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Monrovia - Assertions made by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during Monday’s State of The Nation Address before the Legislature in which she blamed Ellen Corkrum former head of the Roberts International Airport for the slow pace of the rework to the airport’s infrastructure, has been met with an angry response.


The President alleges that the pair- Corkrum and her fiancé Melvin Johnson, who is a former United States Judge, were on a smear campaign to damage the reputation of individuals in government instead of focusing on the task given.

“A major setback in efforts for the development of the airport resulted from an unscrupulous and conspiring newly-recruited Managing Director, who returned kindness and deference with entrapment and intriguing accusations to damage the credibility of several individuals and the image of the country,” President Sirleaf told the nation on Monday.

But the President’s comments have not been taken kindly by the pair who in a harsher response said that many are tired of empty promises that have been made by the Sirleaf-led administration in the past eight years.

“We are tired of speeches with no action,” said the pair.

Minister Samukai's Exposure of Corruption

The pair termed their indictment by the Liberian government as bogus and accused the GoL of only charging them with allegedly taking US$259,000 and asserts that it has been over a year since they left Liberia; hence the amount in question allegedly taken from a Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00) plus budget over a year ago cannot be a major setback to the airport's development.

“The actual major setback to the airport and Liberia's (as a whole) development is the corruption inflicted upon our people (as Charles Taylor did) by President Johnson Sirleaf and her regime,” said Corkrum and Johnson in a joint statement.

“The Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai, stated that there were several high ranking government officials, namely Finance Minister Amara Konneh, Minister of State For Presidential Affairs Edward McClain, Deputy Minister For State Gyude Moore, Board Chairman Musa Bility, who told Minister Samukai that they plotted to get rid of and sign the death warrant of Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson because these government officials wanted unfettered access to $130 Million.”

Police Director’s Recording

The pair asserted that in the series recordings they released, Police Director Chris Massaquoi, and the airport security boss, one Mr. Subah (whose first name the pair didn’t mention) is heard describing the vandalism and other illegal activities at the airport carried out by government officials.

“Although Police Director Chris Massaquoi was ordered to illegally capture Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson, he refused to, in part based on the unlawful activities of the government and the fact that no explanation of any illegal activities on the part of Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson were explained to him,” he said.

The pair alleged in their statement that vandalism, theft, and other illegal activities at the airport, something they said is sanctioned the President without any investigation or explanations are the real major setbacks to development.

“The behavior as described by these security officials qualify as unscrupulous and damaging to Liberia's credibility, “the pair said.

The President on Monday said that efforts were underway to bring the pair to trial either at home or abroad.

“This matter is under review by counsel in the United States for legal redress, including extradition,” said President Sirleaf.

She said the government is currently negotiating financing with the European Investment Bank, the Saudi Fund for Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to begin the first phase of rehabilitation of the airport this year.

The President noted that the airport is taking far more than what it used to take postwar and there was a need for expansion.

“Far from the early days when only one or two airlines flew into Roberts International Airport (RIA), the Airport is now servicing 11 regular international airlines,” she said.

Passenger numbers have increased on an average of 25,000 a year. With numerous airlines providing services to regional capitals and destinations in Asia, North “America and Africa, ticket prices have become so competitive that it is possible to fly round-trip to Accra for less than US$300 – more than a 100 percent decrease in airfare from as little as four years ago.”

The war of wars between the President and the pair continues as many wait to see if efforts to prosecute them will materialize.


 

FULL TEXT OF RESPONSE

 

Introduction

The Liberian people have now heard nine (9) such State of the Nation speeches with no effect. We are tired of speeches with no action. The President in her first of such speech said that the fighting of corruption would be her number one (1) objective. The evidence now reveals otherwise. As in the Charles Taylor's regime, Liberia is ranked number one (1) worldwide for corruption after eight (8) years of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leadership. Some even argue that the effects of corruption upon Liberia under President Johnson Sirleaf is worse than it was under President Charles Taylor.

