The ongoing passport saga, involving an alleged Nigerian drug dealer being made honorary consul general to the United Mexican States and issued a Liberian diplomatic passport, has taken an interesting turn. Latest revelations from radio talk show host Henry Costa disclosed that long before Akin Akintunde Ojo allegedly bought his way into Liberia’s diplomatic circle, the government of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had denied him from obtaining similar request; and that Akintunde Ojo had even tried obtaining a visa to travel to the United States of America by having former Chief of Protocol Elijah Seah writing the US Embassy near Monrovia a referral letter recommending Mr. Ojo to be issued an ordinary visa. Denied that opportunity, Mr. Ojo is said to have left Liberia for Nigeria, but returned when Mr. George Weah became president.
But reacting subsequently to Mr. Costa’s allegation, former Chief of Protocol Elijah Seah completely denied ever meeting Akin Akintunde Ojo or even writing a referral letter on his behalf to facilitate his planned travel to the United States.
“For the record, I think Henry slipped on this one. I never met the man in question in my whole life, least to talk about the period I served as Chief of Protocol, RL. I contacted Costa last Saturday evening for us to talk about his podcast and its content as it relates to my implication. I am waiting to hear from him before I go public. But let me tell you in no unequivocal terms that Costa lied about my involvement. Let him publish the referral note that he says I wrote to the US Embassy near Monrovia,” a visibly angry Elijah Sieh had responded to our query.
However, quite contrary to what Mr. Seah had earlier informed The Analyst, a letter displayed Tuesday evening on social media by Henry Costa proves that indeed, Mr. Seah wrote the US Embassy near Monrovia on December 20, 2013, recommending Mr. Ojo for a US visa.
In that letter referenced: RL/MFA/EFS/COP/1897/’13, Mr. Seah presented his compliments to the Consular of the US Embassy near Monrovia and wished to refer for visa consideration, Mr. Akin Akintunde Ojo, a Nigerian national, who had accordingly been vetted by the Government of Liberia and was being considered for the position of Honorary Consul of the Republic of Liberia in the city of Abeokuta, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, Mr. Akin Akintunde Ojo is a Senior Managing Partner of Asian Projects De Mexico, an international general contracting firm, and will be traveling to the United States of America on 27th December 2013 on an urgent business trip along with Ambassador Wendell J.E. McIntosh, Ambassador-at-large,” former Chief of Protocol Seah wrote.
Mr. Ojo’s passport details in that letter indicated his name as Akin Akintunde Ojo, with passport number A02420867, issued on 10/05/2010 with expiry date of 10/04/2015.
When contacted immediately following the new revelations from Mr. Costa, Mr. Seah cryptically replied to The Analyst: “I am investigating my staff at the time. Nobody can remember doing this.”
After follow up calls, Mr. Seah later referred the Analyst to two of his former staffs, Mr. Jayah Massaquoi and Madam Evelyn Matthews.
Mr. Massaquoi for his part said he had left the Foreign Ministry when the purported letter was written, and had long since been posted at the Liberia Telecommunications Authority; while Madam Matthews emphatically stated she knows nothing about such a referral letter.
Mr. Seah would later indicate that, even if he had written such a referral letter, it did not mean he solicited money to do so, especially when the individual in question was said to have been travelling with Ambassador Wendell McIntosh. “McIntosh was my colleague diplomat, so it would have been possible that he asked me to do that letter, though I don’t recall sending out such communication,” Mr. Seah informed.
Interesting, the other person mentioned in Mr. Seah’s letter as accompanying Mr. Ojo to the United States, was once indicted by the United Nations Development Programme for diverting into his personal coffer funds meant for ex-combatants’ rehabilitation and training in Lofa County during the DDR process in 2005. Ambassador Wendell McIntosh who was at the time CEO of the African Development Aid (ADA) would later mismanage a US$30 million rice project in Lofa County.
According to Mr. Costa, Akin Akintunde Ojo had allegedly tried to obtain a diplomatic passport during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, but failed on several attempts. Costa who claimed to have interacted with Mr. Ojo in 2014 when the Nigerian was introduced to him through a friend, the alleged drug dealer had been peddling a story around Monrovia that he had millions of United States dollars stashed in the US but could only access the cash once he got on American soil.
“In 2014 a good friend of mine called me and asked to meet a Nigerian guy who wanted to invest in my friend’s project. I went and met him. I have his telephone number. Akin tells my friend that he has millions of dollars to invest in my friend’s project, but my friend needs to introduce Akin to Liberian government officials so that he can get a Liberian diplomatic passport and to also be made Liberian honorary consul general. My friend too, believing that he had met a genuine businessman, began to make introductions. Akin made a formal request to be made honorary consul general, his request was denied. And they found out that Akin was a fraudster. He was involved in drug dealing. One of the people that Akin was introduced to was former deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elias Shoniyin,” Mr. Costa disclosed.
He said former deputy Minister Shoniyin did not just feel comfortable with Akin, as he knew right off the bat that something was not legitimate about Akin. “When Akin made his way up to Minister Augustine Ngafuahn, he got denied. Akin did not stop there. He told us that he had millions of dollars held up in the United States that he could not access until he would come to America. This is what he told my friend,” Costa stated.
According to the Council of Patriots (CoP) Chairman and talk show host who himself recently escaped government’s security dragnet over an alleged laissez passer fraud, when Akin Akintunde Ojo was denied by foreign Minister Ngafuahn to obtain a diplomatic passport, he sought the assistance of the former Chief of Protocol of the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Elijah Sieh.
“Akin got Elijah Sieh to write a letter for him to the US Embassy in Monrovia. After being denied by the Liberian government to be granted honorary consul generalship and a diplomatic passport, he went and got Elijah Sieh to write a letter of recommendation to the United States of America Embassy Visa consulate recommending him for an ordinary visa to travel to the United States. With Elijah Sieh’s letter attached to Akin’s request, Akin was still denied. This was when I knew there was something wrong with Akin,” Costa further disclosed.
He said finally Akin gave up on Liberia, went back to Nigeria and did not return until Mr. George Weah came to power.
“In 2018, Akin decided to return to Liberia. This time, Akin did not ask for anybody to help him get an American visa. Akin came to Liberia in 2018 and went to Alex Jeneka Tyler. Alex Tyler took Akin to Nathaniel McGill. Then they took Akin to Milton Gbehzongar Findley. Akin said he wanted to be named honorary consul general to the United States of Mexico, the capital of crack cocaine. Here was a Nigerian drug dealer requesting our government to be given our diplomatic status to the capital of drugs across the world – Mexico. So they negotiated and settled on $250,000. Akin paid Alex Tyler, Nathaniel McGill and Gbehzonghar Findley $250,0000. They fast-tracked the process. In no time, Akin Akintunde Ojo was made Liberia’s honorary consul general to the United States of Mexico. With that title, consistent with the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Akin is a diplomat, his premises are immune from certain searches,” Costa declared.
Former Foreign Minister Findley has since denied the allegations as false and misleading, while Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe is said to have sanctioned the government’s action of making Mr. Ojo Liberia’s honorary consul general to Mexico. According to a local daily, Minister Nagbe said the Liberian government acted prudently and within the confines of the law as it relates to the appointment of Mr. Akintunde Ojo. Accordingly, Mr. Nagbe is quoted as saying that, in line with best practices, the host governments transit an exequatur through a diplomatic note to the Government of Liberia to allow an Honorary Consul to serve in the receiving country.