Former National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Ms. Matilda Parker is requesting the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice to dismiss the indictment drawn against her and a former comptroller Mrs. Christiana Kpabar Pailey for executive immunity and confidentiality.
Ms. Parker and Mrs. Kpabar – Pailey were jointly indicted on multiple charges of theft of property, economic sabotage and criminal conspiracy for allegedly defrauding government of US$837,950.00. between July 2011 and December 2012.
But their lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson filed a motion to dismiss the indictment Monday, 17 September over claims that his clients were acting under the specific instructions of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf to expedite the removal of wrecks and dredging of the Port of Greenville, Sinoe County.
Cllr. Johnson argues that during the implementation of former President Sirleaf’s instructions, pursuant to that specific mandate, several other meetings and discussions were held. During those alleged meetings, he claims, instructions were given directly to his client; some of which he says are confidential and cannot be disclosed because of presidential immunity.
Cllr. Johnson further argues that they are even above Attorney-Client Privilege and he has advised his clients not to disclose to their legal team. He adds that such confidential information cannot be revealed in open Court as well or demanded by Court processes because they are privileged.
The Sirleaf regime indicted the two officials for allegedly designing a criminal scheme in which they awarded two “sole source” contracts to co-defendant Deneah Martins Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise. The State says the contracts valued US$500,000 and US$300,000 respectively were allegedly awarded without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC).
Under the contracts, defendant Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise were to remove wrecks from the Port of Greenville and provide security consultancy at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan and Greenville on behalf of the NPA.
However, the call for dismissal comes days after Mrs. Parker and the other accused were granted a bench trial.
Cllr. Johnson argues that under the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, the president who is also the Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander –In –Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), cannot appear in Court to make any legal representation while serving as president.
According to him, 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.
“Movants say that Co-Movant, Matilda Parker in her capacity as Managing Director for the NPA was personally, formally, and specifically instructed by the President of Liberia Madam 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,” Cllr. Johnson argues.
He claims that the former president’s instruction to Ms. Parker also included the termination of present arrangements and entering more viable alternative arrangement, as necessary. Referencing a Supreme Court decision of November 17, 1944, Cllr. Johnson recalls that the Court opined that agents of the president whose actions were under the expressed intentions of the president of Liberia are immune from further questions by the other branches of government, specifically Court’s inquiries.
According to the lawyer, when President Sirleaf instructed Ms. Parker and Mrs. Kpabar – Pailey to remove wrecks and carry out dredging, they were agents of the president acting under specific instructions of the president.
“[Therefore], Movants are entitled to enjoy the immunities enjoyed by the President, as was established in the Supreme Court’s Opinion of Wiles Versus Simpson,” he notes.The first trial of this case began in January 2016, but it was disrupted by prosecution’s allegations of jury tampering almost nearing the end of the case. The case reached the Supreme Court but was recently sent back to the Criminal Court “C” to resume jurisdiction over the matter.
The entire jury panel that sat as judges of facts in the first trial were disbanded and this time around Ms. Parker and Mrs. Kpabar – Pailey say they do not want jurors in the retrial of the case.
Hearing is due at 1 pm at Court “C” today, Tuesday, 18 September at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah