By Lincoln G. Peters
Citizens of Lofa County on Thursday, August 19, paid off US$173,276.050 as the remainder of their Senator-elect former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai’s portion of the AFL soldiers’ personal pension saving funds.
The amount brings to 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 of 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.
Mr. Samukai is yet to be seated as Lofa County Senator since the 8 December 2020 special senatorial election due to lingering disputes over his conviction. He had initially overcome the actual dispute arising from the election itself before a prohibition was filed to the Supreme Court seeking to bar him from taking his seat.
Samukai faces separate legal challenges brought by state prosecutors from the Ministry of Justice and Businessman Simeon Freeman’s Movement for Progressive Change party (MPC) against his certification by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as Lofa Senator on grounds of his conviction in his criminal trial.
The full bench of the Supreme Court is yet to take a decision on whether Samukai should be denied from taking up his Senate seat due to his conviction.
But he is before the high court on appeal against presiding Chambers Justice Joseph Nagbe’s decision blocking the NEC from certificating the convict until the disability imposed on him is removed according to law.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Criminal Court “C” and sentenced Samukai, his deputy Joseph P. Johnson and Mr. James Nyumah 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.
Should the defendants fail on these mandates, the Supreme Court said they shall be incarcerated in common jail and remain there until the full amount is paid.
Speaking in an interview with Judicial reporters after the presentation of a check to the Sheriff at Criminal Court ‘’C,’’ the National Coordinator of the Friends of Samukai, Abass Mark Biaty said the money is their own portion instructed by the court in order to clear Lofa County Senator-elect Samukai.
According to him, the money was raised by the Friends of Samukai who are residing in the diaspora, Lofa and Nimba Counties, and other neighboring countries in order to facilitate his seating as Lofa County Senator.
“We the people of Lofa County, Nimba County, and the diaspora and other friends of the Senator have gathered here today to present the sum of $173,276.05 to add to the previous 18.000 USD that we paid,” said Mr. Biaty.
He explained that they have made the payment in order to officially clear Mr. Samukai from the AFL pension saving saga as they await the Supreme Court for its final judgment. “We are tired of not being represented at the Liberian senate’’, Mr. Biaty said.
Also speaking, the Deputy Chairman of the Friends of Senator-elect Brownie Samukai and former Lofa Development Superintendent Madam Younger S. Sherman said as people of Lofa County, they stand by what they believe in, noting that they have made up their minds to support Senator-elect Samukai and nothing can stop it.
Madam Younger narrated that they as citizens of Lofa made the payment in order to give him his victory despite politics being played by people.
“We are waiting on the court’s response and ruling as we have played our part. However, I can assure you that we will in subsequent time, install our hardworking, caring, and integrity Senator-elect into the office and those who have thought this day will not come will be made [ashamed],” she said.
“Because it was really unthinkable after the court said to run and then the same court said don’t take a seat until you pay,” she added.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/lofaians-in-diaspora-demand-seating-of-samukai/–Edited by Winston W. Parley