Liberia: Text Of Statement Delivered By Protesters Delivered To Int’l Community

PETITION STATEMENT

September 24, 2018

The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), a mass-based umbrella pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization consisting of over 26 civil society organizations, youth/student groups and trade unions, have peacefully rallied and assembled conscious and patriotic Liberians from every sphere of our society to petition you in pursuit of L$16 billion (US$106 million) that mysteriously disappeared under the government of President George M. Weah.

With oneness of purpose and an unhindered allegiance to Liberia and posterity, we have come on this day to send this clarion message to our International Partners through you:

1 We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.

1 We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen L$16 billion. All those linked in this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount.

1 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to immediately release the internal investigative report of the Central Bank of Liberia that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referenced in her latest interview on BCC. This report in our opinion could unravel a lot of hidden secrets and untold realities.

1 We call on you to assist Liberia in auditing all financial transactions done so far under President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We are also concerned about the recent infusion of US$25 million in the Liberian economy by the Weah-led government. We are also interested in knowing the source of this US$ 25 million and how it was infused in the economy. This we believe must be thoroughly investigated as well.

2 COCUBOMB craves your indulgence most respectfully to launch an investigation into the giant-sized private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high-profile members of his government in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion.

3 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to ensure full asset declaration by all public officials especially the President either before or during the course of the Independent International Forensic Investigation.

1 We call on you to expedite the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. This we believe would end the longstanding culture of impunity and guarantee justice for Liberia and Liberians especially war victims. This approach would certainly serve as a deterrence for would be war and economic criminals.

1 We submit to you the urgency to fully overhaul/upgrade Liberia’s financial management system in order to maintain fiscal discipline, accountability, transparency and public integrity at all levels. The need to reinforce and rebrand anti-graft institutions such as LACC, GAC, FIU, PPCC, LEITI and IAA cannot be overemphasized. Corruption especially in the judiciary must also be dealt with.

1 We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MoFDP, CBL, MICAT and RIA) that had/have direct link to this missing container immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.

The people of Liberia through COCUBOMB remain very concerned and disturbed about those missing billion (US$106 million) that vanished without any trace up to now. It is sad that the government has been dishonest and inconsistent in releasing the facts. Accounts surrounding this missing L$16 billion from the MoJ, MoFDP, MICAT and even the Office of the President remain contradictory and are compounded with fundamental flaws.

The government cannot be the accused, the defendant, and at the same time the jurist. The Liberian people need their money back. Those who viciously siphoned our resources MUST account and account now! THE PEOPLE are resolved about this and we will not rest until this L$16 billion is fully accounted for by those we describe as ‘vicious economic scavengers and plunderers of our State’.

In all of these, we assure the Liberian people and the International Community that we shall remain peaceful, civil and matured as we pursue this irreversible and patriotic path of bringing an end to systemic corruption in Liberia.

The people deserve better – they deserve to rise above poverty, misery and inequality. It cannot be business as usual. The International Community must ACT to help rescue Liberia from perishing. The popular call of our PEOPLE is “BRING BACK OUR MONEY”.

COCUBOMB calls for the full protection of Journalists Philibert Brown of Hot Pepper Newspaper and Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa. We also call on you to protect the rights of campaigners who are demanding the full restitution of this L$16 billion. As we jealously protect the sovereignty and heritage of our State by standing up to those barriers (corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and religious intolerance) that kept us down as a people, we call you to join us in this pursuit to ensure that President Weah and his government account for L$16 billion that disappeared in thin air.

Done and sealed on this 24th Day of September A.D. 2018 in the City of Monrovia by through COCUBOMB, a representation of the Liberian people.

Signed: ______________________________________

                                 Jeremiah S. Swen

                     Secretary General, COCUBOMB

 

Approved: ____________________________________

                                   Martin K. N. Kollie

                               Chairman, COCUBOMB

To: US Embassy, United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, French Embassy

Reputable Organizations that have endorsed this statement:

1 Student Unification Party (SUP)

2 People Action Network (PAN-Liberia)

3 Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL)

4 Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA)

5 Liberia Labor Congress (LLC)

6 Workers’ Union of Liberia (WUL)

7 Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

8 Alliance for Transitional Justice in Liberia (ATJL)

9 Teachers in Action for Concerns (TAC-Liberia)

10 Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)

11 Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACAL)

12 Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL)

13 Movement of Social Democratic Alliance (MOSODA)

14 Financial Communication Sector Union (FCSU)

15 National Cosmetology Union of Liberia (NCUL)

16 Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth League in Support of Weah (AOPPYL)

17 Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora (CLD)

18 Citizen Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Courts (CAEWECC)

19 Zorzor and Salayea Muslim Development Association (ZSMDA)

20 Forum for Democracy and Civic Education (FODCE)

21 Liberia National Student Union (LINSU)

22 TAG – Liberia

23 Concerned University and College Students (CUCS)

24 Conscious High School Students of Liberia (CHSL)

25 S. K. Doe Community Youth Association (SAKDOCYA)

26 Masses Against Poverty (MAP)

27  Federation of Sinkor Youth Association (FESYA)

28 Liberian Youth for Democracy

29 Agenda for Peace and Democracy

30 National Youth Against Violence (NYAV)

 

Liberia: Small Student Protest Held Amidst Official Independence Anniversary Program

Liberian Student Activist Martin Kollie

A “peaceful protest”called by student groups against the Liberian President George Weah over his failure to declare his assets went ahead Thursday, according to the organizers.

