

A 79 page dossier of public records obtained from Pennsylvania state government and other public data contained the following on Mr. Fofana:

  1. Parking Offense
  2. Driving an Unregistered vehicle
  3. Allowing the Illegal Use of a License plate/card
  4. Operating A Vehicle Without Insurance
  5. Operating a Vehicle With Inspection
  6. Improper Pass On The Right
  7. Driving on the Wrong Way
  8. Careless Driving
  9. Failure To Yield
  10. Failure To Yield To Work Vehicle and
  11. Illegal Parking Where Official Sign Prohibit
magisterialcourtdoc-philadelphia
Magisterial Court Docs – Pennsylvania

Mr. Fofana whose position is not directly reflected in the bank’s current organizational structure also had several liens and judgements filed against him in the City of Philadelphia:

  1. Federal lien for $5,749 filed on November 5, 2010
  2. Civil Judgment for $4,475 filed on August 9, 2012
  3. Civil Lien for $2,355 filed on July 6, 2012
  4. Civil Judgment for $1,763 filed on August 20, 2012
  5. Civil Judgement for $1,140 filed on April 2, 2012
  6. Civil Judgment filed for $1,458 filed on July 28, 2011
  7. Civil Judgment filed for $1,100 filed on July 2, 2011
  8. Civil Judgment for $1,613 filed on August 26, 2011 and
  9. Civil Judgment for $895 filed on August 5, 2018

The most egregious offense include a charge of Retail Theft of Merchandise by Mr. Fofana on May 29, 2018. He initially pleaded Not Guilty on June 19, 2018 and recently as of November 21, 2018, pleaded guilty in a Magisterial Court in Pennsylvania. Penalty was imposed and Fofana paid $210.25 and the case was closed.

sidikisekoufofana
Mr. Sidiki Sekou Fofana

Fofana was also booked on December 18, 2016 and charged with the misdemeanor of Driving Under the Influence with a high rate Blood Level Alcohol (BAC ) of .10 to under .16 detected by a breathalyzer test. In Pennsylvania, “…The first time you are arrested and convicted for drunk driving in the State of Pennsylvania you will receive 6 months of probation and a $300 fine if your BAC was between .08-.99. If your BAC was from .10-.159 you will receive from 2 days to 6 months of prison time prison, a $500-$5,000 fine and a 12 month driver’s license suspension. One drink equals 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor (40% alcohol), 12 ounces of beer (4.5% alcohol), or 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol). Under current Pennsylvania law, (.08 BAC and higher) is legally intoxicated.

Since it was his first offense, he was diverted to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)  which is  a special pre-trial intervention program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States for non-violent offenders with no prior or limited record. Defendants in an ARD program are placed under supervision which is also similar to probation.

centralbankofliberiabuilding
Central Bank of Liberia Building In Monrovia

Senior level employees of the Central Bank including the Governor, his Deputy, and those in operational roles, as would Mr. Fofana, are required to be “persons of good standing and unimpeachable character from the business and academic communities with experience and expertise in business, banking, finance , economics and management…” according to the Bank. Fofana has no real professional experience which he brings to the banking sector in Liberia which has been dogged by a “missing $16 billion” scandal. It is unclear if relevant authorities and citizens are aware of the information from the past of Fofana.

He has, however, transitioned to Liberia and is already functioning in his position which is considered critically strategic since he will have access to highly confidential information, contribute to decision-making and oversee general administrative operations at the Central Bank.

The Weah Administration has been dogged by charges of appointing incompetent individuals with no professional experience and in some instances, troublesome legal past.

liberia-political-map
Political Map of Liberia

In a separate development, Liberia’s Central Bank is establishing a “robust” credit reference system to help address the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs). President George M. Weah, in his State of the Union address on Monday, disclosed that the Non-Performing Loans remain a challenge for his government. CBL data showed total NPLs of total loans stood at 163% last April but declined to 12.3 % last July.

“The central bank is taking steps … to address the issue of non-performing loans,” the Liberia President told citizens.

