Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Liberia, Scratch card scammer exposed, but helped by police to escape justice

By: Sam K Zinnah
Law enforcement officer, State of Delaware

On Thursday September 29, 2011 at approximately 7: 15 pm local time, scammer Alfred Wenyu, the man believed to be behind the major scratch card scamming in Liberia was caught right handed in another attempt to scam one of his many victims. Mr. Sam K Zinnah who was previously scammed by Alfred Wenyu on September 16 and 17 was already on the alert for the suspected scammer.

How he scammed me

On September 16, 2011 while returning to Barnersville, I received a phone call from a lone star cell number “0880978527”. After answering my phone, the caller introduced herself as Senator Gloria Musu-Scott and thanked me for the rating given the government of Liberia during my interview on ELBC radio on September 15, 2011. The caller said she was on her way to Gbarpolu County to campaign for Unity Party. At that point we ended the conversation and terminated the phone call. Few minutes later, I received a phone call from the same lone star cell number “0880978527”. This time, the caller said “Mr. Zinnah, this is Senator Musu-Scott again, I need a favor from you. Am in Gbarpolu County campaigning but I just ran out of scratch card and would like for you to send me $20.00 scratch card or transfer”. I understand you have a meeting with Senator Naatehn on Monday. He invited me to that meeting also. I will pay your money after the meeting. Without hesitating, I immediately call my nephew and instructed him to send the $20.00 scratch card to the designated number “0880978527”.few minutes after my instruction, the scratch card was electronically transferred to the designated number.

On the morning of September 17, 2011, I received another phone call from a 0777201575 number. The caller introduced herself as Cllr. Frances Johnson-Morris and said “Mr. Zinnah, this is Cllr. Frances Johnson-Morris, the head of the anti-corruption commission. I’m in Gbarpolu with Senator Musu-Scott on the campaign trail. We were together last night when you sent the $20.00 transfer to her phone. I too just ran out of scratch card, please send me $20.00 card, I will pay you back when I return to Monrovia on Monday morning”. Again, I instructed the transfer of $20.00 scratch card to the designated number “0777201575”. The transfer was made and confirmed by the recipient. On the evening of September 17, 2011, I discussed the transaction with a government official who happens to be Cllr. Johnson-Morris’s former work mate at the NEC who dismissed the possibility of Cllr. Morris asking for scratch card in such dubious manner. The NEC official informed me that I was a victim of scam.

It was at this point that I became to organize my puzzle to enable me prepare my plans to capture the scammer. On the evening of September 18, 2011, I attempted calling the two suspicious numbers from another phone number. After dialing the 0880978527, the phone rang twice without respond. I hung up and dialed the 0777201575 number. Again, the phone rang twice without respond. After the two attempts, I was at least sure that the numbers were working numbers. On Monday morning (09/19/2011, I drove to Lone star offices to inquire about the process of getting information on any active phone number(s). I was told to file the case with the Liberia National Police who will then order the phone company to release information about the allege phone numbers to a competent court of jurisdiction.

Determined to capture the scammer, I left the lone star office and drove to The Liberia National police headquarters. Upon arrival at the LNP headquarters, I went to the front desk and explain the transaction to a female police officer who then directed me to the second floor CID division. I went upstairs and met with a plain clothes officer who asked me to explain the transaction to him. Again, I explained the transaction to the CID officer. I was sent to another room on the same second floor where I was again asked to explain the case/transaction to another plain clothes officer who was sitting behind the desk with a huge ledger-like log book. I for the third time explained the case or transaction to the officer who later told me to return to the first “CID” room to register the case. I returned to the first room and was place in the queue where I sat for almost 15 minutes without talking to anyone.

After 20 minutes, another plain clothes officer appeared in the office and sat behind the desk with a big ledger like log book. The plain clothes officer asked, “sir, why are you here”? for the fourth time I explained the transaction to the officer who later told me that I had to go to the Barnersville police station to file the case. Frustrated about the handling of the case, I decided to design my own strategy to capture the suspected scammer.

