Diaspora-based Liberians from Lofa County are demanding the government here to fulfill its constitutional responsibility by ensuring that Mr. Brownie J. Samukai is seated in the Liberian Senate as a way of restoring their rights to full senatorial representation in line with Article 45 of the Liberian Constitution.
“We, the people of Lofa County, are constitutionally entitled to two senators, and we do [hereby] petition you (the government) to fulfill your constitutional responsibility,” the group says.
Released under the names of J. Patrick Flomo, Dr. Sakui Malakpa, Stephen Jensen, and Robert Gaygay, the statement accused the government here of allegedly nullifying “the voice of the people of Lofa County by denying them full senatorial representation without explanation nor a declarative statement regarding when this crisis will end.”
The group said it believes that the government created this constitutional crisis and bears the full responsibility to resolve it with all deliberate speed.
Mr. Samukai, a former Defense Minister who served former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s administration won the December 2020 senatorial election in Lofa County but has not yet been seated as he faced different court cases, either for election-related challenges or his role in the misapplication of soldiers’ personal pension saving funds.
Prior to the election, Samukai and his deputy Joseph P. Johnson had already been convicted by the Criminal Court “C” in the criminal case, and their conviction was subsequently upheld with modification by Liberia’s Supreme Court following their trial for misapplying private pension saving funds owned by soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) during his term as Defense Minister.
However, in a separate action filed by the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) political leader Simeon Freeman, Justice in Chambers Joseph Nagbe later granted a petition for a writ of prohibition filed against the certification of Senator-elect Samukai, ordering the National Elections Commission (NEC) to disallow Samukai’s certification until the disability imposed on the convicted former Defense Minister is removed according to law.
“The Clerk of this Court is ordered to issue the peremptory writ of prohibition, send a mandate to the 1st respondent, NEC, disallowing the certification of the 2nd respondent, J. Brownie Samukai, Jr., until his disability imposed on him by his conviction is removed according to law,” Associate Justice Nagbe said in a ruling Tuesday, 4 May.
But the group of Lofaians in the diaspora calls on all Liberians to join the people of Lofa County to urge the government to restore their rights to full senatorial representation in line with the Liberian Constitution.
“Today, it is Lofa County; 25, 50, or 100 years from now, it will be your county if we all do not address this governmental abuse of power,” the group said.
The group noted that the question is no longer a partisan question but that of full legislative representation for the county, urging their past leaders to form a united front and to use the influence of their positions, endowed upon them by the people of Lofa County to serve their needs.
“To the past and present leaders of Lofa County who have not spoken out or [sought] redress of the aforementioned concern): We are afflicted and disheartened by your lethargic reaction to this serious constitutional injustice,” the group lamented.
Early this year the Supreme Court sentenced former Minister 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 shall 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 a common jail and remain there until the full amount is paid. In its judgment, the Supreme Court said every withdrawal from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Account should have been by authorization or consent of the AFL soldiers.
The Court, therefore, said the unrelated expenses of US$1.147,656m on the instruction of former President Sirleaf was without the pale of the law, and the appellants (defendants) are held personally liable for the unauthorized expenditure on the account.