Liberia: Transport Minister Calls on Police IG to Investigative Corruption Allegations against RFIR’s Daniel Johnson

MONROVIA – During his confirmation hearing early last week, the then Transport Minister-designate, Sirleaf Tyler, faced questioning from Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph regarding allegations in the media against Daniel Johnson, who had recently been appointed as the Secretary General of the Roberts Flight Information Region (RFIR).

By Lennart Dodoo, ldodoo@frontpageafricaonline.com

Senator Joseph sought clarification on whether the Transport Minister was considering initiating an investigation against Johnson, who was said to have been evading the American justice system.

Johnson is one of three individuals allegedly involved in defrauding the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of approximately $1.9 million intended to assist impoverished people and towns in Liberia.

In April 2011, two former humanitarian aid workers were each sentenced to 142 months in prison for their involvement in the crime.

Efforts to prosecute Johnson did not materialize after Judge Boima Kontoe denied a request by the United States government to extradite him to the US for trial.

Liberian prosecutors argued that the crime of Theft of Property allegedly committed by Johnson was not political and thus he should be extradited to the U.S. to face charges. They further argued the existence of a 1937 treaty between Liberia and the USA. Prosecutors contended that the Liberian government had fulfilled all requirements for Johnson’s extradition. However, Johnson’s lawyers argued that he could not be tried under a foreign jurisdiction as the alleged crime took place in Liberia.

Johnson was indicted on September 19, 2007, by a grand jury of a US District Court in Columbus for allegedly diverting US$240,000 of the IRC’s money into his personal account. According to U.S. court records, Johnson served as Project Accountant for the IRC in Monrovia from June 2004 to July 2007, during which time the alleged act occurred.

The U.S. had previously succeeded in extraditing Liberians to the U.S. for crimes committed there.

Located at Roberts Field in Margibi County, the RFIR was established on January 17, 1975, when Guinea Conakry, Liberia, and Sierra Leone established an aeronautical cooperative venture to provide air navigation services for en-route flights (above 3,000 feet AGL) in their combined airspace. Member states continued to manage the lower airspace within their territorial boundaries from ground to 3000 ft.

Article 3(4) of the RFIR law stipulates a tenure of four years for the Secretary General for administration, a position occupied by Liberia, for which Lasana B. Sannor was reappointed by former President Weah. However, Sannor has faced verbal attacks and insults following the nomination of Mr. Johnson to the position.

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