(This story has been updated)

By Our Correspondents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Monrovia, Liberia

West African Journal Magazine

 

Former Liberian Rebel NPFL Spokesman Tom Woewiyu Facing Prosecution In Philadelphia

A one time close associate of former Liberian rebel leader turned President Charles Taylor is facing federal prosecutors in a court room in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA beginning Monday, July 11th.

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, a former Defense Minster of the now disbanded rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) goes on trial on immigration fraud charges and for failing to disclose his involvement in one of the most brutal civil conflagration in Liberia, West Africa in the 1990s.

Woewiyu allegedly hid critical information from U.S. Immigration authorities when he applied for citizenship in 2006. He traveled regularly to Liberia from the U.S.

Court documents quote federal prosecutors as saying, ““Perhaps no other member of the NPFL save for Charles Taylor was more prominent in the public sphere…”

Woewiyu, a resident of Collingdale since the 1970’s, was a major actor in the rebel invasion which was launched on Christmas eve 1989 in northern Liberia. He is remembered to prosecuting the advance of the war towards the Liberian capital as spokesperson for the NPFL in daily interviews he gave to the BBC Focus on Africa program with Robin White.

Terrified residents across Liberia cowering in fear during curfew hours listened to the BBC for accounts of the rebel advance. Major human rights organizations have recounted thousands of rebel and government troops atrocities in areas under their control.

Former Rebel NPFL Leader Charles Taylor

Five American Catholic missionaries were killed by rebel forces during the rebel invasion in Gardnersville on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia. An estimated 250,000 people were killed and another 1 million others displaced internally and externally, making the conflict one of the worst in human history. Thousands of Liberians and Sierra Leonens were maimed by marauding rebels.

On October 15, 1992, Taylor’s NPFL launched a vicious attack on the Liberian capital and West African peacekeepers with the aim of capturing it and installing himself as President. The sustained attack was beaten back by the peacekeepers with assistance from the a small but highly trained militia group known as the Black Berets who were loyal to the then Interim Government of National Unuty (IGNU) led by Professor Dr. Amos Sawyer.

In their retreat, NPFL forces kidnapped civilians who were taken to their bases in Kakata and Gbarnga. Casualties of the Octopus assault are still unknown.

Map of Liberia

West African countries whose citizens were targeted by the NPFL intervened with the insertion of peacekeeping forces in Liberia to stem the bloodletting and humanitarian disaster in 1990. A number of peace conferences involving the various warring factions ultimately led to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the establishment of an interim mechanism to lead the country to national elections which Charles Taylor won in 1997.

However, more instability ensued and Taylor was forced out of power in August, 2003 under pressure from advancing rebels and the international community. Taylor was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

In 2006 the Sirleaf administration formally requested Taylor’s extradition from Nigeria.

Taylor was arrested as he fled Nigeria, transferred to the Hague and prosecuted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). He was found guilty on 11 charges including terror, rape, war crimes and crimes against humanity in April, 2012 and sentenced to fifty years in jail. He is currently serving his sentence in a UK jail.

Liberia underwent 14 years of bloody back-to-back conflicts between 1989 – 2003, with spill over of the conflict over into neighboring Sierra Leone.

A UN Mission took over security and provided humanitarian support for Liberia beginning 2003 and successfully completed its mission on March 30, 2018 following the democratic elections.

Another war actor who was residing in the suburb of Philadelphia Mohammed Jabbateh known by the non-de-guerre “Jungle Jabbah” was picked by US Immigration and prosecuted by federal authorities also for immigration fraud charges.

He was convicted and is serving a 30 year jail sentence after which he will be deported to Liberia.

Flag of Liberia

Meantime, the new Weah Administration in Liberia is facing growing calls for fully implementing recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) including the establishment of a local war crimes court to prosecute individuals named as bearing the most responsibility for atrocities committed during the civil wars.

At a program on March 30th marking the closing of the UN Mission in Liberia, the Deputy UN Secretary General told the Liberian government to handle “unfinished business” of national reconciliation and the constitution including the establishment of a war crimes court.

But the current Liberian government and its supporters have signaled that the establishment of a war crimes court is not a priority, citing risk to the fragile “peace” in the country.

Woewiyu has denied the US government allegations against him.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal