The Liberia National Police has investigated, charged and subsequently sent to court suspects, Andrew D. Wonplo, Director of Passport at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a Nigerian national identified as Adedoyin Emmaunel Atiroko for their alleged involvement into passport scandal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During preliminary investigation conducted with suspect Wonplo, it was established that during the month of July 2019, before his arrest in August 2019, he was entrusted with Four Thousand Two Hundred, Fifty (4,250) pieces of blank Liberian passports as the head responsible for the issuance of said national instruments. Out of these blank passports, Four Thousand, One Hundred, Eighty (4,180) pieces were recorded used while Seventy pieces were recorded damaged. It was also established that out of the Seventy (70) pieces reported damaged, Sixty six (66) pieces could be traced while four (4) pieces could not be accounted for.
The investigation also confirmed that suspect Atiroko has been conniving with the passport Director, suspect Wonplo in issuing Liberian passports under the canopy of a dubious company named, “Heaven Company Limited and Travel Consultants,” purposely established to issue Liberian passports to foreign nationals for an astronomical fee of One Thousand United States dollars or above, thereby denying Liberians their entitled passports and depriving the Liberian government of thousands of United States dollars.
The investigation revealed that the act carried out by suspect Atiroko has caused the Liberian government revenue loss of over One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$100,000), especially where receipts were recovered from the suspect that clearly showed passports being bought by foreign nationals.
The investigation further revealed that several pieces of passports belonging to private citizens, a fake birth certificate and other essential documents were confiscated from suspect Wonplo’s home, based upon such search and seizure sanctioned by the court.
Predicated upon pieces of evidence adduced, coupled with witnesses’ testimonies, the suspects who were arrested on August 11, 2019, have been duly charged with the crimes of Economic Sabotage, Misapplication of Entrusted Property and Tampering with Public Records, which are in violation of Chapter 12 and 15 section 12.34, 15.56 and 15.80 of the revised penal code of Liberia and forwarded to court for prosecution.
By Shadrach D. Brown, Liberia