‘Ellen Instructed Me’

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Madam Sirleaf remains expelled from the UP.

-Parker Claims

The over US$800,000 economic sabotage case filed by the government against the suspended managing director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Matilda Parker and her Comptroller Christina Kpabar-Paelay, failed to resume  yesterday due to request by Parker’s legal team praying Criminal Court ‘C’ to dismiss the charges against the pair.

In their ‘Motion for Dismissal’ filed before the court copy obtained the Daily Observer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson argued that Parker, former Managing Director for the NPA, was personally instructed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with urgency to take such action as is necessary to expedite the removal of wrecks and dredging of the Port of Greenville, including the termination of present arrangements and entering more viable alternative arrangement, as necessary.

However, prosecution had argued that Parker and Paelay, following the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigative report, were charged for making payment of over US$800,000 to a purported company, Demeah Martin Flomo, to have won lucrative dredging, security training and uniforms contacts for several ports including the Greenville Port in Sinoe County.

They also alleged that Parker collected the money and failed to perform the work.

Besides, economic sabotage, the defendants were also charged with criminal conspiracy and theft of property based on her failure to complete the projects.

Further to their argument, Johnson said, when Sirleaf instructed Parker to remove Wrecks and carry out dredging, she was by then acting as Agent of the President and also acted under specific instructions of the President.

Therefore, Cllr. Johnson argued that “They are entitled to enjoy the immunities enjoyed by the President and are immune from ordinary processes of the Court for acts carried out under the specific instructions of the President, since indeed and in fact the President is constitutionally immune from prosecution.”

According to Johnson, during the implementation of the President’s Instructions, pursuant to that specific mandate, several other meetings and discussions were held, at which time the instructions were given directly to Parker.

“Some of which are confidential and cannot be disclosed because of presidential immunity, and they are even above Attorney-Client Privilege, which Counsels for Movants advise Movants not disclose to the Movants’ Legal Team and cannot be revealed in open Court or demanded by Court processes because they are privileged.

They also argued that Parker operated under the Board of Directors of the NPA, which Board of Directors reports to the President of Liberia.

“Under the Act, the President may assign certain functions to Parker, while serving as Managing Director of the NPA and, under such condition, reports to the President directly,” said Johnson.

He argued that under the given circumstances, Parker operated as Agent of the President and was covered by Executive Immunity at the time she was given a specific instruction by the President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Parker’s lawyer also argued that while she was in the discharge of her duty at NPA, Parker received direct and strict instructions in a Letter addressed to her from the President.

“Parker acted in strict conformity with the President’s instructions; by obeying the strict instructions of the President categorically placed her in the capacity of “Agents of the President,” Johnson claimed.

Therefore, Johnson argued, Parker was not accountable to a Court of Law for actions performed in that capacity while the President is in her term of office under the “Doctrine of Executive Immunity”.

Ellen’s letter to Parker, Johnson argued qualifies that the President has absolute immunity from all legal proceedings for her official acts, as long as the President was acting within the outer perimeter of the duties of the office.

“This particular immunity extends to any person, official, or agent acting within the scope of the President’s authority,” Parker lawyer maintained.

“For this Court to continue its judicial inquiry or proceedings against the defendants, it will portray a violation of the very foundation that our nation is built on the principle of separate of powers and checks and balances, and Executive Immunity,” Johnson argued, pleading for the dismissal of the charges against the pair.

“This Executive Immunity that is accorded the President of Liberia extends to any person who acts, or acted under the authority of the President’s decision, thereby considered as agent of the President,” he emphasized.

Up to present this newspaper was not able to get the response of the prosecution to the defense’s motion for dismissal.

More to come…

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Very thin see through and silly argument being advanced by the defense. So because the president may have instructed madam Parker to “expedite” whatever process, it meant doing everything contrary to law and especially setting up bogus entities to effect that mandate? I can’t imagine any logical legal reason why a competent judge presiding over this case would even entertain such nonsense by postponing The case one minute. There is nowhere in this civilized world wherein the word “expedite” would mean dishonesty, or deception, falsification, tampering with records, embezzlement and stealing. These are the fingerprints of madam Parker, which don’t fit the definition of “expedite.” Looked at another way, this argument of the defense indicates madam Parker is admitting guilt under the circumstances but praying “presidential immunity?” Such a stupid lawyer! Presidential immunity by the way is nontransferable! Otherwise all government officials appointed by the president to carry out any function of government would be covered under that umbrella. I wonder which law school this other lawyer got his degree from? One sad truth about our judicial system in Liberia is that nearly every so-called lawyer is related somehow to the other lawyer or judge. They are all mass-produced from the same Louise Grimes Law school. Reason why they bluff their way with judges in these cases. Otherwise such a motion as this should have been denied with the pounding of the gavel so hard, until the lawyer making the motion shit in his/her pants.

  2. The defense argument is ludicrous, and the judge should have thrown out the motion to dismiss. The evidence in this case based on investigation by LACC is irrefutable and shows that Ms. Parker and her accomplice, former NPA Comptroller committed fraud. They helped setup a fake company, then wrote a check to the company. The NPA Comptroller accompanied the owner of the fake company to the bank to cash the check and handed the money over to her. She then took the money back to Ms. Parker for her personal use. That’s was my recollection from LACC investigation about two years ago. With such strong evidence, Ms. Parker and her co-conspirator are guilty of fraud and should punished with jail time but with bribery so pervasive in the Judiciary, I have my doubts.

  3. In light of not having all the information obtained from discovery, and reliance only on what’s available in the papers, I think the legal argument here is whether there is conclusive evidence that Ms. Parker is guilty of the charges as filed against her. From what I’ve read in this article and related article, these are the charges:
    1) She collected money to perform work and she failed to perform the work
    Her response: She indicated she did the work

    2) Economic sabotage, though only the Court can determine which one of the charges amounts to
    economic sabotage, based on precedent, case laws and the evidence provided
    3) Criminal conspiracy. This is what the above article states: “However, prosecution had argued that Parker and Paelay, following the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigative report, were charged for making payment of over US$800,000 to a purported company, Demeah Martin Flomo, to have won lucrative dredging, security training and uniforms contacts for several ports including the Greenville Port in Sinoe County.”
    4) Theft of property based on failure to complete the projects
    Her response: The work was completed

    If the four listed charges above are accurate as filed by the prosecution, then I think the Papers and commenters should be careful in concluding the outcome of the case, no matter what may appear obvious from one’s personal opinions of evidence provided by a governmental agency. They must prove it in court.
    I’ll first address the Presidential Immunity reason given for dismissal by the defense. It has no legal standing. So the trial should be allowed to proceed. The first think to note is that Liberia’s jurisprudence lacks any reason to grant Presidential Immunity. It is nowhere found in the Constitution. In the United States, where America’s jurisprudence has allowed for this, it also is nowhere found in the U.S Constitution. Executive privilege is an implied power the courts have recognized and there is a long legal history in the United States that warrants it. Liberia does not have such, and neither am I aware of a precedent or case law in Liberia that warrant one claiming such in a case. It is also not a right delegated to others, but an implied power to protect the President.
    This is the third incidents that this Attorney has made comments or taken a decision that is troubling from a legal perspective. The first was the Janeh’s Writ of Prohibition Stay petition; the second was the inciting of lawyers to boycott the Supreme Court and now this. Except for the second incident, which I think could put him in trouble; I have no issue with his zealotry in trying to win cases for his clients by his attempts in redefining how the court interprets the law.
    On the four listed charges, I’ve read in a related article, where Ms. Parker indicated that the work the funds were geared for was actually done, in contrast to the LACC’s Report. I also see no evidence from the letter Ms. Sirleaf wrote that suggest her negligent in expediting the work has to do with misappropriation of funds, but rather that a different arrangement be made. In the LACC’s report, based on the stories I’ve read, she allegedly violated the Public Procurement laws in the selection of the contractor. Perhaps that’s what Ms. Sirleaf was bringing to her attention. Only a hearing in Court can ascertain and determine exactly what she understood and how she responded to the letter, and if that violation is part of the charges.
    On the third charge listed above, it seems from the story that the $800,000 is a payment that was made to her for payment that should have subsequently been made to the purported company, Demeah Martin Flomo, that won the bid to carry the contractual work required at the designated ports. And the charge then being Ms. Parker instead did not make payments to the company. From what I discern from her argument, she’s saying that the President’s instruction was understood to mean she could use other means than the purported company, Demeah Martin Flomo, and that’s what she did to complete the work as she stipulated. So, the issue here is not whether Demeah Martin Flomo was used, but the charge is whether she completed the work.
    So, the case has to be heard in court to prove the accuracy of the relevant facts of the prosecution and for the defense argument that Ms. Completed the work and payment of the $800,000 was paid to the actual contractor who completed the work.
    The argument for immunity does not exist in my opinion. The uniqueness of the Executive Branch is that under the Checks and Balances system, the Executive Branch is solely vested in the President. As a result the President does have authority over all appointed Executive officials. Therefore the President could at any time summon, instructs or advise any official within the Executive Branch on the execution of policy, task, or function. That does not delegate the Executive Privilege immunity provided solely to the President. And to further clarify this for the Attorney. There is no legal title of “Agent of the President” for public official operating under the scope of their job’s description simply because the Head of the Branch of Government to which they work provide a statement of expectation to that public official in doing his or her job. Her only argument here, as I elaborated on earlier I that she received instructions from the President to use her discretion in the contractor she uses to make sure the project is completed promptly. As such, she, in her capacity as Managing Director chose to contract with another contractor (note: she must provide documentation and evidence of who she used with proof of payment) who eventually completed the work (note: again, evidence must be provided that the work was done). She can also use this defense against breaching the Public Procurement laws, if there’s no provision for Public Official to revisit with the Public Procurement Commission where a change is original contractor is determined by the Head of an agency of government. At least the Court can give her the benefit of the doubt here, as the Managing Director, if she can prove the work was done.

