On prosecutors’ request, Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay has subpoenaed Defense Minister Daniel Ziankahn and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Major General Prince C. Johnson, to testify in the trial of former Defense Ministry officials regarding alleged misapplication of soldiers’ compulsory savings.
Making the request Monday, 24 February, the prosecution pleaded with the court for the issuance of the writ of ad – testificandum to be served on Minister Ziankahn and AFL Chief of Staff Gen. Johnson.
The prosecution specifically states in its request that the testimony of the subpoenaed Minister will be restricted to the authorization of his name as a signatory to the AFL Pension Account or AFL Welfare and Morale Account.
Also, the prosecution adds that the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Johnson’s testimony will be restricted to the authorization of his name as signatory to the AFL Pension Account or AFL Welfare and Morale Account.
The prosecution had requested the appearance of the officials for Wednesday, 26 February, but the judge, in granting the State’s request orders that both generals are to be served with subpoena to appear on 25 February at 10:00 AM.
Judge Gbeisay warns that failure on the part of the subpoenaed officials to appear, the court shall ensure that they are in court, further instructing the clerk to issue the subpoena.
The subpoenaed officials are due to testify in the trial of former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, co-defendants Joseph P. Johnson and J. Nyumah Dorbor and others who are standing trial for allegedly embezzling funds generated in a compulsory saving scheme established in July 2009 for personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) during former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s rule.
The defendants were indicted by the regime of President George Manneh Weah on 9 October 2019 over claims of committing economic sabotage, theft of property, and misuse of public money, among others.
Through the compulsory savings funds, prosecutors say former Minister Samukai, former Deputy Defense Minister Joseph Johnson and former Defense Ministry Comptroller Nyumah Dorbor deducted the salaries of AFL officers from all ranks to serve as supplementary pension benefits for assistance to wounded soldiers and deceased soldiers’ families.
Over US$1.2m of the US$1.9m deposited was allegedly misapplied by Mr. Samukai, the prosecution alleges, and claims further that the defendants made themselves the only signatories to the account, leaving out the then AFL Chief of Staff and other ranking officers.By Winston W. Parley