I left the LNP headquarters and return home. While strategizing the capture of the scammer, another call came from the same 0880978527 number. Again, the caller claimed to be Senator Gloria Musu-Scott but this time in Nimba County with the President. She said “Mr. Zinnah, I’m campaigning in Nimba with president Sirleaf. Please send me $20.00 scratch card”. I told the caller that my phone was experiencing some technical problems but I was still willing to help. The caller said “thank you so much” without even asking or knowing how I was going to help. I said to the scammer “my friend Mary Broh is also with the president in Nimba, I will call and ask her to transfer the requested scratch card to your phone”. The caller immediately rejected the offer and said “oh! I’m not in the same group with Mary Broh, I’m in another village with the president but that’s ok, we can do it another time”. My relax tune of conversation gave the caller no clue about my plans to capture him and have him place behind bars.

How he was captured

On September 29, 2011 at about 2 o’clock local time while touring Monrovia city hall, I received a call from 0776853290. The caller introduced himself as Alfred Wenyu “the blind musician”. He said “Mr. Zinnah I’m a blind musician scheduled to travel to Ghana over the weekend. I’m looking for donation to help with my trip. Is there any way you can help?” deep down in my heart, I was convinced that the caller was my target. Relaxed and very confident, I expressed interest in providing some help or donation for the caller’s trip to Ghana but suggested to see him in person to deliver some other items I would also like to donate to him from the U.S. I asked him to direct me to his house to drop off the donation but he became a bit insecure and suggested that he instead meet me at a location other than his home. To give him more assurance or security, I accepted his suggestion but he immediately hung up and put his phone on 21 (to inform callers that his phone is switched off but in actuality, he will receive message for every miss call). I attempted calling him several times but all effort to reach him was not successful. At about 5:25 pm I sent him a text message that read “sir, am trying to reach you to give my contribution but your phone is switched off. I will be going out of town in the next 20 minutes and might not come back until after the elections”. Less than a minute after the text message was sent, Alfred Wenyu called back and asked “where are you now?, I gave him my location and advised him to meet me at the lone star gas station in Jacob town. He said “ok, let me ask motor bike to bring me there”.

I arrived at the gas station and anxiously waited for the arrival of Alfred Wenyu. Few minutes later, a dark skin, skinny criminal looking guy with kids eye glasses arrived on a motorbike and parked in the gas station. He pulled out his old bonanza phone tied with rubber stripes and attempted to call me. I walked to the motorbike and introduced myself to him as Mr. Zinnah. I held his right hand and assisted him to get off the bike. After successfully getting on the ground, Wenyu pretended as if he was a blind man. I held onto his right hand and guided him to the table where he sat while I order a drink for him. The order for cold fanta was placed for Mr. Wenyu who sat and covertly watch me with one eye while I walked around for his cold drink.
The cold fanta was served. Mr. Wenyu took the first drag out of the battle and lay back in the white plastic chair to help settle his thirst. I pulled a nearby chair and sat close to Mr. Wenyu and took a deep breath. My first question to him was “sir, how did you get my number?” he responded by saying “from somebody”. At that point, the suspicion was heating up over his head. My second question to him was “sir, where are you from?”, he responded “my mother is from Gbarolu County””. When asked what was his mother’s name, Alfred Wenyu murmurs his mother’s name and said “you know I just came from campaigning in Gbarpolu. At this point, I was one hundred percent convinced that I was sitting with the man who have succeeded in scamming hundreds of people in Liberia over the past years.

