NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) was still probing in conjunction with authorities claims of alleged bribery of judges in the most recent Junkanoo parades, JCNP President Silbert Ferguson said yesterday that following interviews with numerous judges, authorities have yet to uncover any evidence of tampering.
He said the JCNP will be thorough in its probe, and if evidence is found of anything untoward the scores of any judge involved would be removed from both parades.
But he said despite the insistence from some Junkanoo groups, to date, no scores have been changed.
“We have seen no evidence of tampering with the parades,” Ferguson told Eyewitness News Online.
“The tapes are still out there floating around.
“We are not able to substantiate anything on the tapes.
“The persons who are on the tapes, we have not yet gotten who [some of] the people are.
“We have asked a thousand times, [but] we are not able to get it so, the police are probing and we are probing on the other side.”
The allegations stemmed from several voice recordings, in which a woman purporting to be a judge in the Boxing Day Junkanoo parade, claimed she and another other judge were paid as much as $4,000 each to influence their scoring, including marking down a particular costume in that parade.
She was speaking to a man in the recording, who was purportedly associated with a Junkanoo group and had designed the costumes, which were allegedly scored down.
Approximately 60 judges scored the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades.
Judges are paid a $75 stipend per parade.
Yesterday, Ferguson said the JCNP was also reviewing the scorecards of all judges for both parades
Acknowledging the implications of the allegations, Ferguson said the JCNP is motivated to bring closure to the matter.
“We have people wanting to call our parades null and void, but we cannot call the parades null and void [with] no evidence; on just a tape that is floating around in social media…,” he said.
He continued, “We have an obligation to our groups, the sponsors, the government and the people of The Bahamas to bring clarity to what has happened here and we are going to go as far as we can go with it and hopefully, we will be able to resolve of it.”
According to Ferguson, judges will continue to be called in and interviewed and there has been cooperation so far.
He noted while the issue is a civil one and not criminal.
A review of the way the JCNP selects judges is also ongoing.
One Family was named the unofficial winner of the 2018 Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade, while the Valley Boys was declared the winners at the 2019 New Year’s Junkanoo Parade.