Surmounting all odds in pursuit of public accountability and transparency, thousands of patriotic Liberians defied the heavy downpour of rain on September 24, 2018, to send a clarion message to the International Community and the government of ex-soccer Star George M. Weah. The bottom line was “Bring Back Our L$16 billion and US$25 million”. We did submit a 7-count Petition. The Bring Back Our Money Campaign achieved the following milestones after such Petition was delivered:
Peaceful Protest (No incident of violence)
Massive turnout even under the heavy downpour of rain. Furthermore, no law was broken, and at the US Embassy, UN, AU, EU, and ECOWAS gladly received our petition and described our protest as the most peaceful and massive in post-conflict Liberia Our demand for an independent international firm to conduct a forensic audit was met. Our protest action led to three important reports in Liberia’s history (Kroll Report, PIT Report, and GAC Special Report)
Though selective a number of arrests of past and current government officials linked to this scandal were made. Prosecution is ongoing. The regimes of both EJS and GMW were indicted by Kroll and PIT Reports. Full accountability and justice are still being sought/pursued.
The protest action led to increased international and local alert and awareness on money laundering, terrorist financing, illicit cash flow, and counterfeiting. Our protest action compelled some public officials to declare their assets and conform to the 2014 Code of Conduct Law. President Weah immediately mandated all officials to declare their assets. The protest exposed the weakness and indiscipline within the financial system of Liberia (CBL and MFDP). We raised the red flag against horrific State plunder and mass looting under President Weah. The acquisition of massive private properties by Weah and his cronies in less than 6 months was an eye-opener for Liberians and non-Liberians including international partners at home and abroad.
We led our people and they made history. The courage for our people to stand up remains an enviable epitome of our collective struggle and existence. We want to appreciate all of them for this historic feat especially front liners and strategists.
This victory belongs to OUR PEOPLE (The Masses). They have inspired us to soldier on. We can do it can and will do it again if those objective conditions become so provoking. We, THE PEOPLE (Article 1). The People’s Power is greater than those in Power.
A brief reflection of our 7-count Petition to US Embassy, UN, AU, EU, and ECOWAS:
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.
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.
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 his cronies in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such an investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion and US$25 million.
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.
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. As members of the Weah’s administration have been accused of amassing properties using state funds, we demand that they include in their asset declaration the date of acquisition of those assets.
We submit to you with urgency the need 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.
We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MFDP, CBL, MICAT, and RIA) that had/have a direct link to these missing containers immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.
Down with CORRUPTION. Up with ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY. Liberia will rise one day. Long Live COCUBOMB. The struggle for social democracy and economic justice continues.
Martin K. N. Kollie is a youth and student activist. Martin along with other young patriots led The Bring Back Our Money Protest on September 24, 2018. He is the Chairman of COCUBOMB.
Main photo: protestors in the street of Monrovia