Being so confident that my hands were on my most wanted man, I decided to break the news to Alfred Wenyu. I said to him “sir, I was duped twice few weeks ago by a scam network believed to be operated by you, we can either find a mutual solution to it right here or take it to court where I will present all the evidence against you and be left with the judge to sentence you to jail”. I instructed Wenyu to wait for me at the table while I talk the motorbike man that transported him to the gas station. I slowly approached the motorbike rider and confronted him with the issue. I asked him to talk to his colleague to either tell the true or they both face the full weight of the law. The motorbike man agreed to negotiate the deal. While the two suspected criminals were discussing, I immediately alerted the Jacob’s town police with the help of the Jacob town community leader “Mr. Tokpa” who was at the Lone Star gas station during the incident. When police arrived at the gas station, they questioned Alfred Wenyu who agreed to being the guy behind what is believed to be Liberia’s biggest scratch card scam group. When taken to the police station in Jacob town, Alfred Wenyu confessed to the police and asked for pardon based on his blind condition. I said to Alfred Wenyu, “sir, we are not trying to prosecute you because you are blind, we are trying to prosecute you because you are a suspected criminal”. Wenyu was ordered by inspector Bacuba Jallah to remove his shade from his face. I stood few inches from Wenyu to observe or authenticate his claim of being blind. Wenyu refused to remove the shade from his face and argued that the breeze affects his eyes without the shades. Inspector Bacuba Jallah removed the shade from Wenyu’s face and it was noticed that Wenyu’s left eye is damaged while his right eye was shinning like a bright star. To test Wenyu’s vision, I attempted to poke his right eye with my right hand, Wenyu quickly dodge my hand and took a step backward from where I stood. We were all convinced that Wenyu was not telling the true about his condition.

After Wenyu failed the vision test, Inspector Bacuba Jallah ordered one of the female officers at the station to take statement from both the complainer and the defendant. At this point, I confiscated suspect Wenyu’s cell phone and decided to check his call and other activity logs in his phone. In his incoming call log, I saw calls that I had placed to him prior to our meeting that led to his capture or arrest. My next stop in his phone was his phone book/contacts. In here, shocking contacts were seen. Some of the names I can still vividly recall were: President Sirleaf, H.B. Fahnbulleh, Joseph Boakai, Senator Daniel Naatehn, Senator Musu-Scott, Hon. Frances Johnson Morris, Senator Barlue, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Mr. Robert Sirleaf, & Senator Momo. Determined to get the source(s) of Wenyu’s data collection, I moved my search to his text messages box. I discovered text messages from different lone star phone numbers to Wenyu. The question that came to my mind was “why lone star numbers only?”. From one lone star number, a number was text to Wenyu without name. Few minutes after the text was sent, the sender noticed that the number was not named. The same number was resend this time with name to identify the number. The number read “06…… and was named H.B. Fahnbulleh. After figuring out the intent of the message, I was convinced that Wenyu was operating with external help.
Wenyu’s incoming text message box was jammed with transfer messages received from different phone numbers with transfer amount ranging from USD$5.00 to $20.00. One of the numbers I identified was that of Cllr. Jerome Korkoya of The Dunbar &Dunbar law firm and also a representative aspirant in Bong County. At about 8:00 pm local time I placed a call to Cllr. Jerome Korkoya to ask him whether he had been dubbed by any scratch card scammer. At the top of his soft spoken voice, he answered in the affirmative, “yes!” He (Cllr. Korkoya) in turn asked, what happen Sam?, I said to him, “Sir, I’m also a victim but I got hold of the guy and we are currently at the Jacob Town Police Station. I asked Cllr. Korkoya, “how much did you transfer to him?” he said he transfer $60.00 total to the scammer before realizing that it was a scam. I asked Cllr. Korkoya to text me the number he transferred the credit to. In less than a minute he text me a number 0880978527 which matched the number used as Musu-Scott to scam me. When asked Cllr. Korkoya what name was used during the transaction, he said the caller posed as Senator John Barlue and that he (Senator Barlue) was stranded on the highway.

Cllr. Korkoya was very excited about the apprehension of the scammer but said he could not make it to the police station because he was in Bong County. He promised to follow up on the case upon his return from Bong County after the elections.
After concluding with Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, I called Senator Musu-Scott who was also campaigning in her County. She too was very interested in the details of the story.
I completed my few contacts and got back to the female police officer who was ordered to take statement from me and Wenyu. I prepared my statement and presented it to the officer in charge. Again, I pulled out my cell phone and this time, placed a call to True FM. I spoke to Chris Salee and broke the news to him about the capture of the man believed to be behind the scratch card scam group in Monrovia. I was interviewed live during the 9:00 o’clock pm news hour on True F.M. After the news, calls began pouring in from Alfred Wenyu’s victims from different parts of Monrovia.

