By Festus Poquie and Peter N. Toby
The criminal trial of ex National Port Authority Managing Director Matilda Parker has taken a more political dimension with the President’s ‘powerful’ sister appearing in court in support of the indicted public official.
Jennie Bernard (sister) – is generally considered the power behind the President. Whether bad or good influence, there are insider accounts that Mrs. Bernard is credited for being responsible for most of the decisions with respect to appointment and protection of shoddy officials.
“The primary purpose of a government is to protect and empower its citizens but as President of our country, all I have experienced at close range with you is a selfish desire to protect and empower only your family where your son Robert Sirleaf and your sister Jan Barnard are given power our constitution does not assign to instigate appointments, dismissals,” Chris Neon, ex administration insider and Johnson-Sirleaf’s Energy Advisor revealed in an open letter in 2014.
Even Johnson-Sirleaf once confessed in an interview with state radio LBS (“Conversation With The President”) that when she decides to prosecute officials implicated in corruption allegations, the targeted officials would turn to her senior Sister Jennie who then begs for their forgiveness from junior Sister – the President.
In such case the President explained it is difficult to override Mrs. Bernard’s pardon plea or intervention.
The state under President Sirleaf had indicted and trailed some administration officials on corruption related charges. But the one involving Matilda Parker – the ex national port chief now appears delicate with apparent interest from the ruling family.
Parker has been speculated to be an associate of the Sirleaf clan. Her ongoing criminal trial has effectively validated that assumption with fact based on the court attendance which includes presidential allies and the influential sister of the President.
Mrs. Bernard (alias Sis. Jennie) for the first time on Thursday 12 November, appeared in open court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia to witness a trial involving public officials.
She appeared at Criminal Court “C” before the judge arrival and exchanged words with Solicitor General Betty Lamin-Blamo thereafter. The content of the discussion is unknown.
The Solicitor General declined an interview with The New Democrat when contacted on the nature of the conversation and what implication the President’s sister’s appearance could have on the trial. She was preparing for wedding ceremony and not in readiness to response to press inquiry, was the excuse from the senior state prosecutor.
Though full trail has not commenced, the state has suffered defeats in legal technicalities so far. its objection to the defendants bond was rejected and plea for arraignment denied.
Then Criminal Court “C” Judge Peter Gbenewelleh ruled that the criminal appearance bond filed for defendant Matilda Parker and other was valid. That ruling prevented the disgraced officials from being jailed as state lawyers were pressing.
The state contested the validity and sufficiency of the US$1.2million bill bond, which Parker and co-defendant Paela filed with the Court.
On the first day of t Sis. Jennie’s court appearance, Criminal Court “C” Judge Blamo Dixon rejected Parker’s and others arraignment for the reading of the indictment.
However, according to The New Democrat Judicial reporter, Judge Dixon – a former state prosecutor has a reputation wherein the state in most instances does not lose cases under his gavel.
Both Parker and Paelay were indicted by the state during the May 2015 Term of Court for economic sabotage, theft of property and Criminal conspiracy after they were accused of expanding over US$800,000 contract to a company to dredge the port.
The latest indictment from the Montserrado County’s Special Grand Jurors has exposed the regime’s dark heart with specific emphasis on how two senior female public officials abused their power, luring a naïve stationary vendor to conspire against the interest of the state for personal gain.
The Grand Jurors and Montserrado County Attorney Daku Mulbah are convicted in their indictment that Ms Matilda Parker and co defendant Christina Kpaba-Paelay innovated a systematic fraud scheme, which the pair effectively used as a vehicle to steal from the country.
Review of the indictment dossier indicates that the disgraced National Port Authority Managing Director and her comptroller successfully used fraud scheme template being used by other public officials except that Parker and co were unfortunate to be caught in the act and are being prosecuted.
The indictment’s controlling theme is procurement fraud, which has been the crux of several corruption scandals that have rocked the Johnson-Sirleaf administration ranging from the carbon credit kickback saga and the Private Used Permit land grab disaster.
But how the ladies did it? The innovation utilized in looting the NPA is classless. The Special Grand Jurors explained in the indictment that the pair transformed a stationary vendor into a highly rated marine engineer and security expert to remove wreck from the Port of Greenvile. Payments were made but work or services not performed. Festus Poquie & Peter Toby