MONROVIA – Investigation into how the Chairman of the Council of Patriots, Henry P. Costa, obtained a ‘forged’ laisser-passez seems to be a dragnet that is leading to the rolling of some heads.
At least three offices of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) were investigated in connection to the saga.
According to the LIS Commissioner General, Col. Robert W. Budy Sr., one has been dismissed and another suspended for posting classified information pertaining to the investigation of Costa to Facebook.
“Given the criminal nature of this issue, the matter through the Ministry of Justice has been turned over the Liberia National Police and officers of the Liberia Immigration Service who were involved with divulging/disclosing confidential/sensitive information through social media have been investigated by our Professional Standard Division (PSD); administrative action will be taken against them in line with the investigative report,” Col. Budy explained.
Col. Budy made the disclosure during a press conference at the headquarters of the LIS on Monday.
Those under probe include Fred Weah who was dismissed from his post as chief of security, Director of Security, Patrick Dolo was suspended for a month and third officer named was withheld as there wasn’t sufficient evidence to hold him liable.
Col. Budy said, despite allegedly being in possession of a forged travel document, Mr. Costa was allowed entry into Liberia on December 19 because he is a Liberian citizen.
“Costa is a Liberian citizen, if Costa was not even going to enter the country with a travel certificate and said my travel certificate or my passport got missing on board the aircraft, Costa will still be allowed to enter Liberia because he is a Liberian citizen,” he explained.
According to the LIS boss, the travel certificate was issued to Costa when he was out of the country and the LIS was not able to analyze the document because they are not the authority responsible for issuance.
“The issuance authority of a travel document is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so we needed to do some background investigation and that’s how we allowed Henry P. Costa to enter the country and then subsequently proceeded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish the falsity of that instrument of which we did,” Budy said.
Col. Budy disclosed that the investigation into how Costa obtained the travel document is leading to the investigation of several persons who may have been connected to it.
He confirmed FrontPageAfrica’s report that Mr. Monie Hooke Momolu, a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, is the man who is said to have obtained the emergency traveling document for Costa.
When Costa first appeared at the LIS the following day after he was denied leaving the country, he had written a statement in which he told the officers that since he was not in Liberia to apply for the traveling document himself, he sent US$20 to Mr. Sylvester Tevez Nah, an employee of his. He said it was him (Tevez), who had obtained the document and sent it to him (Costa) so he couldn’t have known if it was forged. He also argued that he had been in the country more than three weeks why didn’t the LIS accost him. He even counter-argued that the document the LIS boss had shown to him when appeared at the LIS headquarters wasn’t the same one that he had presented to them when he arrived on December 19, 2019.
More fuel was added to the drama when on early Wednesday, January 15, it was reported that Costa had been arrested on Tuesday in neighboring Sierra Leone by that country’s government and would be repatriated and handed over to the Liberian authority on Wednesday afternoon.
Costa was obviously allowed to continue his journey to the US but one of his accomplices, Sylvester Tevez Nah, who and Costa allegedly fled the country and entered Sierra Leone “illegally,” reportedly phoned the LIS boss, Col. Robert Budy, that he was coming back to turn himself in “voluntarily”.
A source close to the LIS and Tevez, who is now the GOL’s prime suspect in the laissez-passer investigation, told this newspaper that when Costa was held by the Sierra Leonean authority, he (Tevez) got confused and in that state of mind, phoned the LIS boss that he was coming back to Liberia to turn himself in.
“True to his words, Tevez willingly came back and was received at the Liberia-Sierra Leone Bo Waterside border by the LIS [Grand] Cape Mount [County] Commander, who brought him straight to Monrovia and handed him over to the LIS Commissioner,” our source, who asked not to be named, said.
This source further stated that on the evening that Tevez and his wife arrived back, Col. Budy bought them a new mattress and didn’t allow them to be placed inside the cell but were allowed to pass the night in the conference room of the BIN and on the next day, Col. Budy treated them nicely again by providing food and other amenities before beginning the investigation.
According to our source, Tevez, who is less than a month old in his marriage, had told them the role he allegedly played in the process leading to Costa obtaining the laissez-passer now at the center of controversy.
“He told the LIS investigation team that what Costa had said about him in his (Costa) statement was false. According to him, when the work was done, Costa sent him to one Foreign Ministry employee by the name of Monie Hooke Momolu, who handed the document to him in an enclosed brown envelope, up Broad Street around the United Bank for Africa’s premises. He said he recognized the picture on the document was the identical passport-sized photo he had presented to the same fellow (Momolu) some time ago on the Capitol Hill campus of the University of Liberia,” our source said.
This source further stated that Tevez told the investigation that he had handed the document over to one lady (name not given) whom Costa had told him to deliver it to and that was his role played in the whole process.
“He said he just dropped it with this lady and never asked her for name or information as she was on her way to the States the next day.”
This source said the document, which is short-lived, might have been done sometime in November 2019 but was post-dated to fit in time with Costa’s arrival in December 2019.
Our source said Tevez could walk out a free man soon as he is cooperating well with the LIS investigating team. He couldn’t be reached for comment as calls to his phone kept bouncing back.
Meanwhile, on Friday, January 17, he tendered in his resignation as Manager of the Sancos Media Group and Operations Manager of Roots Holdings, Inc, a business entity owned and operated by Henry Costa.