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Don’t certificate Samukai

Supreme Court instructs NEC

By Winston W. Parley

Liberia’s Supreme Court has ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to certificate convicted former Defense Minister and Lofa County – Senator-elect Brownie Samukai until the disability imposed on him based on his conviction for a felony is removed according to law.

The nation’s highest court made the decision Friday, 20 August, ending nearly nine months of legal battles which have already prevented the convict from being seated as Lofa’s Senator following the 8 December 2020 Special Senatorial Election he won.

The court’s decision over the weekend came just a day after Mr. Samukai, through his lawyers presented a cheque of 176,276.05 USD, completing the full payment of the fifty percent of his share of Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers’ personal pension saving funds that he and two other convicts were ordered to restitute or face jail terms each.

Of the two separate prohibitions filed against Samukai’s certification, the high court has granted Justice Ministry’s petition but denied the one filed by the businessman Simeon Freeman’s Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).

Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard – Wolokolie did not sign the judgment, but the rest of the four Justices did sign.

The court said it would be wrong to certificate Samukai because he and his deputy Joseph P. Johnson and Nyumah Dorkor have not served the sentence and satisfied the penalty imposed on them.

On 19 August 2021, citizens of Lofa County paid the remainder of Samukai’s portion of the AFL soldiers’ personal pension saving funds, bringing to a total a little of US$191,000, of the former defense minister’s 50 % portion of the soldiers’ money following an initial deposit of US$18,000.

Samukai and two other former officials who served the Ministry of Defense under the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime were convicted for misappropriating the soldiers’ pension fund and were asked to restitute the amount or face a jail sentence. The initial 50% payment had been due and sentencing would have been carried out had this payment not been made.
The money was paid into the Armed Forces of Liberia Welfare Account at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Sinkor branch.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Criminal Court “C” and sentenced Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor to serve a term of two years each in a common jail.

However, the Supreme Court ruled in the corruption case that the sentences shall be suspended provided that the convicted officials restitute the full amount of US$1.147, 656m or (pay) 50 percent within the period of six months, and following that, make appropriate arrangement to pay the remaining percentage in one calendar year.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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