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Sirleaf’s Liberia: The eye of the storm in drug trade, money laundering

NEW YORK––Law enforcement analysts and officials in several Western countries are becoming concerned about the illicit and organized regional drug trade, money laundering and systemic corruption in Liberia.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Since President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assumed office in Liberia in 2006, Liberia, once a largely drug free zone and a nation which had been radically known as a US ally in fighting money laundering, has become the epic center of these criminal activities, with government officials and prominent members of the President’s inner circle and relatives fully involved.

Since 2007, the estimated percentages of drug been trafficked via Liberia per drug are as follows:

  • Powdered cocaine: 98.1 percent.
  • Marijuana: 97.5 percent.
  • Crack cocaine: 96.1 percent.
  • Heroin: 98.8 percent.
  • Other drugs: 94.6 percent.

The alarming dynamic here is that the illicit drug trade is not conducted by Liberian civilians who are largely unemployed. Rather, it is spearheaded by some officials of the Liberian government, especially those employed and directly assigned to President Sirleaf as has been reported by several watchdog groups and media entities including the acclaimed Huffington Post, a US-based global media entity.

In addition, several local and African own banks have emerged in Liberia, many of them with no credible international affiliations.  These banks are used by some officials of the Liberian government as well as cronies, friends, and others with ties to President Sirleaf and her most influential elected and appointed officials to smuggle stolen wealth outside of the country, using bogus and practically non-existing businesses.


See Video below regarding an organized drug smuggling scheme in Liberia involved the President’s inner circle and her vehicles.  Several other West African nations have bought Liberian passports and citizenship from the Sirleaf’s administration to assist conduct drug trade and money laundering in the country.  President Sirleaf has personally decorated some of dubious money launderers and crooks in the country.  These include Tony Praise Lawal, a Nigerian with ties to the President’s family who has milked Liberia of more than $18 million in fake construction contracts awarded to his non-existing company.  The president has to keep mute on the fraud carried out by foreign criminal agents, but instead pursue poor and vulnerable Liberian police officers and civil servants accused of graft.  Some five years ago, she sacked then-police director/inspector general Munah Sieh on a mere and unproven allegation of corruption involving less than $1,000 the United States.  But she failed to pursue over $300 million dollars fraud case at NOCAL, once headed by Robert A. Sirleaf, her son.


This year, a loan program known as the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) was corrupted when the administrators of the “job creation and small business establishment effort” at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning gave the loans to rogue individuals, politically-connected cronies, family members and people recommended by the Liberian presidency who offered the names of fake companies that did not exist in order to get the loan legally.  Those loans are yet to be recovered, leaving the Liberian people on a hook.

Drugs and Money Laundering under President Sirleaf’s Watchful Eyes.

In the past 12 years, Globe Afrique’s research has found from credible international monitoring systems that more than $5 billion United States dollars have either left or transited through Liberia via capital flight, drug trade, and money laundering activities under the watchful eyes of Africa’s first democratically elected head of state and the world’s most decorated president in human history.

The drug trade and money laundry occasioned by Madam Sirleaf’s presidency is dangerous for the West African sub-region with serious international implications in view of the critical threat of global terrorism and terror groups which are struggling for cash.

Ongoing research by Globe Afrique is unveiling damaging details which are yet to be confirmed.  So far, the research points to the possibility of terror groups seeking to use strange agents to penetrate Liberia’s vulnerability for illicit drug trade and money laundering just as al Qaeda used former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor’s rebel group and administration to facilitate the infamous blood diamond trade in neighboring Sierra Leone between 1991 to 1997.

Jones Nhinson Williams, a Liberian professional with expertise in job creation, workforce development, and strategic governance, said “Madam Sirleaf has failed Liberia and the Liberian people.  Her legacy is self-serving and undeserving to Liberia.  It should not and cannot be preserved.”

Williams, who once studied for the Catholic priesthood, said: “greed and misjudgment with focus on self and an insatiable family” dolled the perception of the Liberian president.  “She could have been a wonderful president, but her mindset that she cannot change her leadership compass by considering the views of others has ruined her legacy.  She has no legacy other than the many bad things she has done to her native country and people,” he added.

Williams said poverty in Liberia under President Sirleaf has become transgenerational.  He blamed some greedy and heartless Americans who continue to promote a failed leader to a Western audience at the expense of 4.5 million Liberians.  He added, “Our people are on a knife-edge in poverty.  Dozens of Liberians are caught up in conditions of hardship and struggles via illegal migration to Europe and other places.  Dozens more are in fear of deportation from the United States when we have more than enough to survive as a nation.”

Instead of focusing our resources on developing the potential in human capital, trade, and investment in the private sector as well as helping Liberians engage in small business establishments, we have a president who is paying rogue promotional agents in Western nations just to elevate her ego, Williams said.

He said, “It is also sad and mean-spirited that some former US officials will continue to aid the callousness and corruption being exhibited by the Sirleaf’s administration.  If these so-called former US officials truly love Liberia they would speak on behalf of the Liberian people rather than promoting a failed leader.”

He said it is hypocritical that Western nations are asking African migrants to return to Africa and yet they sit by and allow some of their citizens to exploit Africa by encouraging African leaders like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to spend millions of dollars on unrealistic and baseless public relations campaigns aimed at giving self-praises, and also allowing some to conduct corrupt and exploitative business practices on the continent in collaboration with the continent’s terrible leaders.

Williams said Liberians are a nice and hardworking people.  The problem of the country, he said, started just because a few selfish individuals wanted power for themselves and they have plunged the country into a deep mess. Adding, “We will pray for President Sirleaf as she leaves office because that is the DNA of Liberians, but we will also speak truth to her even though she has missed a huge opportunity in 12 years.”

He urged the Liberian leader to desist, with immediate effect, from engaging in activities that would create political tension, social instability and economic hardship in the country, and allow for a smooth transition of power.

Williams is urging African leaders to focus on and prioritize free market, private sector development, agricultural-food production and expansion activities, workforce development and training, governance transparency and accountability, as well as investment in roads, healthcare and education.  He said Liberia will do very well if it can reduce the size of government, the over-burden salaries of elected and appointed officials as instituted by the failed Sirleaf’s administration, and also focus on national reconciliation within the framework of justice, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence.

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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.
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