Evidence beyond reasonable doubt

On the morning of September 30, 2011, I returned to the Jacob Town police Station and ask for two police officers to escort me to the suspect’s house. CID commander Stephen McClain and CID officer Ballah along with the motor bike driver and suspect Alfred Wenyu escorted me to the suspect’s house. Upon arrival to the suspect’s house, we identify a lady claiming to be the suspect’s girl friend. Suspect Alfred Wenyu, led by his girl friend, entered the room. Using his hands as guide to locate his bag, suspect Wenyu walked by the walls and reach out to the Colombo block window where his bag was hanging. He grabbed his bag and began searching in the smaller packets where he had his numeral sim cards. He pulled out three sim (subscriber identity module) cards and handed them to CID officer Ballah.

After suspect Wenyu handed the sim cards to officer Ballah, I asked suspect Wenyu, “do you have anything in here that we need to include in our investigation?” suspect Wenyu responded, “no”. I turned to suspect Wenyu’s girl friend who was sitting on the half inch filthy looking mattress and asked, “lady, do you have anything private in here that you need to get out?” she responded, “yes I do”. I asked whether it was money or something else. The lady said she had some money in the room that she needed to get out. I instructed her to get the money out.
While she was making effort to make her way to where the money was hidden, I asked, “who owns the money and how much is it?” the lady said the money in question was USD$385.00. Of the total, suspect Wenyu owned $100.00. I took out my pen and began jotting down information from both suspect Wenyu and his partner in crime. When asked about the rest of the money, the lady claimed the $285.00 was given to her by her uncle. She lifted the taint and grubby looking mattress and took out the money. I ordered her to hand the money to officer Ballah. When she did, officer Ballah counted the money in the presence of everyone in the room. The amount was confirmed by officer Ballah. With my pen pointing to my note pad, I asked her “what’s your uncle’s name?, she responded, “he’s Nathaniel Dahn”. Asked where was Nathaniel Dahn at the moment? she said Mr. Dahn was at work around the red light market. I again ask, “what’s your uncle’s contact phone number?” the lady said she did not have contact number for her uncle. My suspicion began gaining ground at that moment. I folded my note pad and said to officer Ballah and officer McClain “I think we can go back to the police station now”. Before exiting the room, I informed the suspect’s girlfriend that we were taking the money ($385.00) with us to the police station and that she should tell her uncle to contact the police station.

While on our way out of the house, we met an elderly man sitting on the front porch of the house. I greeted the man and ask “sir, do you live here?, he answer “yes”. I took out my note pad and ask “what’s your name sir” he responded “my name is Nathaniel Dahn” I compared the name to the one given me earlier by suspect Wenyu’s girlfriend. The name given by the man matched the one given by Wenyu’s girlfriend. Suspect Wenyu’s girlfriend ran to mr. Dahn and began speaking Gio while pretending to be taking something from the man’s right ear. CID officer McClain ordered the lady to stop talking and back off from Mr. Dahn. When the lady did step away from Mr. Dahn, I asked Mr. Dahn, “sir, did you give money to this lady?” Mr. Dahn responded “no, I did not give her money”. My suspicion and doubt about the statement taken from the lady were finally confirmed. The lady stood few feet away from us and stared at everyone with huge disappointment and guilt expressed on her face. CID officer McClain ordered the lady cuff. The silver looking hand cuff was placed on the lady’s hands while suspect Wenyu look on. The two (Wenyu & his girlfriend) were ordered to pose for a photograph. Officer Ballah photographed the two partners in crime. I too pull out my camera and took few snap shot at them for my personal record.

After the photograph, the lady requested to talk to me and the two CID officers. When she was granted the time to talk, she asked not to be taken to the police station because of some health complications she was faced with. She explained the nature of the problem and was released to stay home. Investigation continued with her boyfriend Wenyu. We proceeded to and boarded the car along with suspect Wenyu & his motorbike driver and headed back to the police station with the evidence collected during the search.