A smaller group of of 300 students and supporters attempted to gather in the city center close to where the government official program was being held but were driven off by police who fired tear-gas at their assembly. A smaller number of students and sympathizers, according to a source, then relocated to the Benson Street area, north of downtown Monrovia and not too far from the area where foreign embassies are located to continue their peaceful protest.

Protesting Students

Protest leader Martin Kollie says he is still in hiding and only came out on Thursday to lead the peaceful protest. Police in Liberia have not confirmed any arrests.

According to him, police made arrests of some protesters. He disclosed that one Emmanuel Tamba, a student activist has been missing since Wednesday.

In a late Wednesday night Facebook video post, student protest leaders at the state runned University of Liberia vowed that the protest would proceed as planned for Thursday, which is also the Independence anniversary of the small West African country.

The student protest leaders disclosed they were in hiding an undisclosed location because an “order” had been issued by the Government for their arrest and detention, adding that they have made their position known in discussions with the UN and other international community members.

They catalogued a long list of grievances including a constitutional violation by President Weah over his refusal to declare his assets, the expense of about $500,000 USD for Independence day celebrations when citizens are dealing with tough economic times and recent police action against some students. Three student leaders were arrested over the weekend after chaos erupted at a program held at the Monrovia City Hall but Police on Tuesday released the students without charge.

Some Student Protesters Marching on Thursday in Monrovia

Two student leaders of the Student Unification political Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia,

Martin Kollie and Butu Levi who appeared Wednesday night on a Facebook video and strongly criticized the Liberian government for pushing ahead with independence day celebrations when parts of the capital Monrovia and nearby areas are still flooded from heavy rains in the last week.

The students cited the continuing economic hardship Liberians were experiencing under the Weah Administration since its incumbency in January. They say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The student leaders say they have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble and petition their government and did not need a permit.

The country’s Justice Ministry warned on Wednesday that any persons or group of persons desiring to engage in protest, must, in keeping with law, obtain a permit.

Ruling CDC Party Chairman Mulbah Morlu and some partisans Marching In Monrovia on Thursday

On Thursday, however, some partisans including Chairman Mulbah Morlu of the the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), dressed in party T-shirts with a photo of President George Weah were seen marching in the streets in the capital Monrovia. There was no police presence to confront them. Some residents questioned if, in keeping with the warning of the Justice Department, the CDC partisans had obtained government permit.

Meantime, Thursday was a national holiday in Liberia in observance of the country’s 171st independence anniversary. National Orator Samuel Tweah

An official program was attended by government officials and some members of the opposition. Independence Day Anniversary oration was the country’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.

According to the Presidential Palace quoting President George Weah, in a special statement at the official Independence Day Program, the Liberian President prayed God’s blessings, direction and guidance as Liberians endeavor to chart a new course for the country.

Program Honor Guard on Thursday in Monrovia

President Weah said developing the nation would prove fruitless and futile in the absence of peace and unity amongst Liberians.

“In order to move Liberia ahead and achieve sustainable development, we must be united and at peace with ourselves; we need a strong union and the peace that abide in our hearts for the prosperity of our beloved country. I, therefore, call upon all you, irrespective of our political persuasions, to join me and let’s build a better Liberia.  Let us begin now to move our country; let us come together to recover the lost years, ” the Liberian Leader told his people.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberian Students Urge President Weah To Declare Assets In Keeping With Law; Threaten Protests

Student March Led By SUP in Monrovia

Student groups in the small West African nation of Liberia say they condemn the latest crackdown on students by the Mayor of the City of Monrovia.

In a press statement issued late on Tuesday in the capital Monrovia and copied to the local and international news media outlets, the Student Unification Political Party (SUP) of the state operated University of Liberia said, “…it is with utter regret and outmost displeasure, we, over 2.3 million Liberia youths and students through the Student Unification Party (SUP), the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY) and the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) categorically and vehemently condemn the flogging and subsequent arrests of student and youth leaders on the order of Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee…”

SUP Activists Addressing the Press

The student groups, in their statement , said they were informing Liberians and the international community that the George M. Weah Government “…has become severely brutal against peaceful students, youth leaders and armless civilians..”

