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Samukai heads back to Supreme Court?

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-NEC yet to receive writ

Lofa County Senator elect J. Brownie Samukai is not out of the woods yet and must as well be headed back to the Supreme Court hours after the National Elections Commission (NEC) indicated that it would go ahead with his certification.

The anticipated court recall follows the filing of a writ of prohibition by the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) at the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision by NEC to certificate Samukai who was found guilty on criminal charges.

The NEC informed this paper Wednesday that it is yet to receive copy of the said writ against Samukai.

On Monday, 8 February 2021, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by a lower court which found Samukai, his deputy Joseph P. Johnson and Mr. James Nyumah Dorkor for the unauthorized spending of soldiers’ pension money.

The former defense Minister and his two deputies were given suspended jail sentences by the Criminal Court “C” last year, on grounds that they restitute the full amount of US$1.147, 656 over a period of time or face two years jail sentence.

Samukai and others took an appeal at the Supreme Court and while the case was pending, he contested and won the December 8, 2020 special senatorial election in Lofa County.

Days later the same Supreme Court again ruled in an election contest brought against him in Lofa, this time in his favor paving the way for his prolonged certification as Senator of Lofa County.

But the MPC has asked the Supreme Court to issue an alternative writ of prohibition and order NEC not to certificate him as winner. At a news conference Tuesday, MPC chair John Barlonesaid his party’s decision to file the writ of prohibition was based on the prior conviction of Samukai.

He says the Laws of Liberia prohibit any citizen from enjoying their rights as provided for under the Constitution for the commission and subsequent conviction of any infamous crimes. He noted that the senate “is meant for people with an unimpeachable character”.

“J. Brownie Samukai is certainly not one of such persons and the process of certification leading to his eventual sitting as a member of the Upper House contravenes the laws of Liberia,” he said. But legal experts here have however, argued that a person is not consider a convict if he or she has not been placed behind bars.

They continued that in the case of Samukai and others they were given suspended sentences with two options to restitute or face two years in jail. They maintained that once those options have not been exhausted, Samukai and others are still free and therefore the argument that he is a convict and should be barred from taking elected office does not hold water.

They further argued that the Ministry of Justice was discriminatory in its letter to NEC and at the same time did not followed the instrument as provided by law in doing so.

The revised election law states that the names and voting cards of those convicted should be presented every December to form part of the NECs record not letter as was done

By Othello B. Garblah–by the Justice Ministry officials.

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