While in route to the police station, I asked suspect Wenyu, “sir, now that you and your girlfriend has given us conflicting statements about the money, what’s next? Are you ready to tell us the true? I further informed suspect Wenyu that I was very determined to expose his activities and to break his criminal empire. I further informed him that I was going to the phone companies to get his phone logs which would include the transaction of all the sim cards collected during the search of his room. Suspect Wenyu took a deep breath and said “ok, let me say the true, the scratch card or transfer I get from impersonating is what I sell to get money. I asked specifically if the $385.00 that was in the possession of the CID officer was raised from scratch card sale, Wenyu answered “yes”.

Upon arrival at the police station, we decided to authenticate the three sim cards collected from suspect Wenyu’s room during the search. Officer Ballah placed two of the sim cards in his personal phone. I went through my phone book and located two of the numbers used to scam me. I dialed 0880978527 (Musu-Scott), Officer Ballah’s phone (hosting the confiscated sim card) rang, thus confirming that suspect Alfred Wenyu was the man behind the scam operation that has victimized many Liberians including top government officials. After confirming the numbers, I asked CID commander Steven McClain, “now that we have the evidence beyond reasonable doubt to prosecute suspect Wenyu, what’s next?”, McClain responded, “we have all the evidence we need to prosecute this man, we will keep the evidence, transfer him to south beach (pre-trial) until the court decide the hearing or court date. We or the court will notify you once the date is set”.

Evidence destroyed by Police

On Monday October 10, 2011 I returned to the police station to check on the status of the case, to my surprise, I was informed by CID officer Ballah that suspect Alfred Wenyu was released. When asked what happen to the evidence, officer Ballah said “we give the blind man his money because it was not part of the investigation”. officer Ballah further informed me that the case was sent to the Paynesville Town Hall and that I should go there to check on the status. I stood by the police station, facing the soccer field near the Somalia drive and began profusely sweating. After few minutes, I returned to the CID office and asked officer McClain “sir, what happen to the $40.00 suspect Wenyu overtly agreed to getting from me by impersonating as Musu-Scott, who’s going to pay me back?”. Officer McClain responded, “The court will decide that”. Frustrated over the handling of the evidence, I turned around to exit the CID office. One of the officers asked me “sir, so what you get for us na?” I responded “do I look like an investor to you?”, their smiling faces quickly change thus matching my frustrated face. So, we became paste like ugly baboon but deep down in the officers’ heart, they collected their share of the $385.00 confiscated and pretended as if they return the money to the suspect.

Note: part two will be published if the alleged police station or officers respond.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary

[The media summaries and press clips do not necessarily represent the views of UNMIL.] Local News on Liberian Issues Behind Closed Doors – Ellen, Tubman Talk [Daily OBSERVER and New DEMOCRAT] • The standard bearer of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change, Counsellor Winston Tubman Tuesday met with incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf behind closed doors. • The meeting, which took place at the Trinity Cathedral on Broad Street, was aimed at achieving reconciliation to move the country forward. • The meeting between Sirleaf and Tubman, both Harvard University scholars and formerly of the United Nations was organized by the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Dr. Herman Browne. CDC Plans Black Friday - Partisans Take Petro-Bombs Lessons [The New Dawn] • Reports have hinted that some members of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) are insisting on carrying out the party’s planned mass demonstration in Monrovia Friday, against official warnings. • This follows the cancellation of the one announced for Monday, November 14 during a news conference hosted by its standard bearer, Winston Tubman Saturday at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town. • The reports further indicated that some CDCians referred to as ‘Generals’ of the Monday November 7 uproar were seen at the party’s headquarters in various groups discussing the strategies for the demonstration at the community levels in order to confuse and subdue state security in their efforts to prevent them. • The “November 7 Generals” most of whom are ex-combatants of defunct Liberian warring factions, according to the reports, were seen conducting practical training for a select group of partisans in producing and targeting petro-bombs in various areas of the city during the planned Friday demonstration. CEMESP Welcomes Re-opening of 4 Media Houses, But With Caution [The New Dawn] • The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) has said it welcomes the reopening of four media houses recently ordered closed by Criminal Court ‘A’ as a necessary action to promote peace and stability in Liberia. • However, CEMESP is concerned that the wording of the ruling suggests a limit to media reporting in the future. • The media group’s statement comes in response to a ruling by Criminal Court Judge James Zotaa in which he found the media organizations guilty of propagating hate messages, though he rescinded the petition to close the stations. • CEMESP considers the ruling as a gag order on the freedom of the media to freely report, and an inducement to other actors to continue censoring the media in Liberia, given that the media is prone to reporting issues of transparency and accountability that are necessary in the fight to curb corruption. CDC County Chairs Want Results Accepted [Daily OBSERVER, INSIGHT, New DEMOCRAT and The INQUIRER] • The 15 county chairpersons of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) have issued a statement calling on their leaders to accept the results of the just concluded run-off presidential election after the party leader, Counsellor Winston Tubman rejected them. • The county chairpersons want their leaders accept the result and push for a government of inclusion. • But party chair, Geraldine Doe Sheriff expressed no knowledge about the document. • She remarked “There must be an ulterior motive for doing that. Maybe they have been bought over by the ruling party.” Go and Sin No More – Criminal Court Judge Warns Media Houses [Daily OBSERVER, FrontPage, Heritage, IN PROFILE DAILY, INSIGHT, New DEMOCRAT, PUBLIC AGENDA, The ANALYST, The Independent, THE INFORMER, The INQUIRER, The New Dawn, The New Republic and The NEWS] • The Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ has strongly warned proprietors of three local media houses recently shutdown by government for allegedly broadcasting “hate messages and misinformation” not to repeat such act. • Judge James Zotaa gave the warning Tuesday at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia when he ordered the reopening of POWER FM/TV, LOVE FM/TV and KING’s FM and CLAR TV, respectively following a week-long closure. • The judge instructed the Information Ministry to revoke permits and licenses of the three media institutions in case of a repeat of such act. • The judge ruled against the media outlets following series of conference hearings with them and state prosecutors at the Temple of Justice, but reserved punishment for the sake of free press and information. • Judge Zotaa said he was convinced having thoroughly viewed the state’s evidence, and concluded that the respondents did use their media outlets to disrupt public security, safety, general welfare, among others. It’s Official - Ellen Wins Run-Off [Daily OBSERVER, FrontPage, Heritage, IN PROFILE DAILY, INSIGHT, NATIONAL CHRONICLE, New DEMOCRAT, PUBLIC AGENDA, The ANALYST, THE INFORMER, The INQUIRER, The New Dawn and The NEWS] • The National Elections Commission (NEC) Tuesday declared incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and running mate Joseph Boakai of the governing Unity Party winners of the just concluded November 8 presidential run-off election. • The election was largely boycotted by the leading opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). • NEC through acting Chairman Elizabeth Nelson made the declaration in Monrovia during the pronouncement of final results of the polls. • The Unity Party received 607,618 of the total votes, which translate to 90.7 percent, while the opposition CDC obtained the total votes of 62,207 representing 9.3 percent. According to the NEC, a total of 694,412 votes were cast during the run-off. • International observers from ECOWAS, the AU and Carter Center have declared the polls as peaceful, free, fair and transparent. NDC Opposes Result - Says UP lacks mandate to govern [IN PROFILE DAILY] • "Liberia belongs to all Liberians, those at home and abroad, minorities and majorities alike, settlers and indigenes, all the same. However, unlike the past and having graduated from fifteen years of a bloody civil conflict in the search of democracy, no one group or groups of Liberians should ever be allowed again to govern our country without a popular and legitimate mandate from the vast majority of the sovereign people of Liberia – a mandate determined by genuine democratic elections, void of fraud, reflecting the expressed wishes and aspirations of the vast majority of the people," a statement from the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) issued in Monrovia recently indicated. • The NDC said fraudulent elections have always remained part of the principal causes for pushing conflicts in Liberia and other parts of Africa and stressed "that is why both ECOWAS and other peace building partners of Liberia, including the United Nations and the United States Government in particular, ought to be very sensitive to, cognizant of, and guided by this very important element as a matter of strategic positioning". • Hence, the statement said declaring Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf president under the circumstances amounts to a blatant disregard for the