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According to the press statement, under the signature of student activist Martin K.N. Kollie who recently led a small pop -up protest against the convoy of President Weah in the Paynesville suburb of the capital Monrovia are calling for President Weah to declare his assets in keeping with law on or before July 25 or they will stage a mass protest on July 26th.

The government of Liberia printed into handbill on June 20, 2014, “An Act of Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of The Republic of Liberia” in line with the 1986 constitutional requirement to curb certain vices which are inimical to the economic and social well-being of our common patrimony.

” Part 10.2 of the Code of Conduct also made provision for the repository of all declarations as quoted below:

“The declaration of personal interest, income, assets, liabilities and the performance bond as may be required shall be lodged with:

In the Legislative Branch, with the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representative;

In the Executive Branch, with the General Auditing Commission; and

In the Judicial Branch with the Clerk of Supreme Court; and in the event such receipt shall be notified to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)…”

SUP Sec General and Activist Martin Kollie

Student groups are increasingly becoming disenchanted with with new national government which was inaugurated in January, 2018.

Monrovia Mayor Jefferson Koijee

In challenging the authority of the Monrovia City Mayor, SUP student activists declared that academic campuses of the state operated University on Capitol Hill near the seat of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative branches of the Liberian government and its suburban Fendall facility are “No Go Zone” for the Mayor and the Liberia National Police (LNP). They have vowed to resist police presence on their campus.

Flag of Liberia

The statement from students called for a national boycott of National Independence festivities scheduled for July 26, adding, ” …there is nothing to celebrate when extreme poverty, economic hardship, and police brutality are on the increase…” Liberia, the oldest independent African country, is celebrating 171 years of independence on July 26. Various official programs have begun in and around the capital Monrovia.

It is unclear if the call for a national boycott of Independence anniversary activities and a mass protest will be headed.

Police Chief Patrick Sudue

The latest students agitation spilled into the open at formal program for a “dialogue” between youths and students and President Weah in Monrovia on Monday. Some students objected to the recognition of another student faction at the program citing illegitimate leadership of the other student group. Pandemonium ensued leading to police beating and arrests of some student leaders including Flomo Mau, head of SUP, Augustine Tamba of FLY and Amos Williams, Abigail Freeman and Seawon Liewaye by police. The student groups are calling for the unconditional release of their leaders and have accused the police of the use of disproportionate use of force against them.

Reports just received say the students arrested have now been released by police without charge. The Liberian Justice Ministry and police have yet to officially comment on the matter.

SUP Logo

Meantime, some supporters of the current government are accusing the students of attempting the foment a civil crisis to embarrass the government.

Students at the state University and others have a history of political advocacy for rights and freedom in Liberia since the 1970s.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

University Students Lead Protest Against Rising Inflation in Liberia

Monrovia, 4 July, 2018:

Map of Liberia

The ECOWAS Civil Union on Monday diffused a growing protest called by the  Student Unification Party(SUP) at the state-runned University of Liberia demanding reduction in the high prices of basic essential commodities in the country.

Knowing how protests sparked by UL students can become potentially contagious with domino effects, our correspondent in Monrovia reports that the ECOWAS civil society Union recognized the concerns of the students as “genuine”, but urged them to observe caution and pursue their grievances through dialogue with government authorities.

Protesting University Students in Liberia

In a statement, the ECOWAS Civil Society Union advised President George M. Weah to act swiftly to avoid any conflict in Liberia where peace is still fragile. 

But a talkshow host at the  Freedom Radio which is sympathetic to the Weah government dismissed the protestors as “academic failures and disgruntled elements of opposition parties.”

The aggrieved protestors had gathered on their Capitol Hill campus in central Monrovia chanting “Let the high exchange rate come down; let high prices on the market come down;” let the high prices petroleum products come down”; let high transportation costs come down.”

Similar cries have become a daily refrain on dozens of community radio stations throughout the country.

The exchange rate between one USD and the local currency, the Liberian Dollar is 155 in Monrovia and much more higher  in difficult to  reach areas outside the capital where prices are even much higher.

During a sampling survey in the eastern suburb of Barnesville Monday, our correspondent observed several housewives complaining of being confused whenever husbands give  them only LD500 to cook at home.

“So, last Saturday I urged my husband to buy the grocery in  the market for me to cook,” Madam Victoria Kollie narrated.

“But my husband returned without buying anything saying total cost of what he wanted to buy was LD850 while the LD500 he had was not enough,” she noted, and urged other housewives to expose their husbands to harsh realities on the food market too.

Liberia Dollar Rate Conversion Posted

But the continued failure of the Weah-led  government to pronounce a roadmap for economic recovery–bread and butter issues–was painfully confounding Liberians.

By Tepitapia Sannah

Monrovia, Liberia