    • What part of “my client is guilty of all the charges but acted at the behest of the president, so we are seeking presidential immunity,” don’t you understand? You too, must have graduated from the same law school as the defense lawyer in this case. This defense lawyer is not interested or ready or perhaps not competent to plead the innocence of madam Parker in tis case, rather he’s looking for loophole to wiggle her out of the case. But as I said, presidential immunity is nontransferable. So let the case goes to trial. And watch him call for postponement of the case because, he is not readying the defense for trial but relying on some silly technicality. Were this the case wouldn’t every appointed official be using “presidential immunity” as shield from prosecution for pilfering public funds? This defense lawyer must have missed classes when tort and other such laws were the topics in school. Trying to pull a fast one over the judge’s head, they call this kind of ploy. Matilda, you going South beach for stealing. No go come!

  4. Hilary. I’m assuming you’re responding to my earlier comment, so I wanted to be fair and reply. We both agreed the case should go to trial. My comment however addressed specific legal questions that are paramount to the specific charges against her and the evidence to support those charges as well as statements she supposedly made in her defense. I added nothing, assumed nothing and took away nothing from what I read about the story. I’m not sure if the Attorney is a graduate of Columbia and/or Harvard, but that’s irrelevant to me. I’ll limit my critique to the legal decisions he makes.

    To your point, you ascribed this quote to Ms. Parker’s Attorney:

    “my client is guilty of all the charges but acted at the behest of the president, so we are seeking presidential immunity,”

    I went back to read the article and do not see the quote, and neither did I read anything that could legally be interpreted to mean what you quoted, which is a direct admission of guilt by the defense, as anything Ms. Parker Attorney admitted to. Hearsay or my personal opinions are not admissable evidence. There are specific charges to which she’s been charged. From what I’ve read, the Attorney has filed a motion to vacate the prosecution case on the ground of Executive Privilege. I addressed that already in my prior comment and won’t address it here in detail. Simply put, the argument has no legal standing, so my argument was that the trial should proceed.

    I don’t think I’ve made any particular argument. Rather, raised questions that a sitting Judge would raise during a hearing. The truth is many of the opinions you expressed would not even be allowed to be completed in a court hearing in a U.S Court. The Judge will keep interrupting you and directing you to the charges, and the defense would certainly object anytime you deviate from the specific charges. When responding to articles and comments, I’ve tried my best to stick to the relevant facts raised in the stories or various comments made by people, and I think I’ve been quite consistent. My personal feeling about each story and comment has been irrelevant. I’m analytical and detail so my comments seem lengthy and boring, but I do my best to keep the dialogue at the level a 6th grader would read and understand. Those are my only weak points, that I rely solely on the factual predicate of the case.

    The rule of law is what must determine the outcome of the case, and not hearsay evidence, opinions, or false claims of executive privilege, under non-existent Presidential Immunity.

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