Lofa County Electoral District #1 Representative Francis S. Nyumalin, Sr., says Lofa County people who believe in their son, former Defense Minister, now Lofa Senator – Elect, J. Brownie Samukai, are going to help raise the money that he has been ordered by the Supreme Court to restitute following his conviction.
Liberia’s Supreme Court on Monday, 8 February upheld a lower court ruling but with modification, convicting ex-President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s longest serving Defense Minister, Mr. Brownie Samukai, his deputy Joseph P. Johnson and Mr. James Nyumah Dorkor for the unauthorized spending of soldiers’ pension money.
However, the Supreme Court ruled in the corruption case Monday that the sentences shall be suspended provided that the convicted former Defense Ministry 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 percent in one calendar year.
But reacting to the court’s decision, Rep. Nyumalin notes that to the extent that the court will determine that Samukai should be held liable for executing the written order of the then Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Mrs. Sirleaf, there is nothing anyone can do about it.
“The Lofa County people who believe in their son Samukai are determined to help raise the money and help to pay government’s money. And … certainly we will do,” he said Wednesday, 10 February on local broadcaster OK FM.
Rep. Francis S. Nyumalin argues that “the kind of imperial presidency this country has,” it could be anybody other than Brownie Samukai serving as Defense Minister, and you have a written order from the Commander – in – Chief of the AFL, it would have been executed.
On the basis of such argument, Rep. Nyumalin insists that the Supreme Court’s decision against Samukai is going to teach current and would – be ministers of whatever ministry a lesson. He argues that there is documentary evidence that Samukai did not take a penny to use it.
In a ruling Monday, 8 February at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, the Supreme Court sentenced former Minister J. Brownie Samukai, his deputy Joseph P. Johnson and Mr. James Nyumah Dorkor to serve a term of two years each in a common jail.
But the court has suspended the jail sentence and instead gave the convicts the opportunity to 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 percent in one calendar year.
Should the convicts fail on these mandates, the Supreme Court says they shall be incarcerated in common jail and remain there until the full amount is paid. In its judgment, the Supreme Court says every withdrawal from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Account should have been by authorization or consent of the AFL soldiers.
The Supreme Court says 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.
After initially being given a suspended sentence by the Criminal Court “C” last year, Mr. Samukai later in December 2020 won the Senatorial election in Lofa County, but has not been seated yet in the Senate due to challenges brought against the election results by his rival.
All three officials were last year adjudged guilty by the lower court of the crimes of misuse of public money, a felony of the first degree, theft of property for over a million USD, a felony of the second degree, and criminal conspiracy.
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 had 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.
By Winston W. Parley