sovereign people of Liberia. • "This the opposition will not accept. Moreover, the international community runs a serious risk to do business with a minority group that is incapable of winning democratic elections, and prefers to grab power undemocratically, despite the huge financial resources and other strategic advantages that were available to it," the party said Reporters without Borders Writes Ellen [The New Dawn] • The international media group, Reporters without Borders has written President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf voicing concern about the fact that the second round of the presidential election a week ago was marred by the suspension of four opposition media and by violence against journalists covering clashes between police and demonstrators. • The group urged the President in its communication Tuesday to demonstrate a commitment to establish conditions that favor freedom of the press and opinion. • Reporters without Borders also want the Sirleaf-government to ensure that those responsible for the violence against the journalists are punished. Weakening multiparty Democracy? - CDC in Disarray as Leadership cooperates with Government [FrontPage] • Conflicting signals appear to be emerging from the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) over their standard bearer’s latest change of mind to recognize and cooperate with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party-led Government. • Reports say Ambassador Winston Tubman’s pledge to cooperate with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sparked uproar among executives of the CDC as if the decision on his part was unilateral. Radio Veritas (news monitored at 9:45 a.m.) Court orders radio stations reopened • Three radio stations down by the Government of Liberia a week ago for allegedly broadcasting ‘hate messages’ during the run-off election, have been ordered re-opened by the court in a ruling handed down Tuesday by Judge James Zotaa of Criminal Court A who said he was pardoning the stations even though they are guilty. • He warned that their licenses could be revoked if they engaged in similar act again. • But the head of one of the stations, Aaron Kollie said the court’s action was a ‘miscarriage of justice’. • He emphasized that the broadcasters have done no wrong and will not heed the judge’s warning. Police advisor dismissed • Reports say President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sacked the Special Advisor to the Liberia National Police Paul Mulbah for failing to perform the task for which he was appointed. • Mr. Mulbah, a former Director of Police is currently the Chief Executive Officer of one of three media institutions shut down by the government. Liberia gets status in tourism organization • Liberia has been admitted into the United Nations World Tourism Organization with Assistant Information Minister for Tourism, Aissa Bright who just returned from a tourism conference saying the move will attract international assistance to Liberia. UNMIL Radio (news monitored at 1:00 p.m.) Election contenders to get certificate • The National Elections Commission has said that a ceremony to certificate the winners of the 2011 legislative and presidential elections will be held next Monday at the commission’s headquarters. • The Acting Chairman of the commission, Elizabeth Nelson made the announcement when she declared President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf winner of the presidential election race, and asked all the contenders to make their campaign expenditure available to the commission. US urge Liberians to accept the November 8 poll results • The Government of the United States has called on political parties and their supporters to accept the result of the presidential election won by incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, even though the second round of the election was boycotted by the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change. • Meanwhile US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has congratulated President Sirleaf for her victory. International clip on Liberia Liberian Court Orders Reopening Of Closed Media Outlets A Liberian judge Tuesday ordered the re-opening of four radio and three television stations sympathetic to the opposition which the government shut down one day before runoff elections. The government accused the stations of broadcasting hate messages and spreading misinformation aimed at causing insurrection and disorder. Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua, who was in the courtroom, says the judge, James W. Zota, did not make evidence available to the lawyers representing the media institutions. Quaqua says he views the action against the stations, and the subsequent court proceedings, as an attempt to frighten the media away from reporting critical issues in Liberia. “The judge ruled that the petitions filed by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Ministry were corroborated by the evidence the Ministry of Justice provided to the judge. Dramatically, that evidence was never produced in court,” he said. International clips on West Africa Ivory Coast Paris Club cuts Ivory Coast's debt burden The Paris Club of creditor nations said members agreed on Tuesday to reduce the Ivory Coast's foreign debt burden and said reforms underway should lead to further relief. The West African nation's creditors in the Paris Club agreed to reschedule the repayment of some of the country's debts over a 10-year period. Repayments of arrears on those payments were rescheduled over eight years. The informal grouping of creditor governments said in a statement that the measures would reduce the country's debt service payments and arrears due by the end of June 2014 by $1.8 billion. Of that amount, $397 million would be canceled. Ivory Coast is rapidly recovering after last year's disputed election reignited a civil war that killed some 3,000 people and displaced more than 1 million. "Participating creditors noted that following the crisis that the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire has gone through, the Government has quickly revived economic activity and resumed negotiations with the Paris Club," the statement said. Traditional chiefs take on Ivory Coast's post-war ills Could crowns, scepters and ritual sacrifices save Ivory Coast? Some of its traditional chiefs are seeking to help in the reconciliation of the long-divided country, but not everybody agrees. Sporting an enormous crown and a multicolored robe, Awoula Amon Tanoe, king of the small Ivorian tribe called the N'Zima Kotoko, is a man who parts the crowds, carried by strong porters to the sound of a sacred tam-tam. "His Majesty" presided this month over the annual Abissa festival of the N'Zima people, which drew thousands of visitors to Bassam, the former colonial capital which is close to Abidjan and renowned for its beaches. The theme for 2011 was "reconciliation". A career diplomat in his 70s, Aman Tanoe was named vice president of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) set up by President Alassane Ouattara at the end of September, after years of conflict in the West African nation. ****

