But LIS Commissioner General Budy was quick to point out that what remains unclear is the fact that he(Costa) had a legal passport, but chose to use a travel certificate to come to his mother land, Liberia, this he added, needs to be investigated to the core, especially those who helped him in procuring the papers.
The LIS boss said the motive of the investigation is not personal neither political as being perceived in the public rather it is meant to unearth the “hiding truth” and bring forth the facts behind what he described as a “criminal syndicate”.
Budy admitted that the travel certificate brought in by Costa on December 19, 2019 was genuine, but the stamp, signature and cartography/ writings indicated there in were all forged.
Budy was speaking on Monday, January 20, 2020 in Monrovia when he addressed the media at which time the LIS released preliminary report relative to the alleged theft, forgery, criminal facilitation, including documentation saga of the head of the CoP.
The LIS preliminary report revealed that three officers of the LISdiverged sensitive information very useful to the investigation, something that runs contrary to their security scope as well as their standard operation procedure, and therefore, officer Fred Weah, Chief of Security was dismissed after the completion of the investigation due to his close link and gravity to the leaked information, while Patrick Dolo, Director of Security was suspended for one month and the last officer name withheld is still being investigated as his punishment is pending.
The Immigration Chief vowed that they will leave no stone unturned until they reach to a professionally logical conclusion to ensure that justice is served.
He disclosed that there is a manhunt for one of the persons of interest, one Momolu, who according to the investigation, procured the travel certificate for Mr. Costa and he (Momolu) is currently in the country. Moreover, the wife of Bishop Willy Belly is also linked to the episode.
The LIS boss further disclosed that she will be called to provide information relative to her link to the saga.
Though the report has been forwarded to the Liberia National Police(LNP) for continuation, the LIS boss wants the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which appears to be at the center of the matter, to remain open and cooperative to the investigation up to its final conclusion.
Meanwhile, Costa, who is the main actor involved with the alleged fraudulentacquisition of the Liberia travel document, absconded immigration investigation and fled to neighboring Sierra Leone recently, claiming that his life was threatened by the Government of Liberia(GoL).
Costa was due to appear at the Headquarters of the LIS onWednesday,January 15, 2020 along with his lawyer, Cllr. Finley Karnga, but did not honor the appointment as he had already fled the country.
Costa was detained at the Lungi Airport in neighboring Sierra Leone following a communication from Liberia’s security authorities that he was a wanted man back home.
But he was later cleared to leave after claiming that his life was in danger in Liberia.
Costa has s vowed to return to the country in May, despite allegation that the GoL wants him dead.
Costa told the BBC Friday, January 17, 2020 that he would be returning to his country later in May.
“I will return to my country in May of this year. Let them arrest me at the airport, charge me with whatever crimes, let them prosecute me. I will return,” said the CoP leader.
“It is unfortunate and it is politically motivated and it is a cheap farce. I returned to Liberia on the 19th of December, presented to the immigration at the airport this particular document which they accepted, the validated, they stamped it and they allowed me entry into my country,” Costa, a fierce critic of President George MannehWeah and his government asserted.
“The allegation of me faking a travel document is not true. It is because of the peaceful protest we had which embarrassed the government and the president about the scale of corruption and bad governance happening in our country with which we are very dissatisfied. Their reaction is based on that, nothing else,” he continued.
On the heel of the government’s allegation against him, Costa uttered: “Instead of the government accusing me of forgery, I am the one saying that the document they presented to me three weeks later, when I was about to leave the country to return to the US was not the same one that I presented to them three weeks earlier when I entered the country.
At the same time, the Executive Mansion has since dismissed allegations by Costa and insinuations in the public space that the GoL had threatened his life.
The Executive Mansion, in a press release, said the GoL headed by Dr. George MannehWeah respects the sanctity of human life and the fundamental rights of people and would always do everything to protect all citizens and foreigners within its borders without discrimination.
“Over the last 24 months, the Government has always demonstrated extreme tolerance by providing security for dissenting and agitating citizens and will continue to do so within the confines of the laws in the coming years. While the Government of Liberia has no means to regulate public opinions, particularly those placed on social media pages, it would like to encourage citizens to desist from making inflammatory statements that have the potential to undermine the security of the state and endanger the lives of the people,” the press release added.