October 19, 2017
PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM MRS. JENNIE JOHNSON BERNARD’S AGENTS REGARDING $18 MILLION SCANDAL
The Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia have uncovered a calculated ploy by an online media outlet Globe Afrique to malign, taint, and ruin the reputation of Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard. On September 20, 2017, Globe Afrique posted on its website a damming article titled “Nigerian used to siphon 18 million US dollars from fake project”. However, a counter investigation conducted by the Free Thinkers revealed that the article is unsubstantiated; the (unnamed) lady who the Globe Afrique referenced as being the one who divulge the name of Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard does not exist.
While we encourage press freedom, we are at the same time taken aback by the wanton abuse of this freedom by some overzealous media practitioners who usually based their reportage on hatred and falsehood. The Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia will therefore use this medium to call on the Press Union of Liberia to consider bringing to book agents and/or representatives of oversea online media networks in Liberia for proven ethical misconduct. The Globe Afrique’s article titled above is characterized by professional and ethical imbalances due to its failure to contact Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard for clarification after her name was mentioned to them by the (unnamed) lady who according to them was speaking on behalf of Mr. Tony Lawal.
The Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia wish to state in an emphatic tone that Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard does not have a stake in Mr. Lawal’s company and at no time influenced any contract awarded thereto. More to this, findings of a procurement audit commissioned by former Public Works Minister Dr. Antoinette Weeks and undertaken by the General Auditing Commission did not point out any involvement of Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard in the procurement processes involving Mr. Lawal’s company. The Globe Afrique article of September 20, 2017 is therefore a product of YELLOW JOURNALISM which we condemn in the strongest term.
Morris A. S. Swen, Sr.
Morris Swen firstname.lastname@example.org
Globe Afrique’s Position
Globe Afrique is an objective and reputable international investigative media and communications institution with a focus on Africa. Globe Afrique acknowledges the position of the “Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia’s” press statement. True to the company’s objective nature, the managers decided to publish the press release as requested by the group.
While we find the press release entirely irrelevant and the act of a paid agent for a wealthy family in a nation where basic needs aren’t being met due to corruption and greed, we believe publishing this press release shows our respect for freedom of thought and expression. Still, it’s important to highlight a few points.
Globe Afrique did not accuse Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard of any wrongdoing. Mrs. Bernard and her family are friends to Tony Lawal, a former non-engineering junior Nigerian soldier who served in ECOMOG––the West African peacekeeping and monitoring force, during their stay in Liberia. Lawal resigned from ECOMOG and the Nigerian army; soon after that, Mr. Lawal allegedly formed a construction company and a few other companies to siphon money out of Liberia through bogus Government of Liberia contracts with help from some influential contacts within the Liberian government. It is Tony Lawal who, after securing a lucrative road construction contract, including several lucrative agreements totaling over 18 million dollars, fled Liberia without fulfilling any of those agreements. It is also Tony Lawal who has pointed fingers to many in Liberia including Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard. Globe Afrique only reported what Lawal and his people alleged.
According to Mr. Lawal, Jennie Johnson Bernard is a friend with knowledge of some of the businesses that Mr. Lawal operated. Mr. Lawal, a foreigner in Liberia, was allegedly profiteering in activities that Liberian professionals have struggled to establish themselves in. Moreover, the Sirleaf administration has repeatedly denied access to government contracts but instead, has reportedly, offer many lucrative contracts to non-Liberians for kickbacks. If Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard doubts the references made by Tony Lawal, she has the right to ask Mr. Tony Lawal, her friend, to return to Liberia and explain in details what happened with the project and the Liberian people tax dollars.
Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard is also a well-educated woman. So, rather than hire a fake group or an individual to write a spurious press release in her defense, she should call a press conference and allow herself to be interviewed by local and foreign journalists.
According to sources close to Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard, Mrs. Bernard is currently living in the United States where she’s enjoying the good life in an exclusive New York community on Long Island, with plans to relocate to Alaska. Corruption under the Sirleaf administration has kept millions of Liberian children living in abject poverty with no viable access to quality education, preventive health care services, nutritional food, only because of the actions of individuals like Tony Lawal. As a conscious Liberian citizen who has wielded extraordinary power for 12 years during President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s reign, Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard has a moral obligation to speak out on issues of fraud, public theft, and organized corruption.
The Unanswered Questions
Few questions also demand answers here. Does Tony Lawal exist? Is Mrs. Jennie Johnson Bernard a friend to Tony Lawal?
Is she aware that Tony Lawal allegedly operated several phony companies in Liberia including a construction company?
Did Tony Lawal, a non-engineer and a non-Liberian get significant construction deals from the Liberian government (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration) when reputable Liberian engineers and firms did not?
Why hasn’t the Liberian authority issue a statement acknowledging or denying the report?
Why did Tony Lawal escape Liberia abandoning his bogus company for Nigeria where he had no accomplished employment?
How do you know that Tony Lawal does not have a spokesperson? Have you or your group contacted Tony Lawal directly, if so, when and what did he say?
Why Tony Lawal can’t issue a press statement or call a press conference to tell the Liberian people where their money went or why he did not fulfill the construction contract?
Finally, to the “Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia,” your organization, could do far more good defending helpless children, women, elderly, prisoners and the unemployed. Instead, you are advocating for plutocrats and wealthy individuals for personal gains.