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ICC, Not just Francophone Ivory Coast, come to Anglophone Liberia too!

By Bernard Gbayee Goah President, Operation We Care for Liberia While crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by a handful of individuals go unquestioned in Liberia popularly known as “Little America” amongst its West African neighbors, the International Criminal Court judges have given the ICC's prosecutor the go-ahead to open an investigation into post-election violence in neighboring “French Ivory Coast”. However, if the ICC should come to Liberia as a result of some kind of intervention only to concern itself with investigating post-election violence after the 2011 elections, justice would not be considered served to Liberia’s 15 years’ war victims. Few questions that must be answered are: 1.What if Post elections violence does not occur in Liberia during these elections period, will Liberia’s current war victim receive justice at all?? 2. Will the ICC have interest in investigating crimes committed in Liberia from 1979 - 2003? The above are questions that must be addressed and not just the investigation of post elections violence. The fact is there are war crime suspects in Liberia right now walking freely while victims of war pray for justice that may not come at all if nothing is done. Unlike Ivory Coast where evidence of war crimes are still under investigation, in Liberia, evidence shows Ms. Sirleaf played a central role in the planning, financing and directing of a war so brutal, so violent and so devastating that experts have labeled it one of the worst in modern History. Ordering the NPFL forces to attack the then overcrowded City of Monrovia shows the extent to which Ms. Sirleaf was willing to go in order to become president. The NPFL carried out her orders and thousands of innocent people were killed. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her accomplices must account for their role in the 15-year carnage in Liberia that claimed more than 250,000 lives, raped countless mothers, children, and wrecked the county’s entire infrastructure. This is the right thing to do, even if it means carrying out citizens’ arrest. After all, democracy is not an event to be observed only during the period of election or on Election Day; rather it’s a way of life. Even though her testimony at Liberia’s Truth Commission hearing proved otherwise, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has claimed consistently during these elections period that she had no role in the war that maimed and killed innocent people and destroyed the country’s entire infrastructure. She must be presented an opportunity to exonerate herself in a war crime court. If Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is responsible, as the evidence indicates, regardless whether such crimes were committed in Liberia or in elsewhere pre or post 2003, it would be a travesty of justice to have indicted former president Charles Taylor and removed him from office; but yet allow Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to remain head of state even though she also financially supported as well as ordered a rebel group (NPFL) to committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the people of Liberia and the rest of the world allow rape, torture and murder to go unpunished, soon there will be nothing left to protect. This is why it is important for the International Community to break the cycle of ignorance and untimely death by holding accountable those bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity whether in Liberia or elsewhere on this planet. And yet … surely, the United States of America and the United Nations could both help by standing with war victims in Liberia but … behold the US Ambassador to Liberia befriends Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf while UN peace keepers currently control the security of the country in which a war crime suspect (Madam Johnson-Sirleaf) runs the affairs of Liberia’s war victims. The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Lastly, with the help of France and the Ivorian people, the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have given the ICC's prosecutor the go-ahead to open an investigation into post-election violence in the French Ivory Coast. Let the ICC also come to the aid of war victims in Liberia. After all, Anglophone (Liberia) needs protection too. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results.