Sympathizers of convicted former Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai including his kinsmen from Lofa County have submitted a check of US$10,000 to his legal team as contribution towards a restitution of US$1.147,656m ordered by Liberia’s Supreme Court against Samukai and his two deputies for expending soldiers’ pension funds outside the pale of law.
“We as friends, sympathizers, well-wishers of Brownie J. Samukai started the rally and we are not going to wait until otherwise. That’s why today we are doing the first presentation of what our rally yielded to,” said Mr. Galakpai W. Kortimai, former Lofa Superintendent and chairman of the Lofaians in Solidarity of Brownie Samukai on Tuesday, 23 March.
“So on behalf of the group, Lofa County also and the citizens of Lofa County, we are pleased, honorable counsellor to present a check of United States $10,000 as our initial contribution,” he Mr. Kortimai adds.
Presenting the check to Cllr. Rufus Saryeah, one of Samukai’s lawyers, Mr. Kortimai explains that due to the banking system they could not other contributions that came from the diaspora on the amount presented Tuesday at the Temple of Justice.
Mr. Kortimai narrates that they will continue on either a weekly or monthly basis until they can pay the 50 percent of the share of Senator – elect Samukai.He says in compliance with the court’s order, they are issuing the check to the lawyer for onward payment to the Government of Liberia.
Having received the check, the team of lawyers representing Samukai expressed happiness for the contribution, thanking Lofaians and others who have made such contribution. The legal team indicates that it will present the check to the sheriff of the court.
Last year, Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay sentenced Samukai and his deputy Joseph P. Johnson to two years suspended imprisonment, provided that they resituate the whole or substantial amount of the judgment sum within six months and stipulate restitution of the balance within 12 months.
Further, Judge Gbeisay sentenced the third defendant James Nyumah Dorkor to a suspended six months imprisonment, provided that he restitutes his share of the judgment sum in whole or in substantial part in six months and files a stipulation to pay the balance in 12 months.
However the Supreme Court in a ruling on 8 February this year amended the decision of the lower court and sentenced all the three convicts to serve a term of two years each in a common jail.
The high court suspended the sentences provided the convicts shall restitute the full amount of US$1,147.656.35 or fifty percent of the amount within the period of six months and thereafter enter appropriate arrangements to pay the remaining portion in one calendar year.
The Supreme Court also ruled that should they fail or refuse to restitute as stated above, then and in that case, they shall be incarcerated in the common jail and remain therein until the full amount is paid or liquidated at the rate US$25.00 per month as provided for by law.
After initially being given a suspended sentence by the Criminal Court “C” last year prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, Mr. Samukai later in December 2020 won the Senatorial election in Lofa County.
But he has not been seated yet in the Senate due to legal challenges brought against the election results by his rivals which recently ended in favor of the convict.
The Supreme Court had decided that Ahmed and James, and Kesselly and Peter who filed a complaint of elections irregularities in Lofa County, had no standing to challenge the results as they were not political parties and candidates.
That complaint originally delayed Samukai’s certification. Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in the election irregularities case, the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) Board of Commissioners ordered its Certification Committee to officially arrange and workout all modalities to certificate Samukai.
But the planned certification got halted again by Movement for Progressive Change (MPC’s) sudden petition before the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition against the certification.
Prior to the MPC’s petition, the Ministry of Justice here had also sought to deny Samukai of being certificated to sit in the Senate on the basis of his conviction in the criminal case in which he and his two deputies were found guilty of spending soldiers’ personal pension savings without their consent. The time for restitution has not elapsed. By Winston W. Parley