Take it or leave it, the case involving former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, which has taken on a strong political twist, is yet another of several instances in which the credibility, fairness, and integrity of the Liberian Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, has been called into question.
Questions are being asked about the intent of official prosecutorial action against Samukai over a matter dating as far back as 2013 during the presidency of Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It was/is no secret that this very issue concerning the use of the AFL Contributory Funds by the Defense Ministry was fully discussed between outgoing President Sirleaf and incoming President George Weah.
For all that it appeared at the time, the matter was settled, or at least so it seemed until Brownie Samukai launched his Senatorial bid as the Unity Party candidate for the Lofa County seat at the time occupied by a CDC stalwart, Joseph Tengbeh.
According to some former CDCians (names withheld), apparently having realized the implications of a Samukai candidacy and possible victory to the image of the ruling CDC, which had recently suffered heavy defeats at the legislative polls, CDC stalwarts immediately set into motion a series of actions aimed at preventing Samukai from contesting, let alone winning.
Further, according to the former CDCians, having failed to stop Samukai from contesting and winning, further attempts are being made through the Courts to deny Samukai’s seating. The recent decision by the Supreme Court on the matter has proven very controversial and has been a hot topic of discussion on various radio talk shows recently.
But going by the Court’s decision, it appears unlikely that Samukai will be seated anytime soon. And neither does the controversy appear to be going away anytime soon either. As a matter of fact, it has become a polarizing issue. More to that is the widespread and very poor public perception of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.
Currently hovering over the Supreme Court is deep public suspicion about its role and involvement in what appears to be a cover-up scheme intended to shield a Judge under fire for alleged unethical behavior involving the mysterious whereabouts of US$212,704.36 withdrawn from the account of a party litigant.
But coming back to the Samukai issue, just why a ruling party desirous of securing a second-term win at the 2023 polls would appear to be muddying the waters and dimming its chances of a win in Lofa at the 2023 polls is difficult to understand. Moreover, these developments, as controversial as they have become, are occurring during times of extreme economic difficulties.
Too many families, for example, are going to bed hungry, finding extreme difficulties meeting other needs such as health care and education for their little children. A consequence of this can be seen in the rise in numbers of child peddlers roaming the streets of Monrovia especially, the nation’s largest population center.
Making matters worse for this government are the luxurious lifestyles of its officials and their ostentatious and arrogant displays of wealth, which they do not fail to flaunt in the face of a public faced with increasing hard times. And except they are engaged in self-deception, these officials cannot claim to be unaware of the desperation of the people. A Bong County Senator, justifying receipt of the US$30,000.00, argued for more, declaring that the people depend on them to pay school fees, burial expenses, and the like.
But if indeed the Senator is a true humanitarian, he should underwrite such expenses from his pocket, according to a prominent Bong citizen (name withheld), adding that the payment of such huge amounts of money to legislators to indulge in acts of false generosity cannot be justified on any account. Coming back to the Samukai issue, it would do officials of this government well to consider the implications of the negative public opinion and rising anti-government sentiments this issue is evoking.
As stated previously, these developments are occurring at a time when this government is faced with immense economic difficulties, whose squeeze is being increasingly felt by the public. This certainly does not augur well for social stability and cohesion. And by their payment of over US$100,000 dollars on Samukai’s behalf, the people of Lofa are demonstrating great resolve that they stand behind Samukai. This development certainly does not portend promising results for the CDC at the 2023 polls.
But from the look of things, CDC officials appear unconcerned about the future implications of the possible fallout from the Brownie Samukai imbroglio. This is a matter which should claim the attention of President Weah because, if left to fester, could have adverse effects on peace and stability in Liberia.
He ought to keep in mind the bigger picture and maintain focus, if 2023 means anything to him at all. According to political analysts, some officials of this government have a mindset of “Might Makes Right” believing that the use of tactics of brute force, fear and coercion can succeed in securing victory at the 2023 polls.
The Italian philosopher Machiavelli says, “the Prince ought to be feared, not loved”. Many a ruler, as history shows, have followed this axiom. But history similarly shows that an unkind fate always befalls such rulers. The history of Liberia has examples of such leaders -- President Charles Taylor and, before him, President Samuel Doe, were leaders who were feared. The rest is history.
President Weah is urged to beware of the implications of the possible fallout from what appears to be the Samukai imbroglio.