Specifics to Her Speech (Blaming Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson)

Major Setback to the airport development; Unscrupulous and Conspiring; Damage of Credibility
 
Minister Brownie Samukai's Exposure of Corruption - The BOGUS Indictment only charges Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson with allegedly taking $259k. It has been over a year since Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson left Liberia; hence $259k allegedly from a Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00) plus budget over a year ago cannot be a major setback to the airport's development. The actual major setback to the airport and Liberia's (as a whole) development is the corruption inflicted upon our people (as Charles Taylor did) by President Johnson Sirleaf and her regime. The Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai, stated that there were several high ranking government officials, namely Finance Minister Amara Konneh, Minister of State For Presidential Affairs Edward McClain, Deputy Minister For State Gyude Moore, Board Chairman Musa Bility, who told Minister Samukai that they plotted to get rid of and sign the death warrant of Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson because these government officials wanted unfettered access to $130 Million. Minister Samukai explained that the officials told him "they can put their heads on a chopping board" that neither Ellen Corkrum nor Judge Johnson took any money. To date, there has been no explanation or investigation into these crimes from the President. Such sanctioned behavior should be termed as a major setback, unscrupulous and damaging to the credibility of our nation.

Police Director Chris Massaquoi's Recording - In the surfaced recordings of Police Director Chris Massaquoi, the airport security boss, Mr. Subah is heard describing the vandalism and other illegal activities at the airport by government officials. Although Police Director Chris Massaquoi was ordered to illegally capture Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson, he refused to, in part based on the unlawful activities of the government and the fact that no explanation of any illegal activities on the part of Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson were explained to him. Again, vandalism, theft, and other illegal activities at the airport sanctioned by President Johnson Sirleaf without any investigation or explanation are the real major setbacks to development. The behavior as described by these security officials qualify as unscrupulous and damaging to Liberia's credibility.

NACO Recordings Revelations - The NACO recordings clearly shows that there are millions of dollars unaccounted for and untraceably leaving the airport coffers. When approached on the matter, both the President and Ministry of State For Presidential Affairs pretended to be unaware but falsely promise an investigation. To date, no investigation or explanation provided. This is a major setback to the airport development. This is yet another example of unscrupulous and credibility damaging promises made by President Johnson Sirleaf.

Marc Amblard's Payment - The Marc Amblard's revelations showed that the former Police Director who was fired for failure to provide security was paid at least $150,000.00 to "provide security at the airport." Minister Eugene Nagbe, Minister McClain and Minister Konneh with the President's approval all conspired and paid this money corruptly. Marc Amblard presented NO proposed Contract, Statement Of Work, never appeared at the airport, the airport Board was completely unaware, no bidding was conducted in violation of PPCC laws, etc., and yet he was paid. This is a major setback to the airport development. Such conspiracies to steal from our people damages the credibility of a country.

Unaccounted For $10 Million Dollars Plus Budget - During the entire year since the departure of Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson, there has been an allotted $10 Million plus budget. Recently both the Finance Minister Amara Konneh and the airport's boss Richelieu Williams have been quoted in all of the media as pointed fingers at each other regarding the whereabouts of the monies. Minister Konneh claims that he gave the monies to Mr. Williams and of course Mr. Williams says that he never received any such monies to develop the airport. Such continuing corruption saga (like Charles Taylor's) is clearly the major setup to the airport's development, not Ellen Corkrum and Judge Johnson.

Conclusion

Liberians are tired of empty speeches and promises by President Johnson Sirleaf. As with the Charles Taylor's regime, Liberia is ranked number one (1) worldwide for corruption. This is unacceptable. Liberia ranks highest in the region for Infant Mortality, Illiteracy, Unemployment, Underemployment, Malnutrition, Diseases, Poor Schools, Poor Roads, Poor Hospitals, Lack Of Electricity, Lack Of Water, Total Lack of all infrastructure. The rampant corruption as exemplified by this President and her government is the major setback to development not just at the airport, but the nation as a whole. The President and her government officials caught on tapes shows that they are unscrupulous and conspirators in corruption

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