Liberia: Samukai to Pay MoJ US$500 Monthly

Former Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai

… As he attempts to restitute a balance of US$956,380.30 of the money that was entrusted into their care as pension plan for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) which he was convicted along with two other defendants.

The Ministry of Justice has reached an agreement with former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai to pay US$500 monthly as part of his attempt to restitute the over US$1 million he was convicted for along with two others.

The agreement, which was reached between Samukai's lawyers and authorities of the Ministry, called on him to make a monthly payment of US$500 to the Sheriff of Criminal Court ‘C’ in fulfillment of his reprieve clemency, which called on him to enter into a payment plan with the ministry.

“The defendant hereby promises and offers to pay the government through the office of the Sheriff of Criminal Court ‘C’ the amount of US$500, the monthly payment on the first day of each month, beginning June 1, 2022.” 

Samukai’s agreement with the ministry comes roughly four months after being issued reprieve clemency by President George Weah, which relieves him from the burden of forceful restitution of 50% of the judgment sum, equal to US$573,828.15, which he and his co-defendants failed to do, causing the Supreme Court to order their jailing until the full sum of the money is paid. 

Samukai and two co-defendants were convicted for theft of property, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money, and money laundering of over US$1 million and sentenced to two years in prison, and ordered to restore the money that was entrusted into their care as a pension plan for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). 

But the reprieve clemency issued by the President did not just suspend the jail order from the Supreme Court, it provides Samukai extra time to restitute the US$1,147,656.35 laundered. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice did not raise any contention about the payment plan and said once that he can afford to remove the disabilities imposed on him by the Supreme Court, they do not have a problem. 

Samukai and others are expected to restitute the balance amount of time US$956,380.30, after they had already paid US$191,276.05 in three separate checks before Criminal Court “C”  long before the clemency was issued. 

Before the agreement, the parties met under the presidential clemency that suspended the sentence of Samukai and agreed in principle to the settlement before making it public. 

The President's clemency back then brought an end to the drawn-out legal saga of Samukai, whose whereabouts at certain times were unknown after being ordered jailed by the Supreme Court.  However, when the clemency was announced, it changed everything as he started to make public appearances. 

Samukai, who won the December 2020 Lofa County Senatorial seat, was prevented from being certificated after the Supreme Court reaffirmed a lower Court ruling that he misappropriated money belonging to personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia while serving as Minister of National Defense. 

His case became incredibly contentious after the Supreme Court revoked the suspension of the two-year jail sentence handed against him and his two deputies for failing collectively failed to comply with the high court’s mandate and judgment to pay 50% of the judgment sum, equal to US$573,828.15, within six months of last year. 

That ruling then means that Samukai would have served two years imprisonment along with his co-defendants, Joseph Johnson and James Nyuman Ndokor while paying the full judgment amount of US$1,147,656.35, minus the amount the former paid.

Before the Supreme Court judgment, Samukai made the payment of US$191,276.05 in three separate checks before Criminal Court “C” Judge Blamo Dixon, but Justice Yuoh said the payment by Samukai does not constitute 50% nor adherence to the conditions in which the jail sentence was suspended by the supreme court. 

Their two-year sentence was suspended by the Supreme Court on the condition that they (defendants) would restitute 50 percent of the amount payable within six months, a condition which the defendants appear to have breached. 

However, on January 27, the court ruled that Samukai and his two deputies remain in prison until the balance amount is fully liquidated at the rate of US$25.00 per month, for what the court termed as a gross violation on the part of the defendants. 

The Court by then noted that law provides that where criminal defendants are jointly adjudged guilty of a crime, they are together, considered collectively responsible for any fines or penalty until the judgment is fully satisfied.  

The court noted that the defendants were jointly charged and convicted and, at no time did the Supreme Court order any of the defendants to make payment separately from the others. As such, she noted, the issue of separate payment by the defendants has no place in the Supreme Court’s verdict. 

But as the case lingered — delayed first by issues relating to the 50% restitution clause in his sentence requirement and an unsuccessful attempt to convince the Supreme Court that the payment of US$191,276.05 before Criminal Court ‘C’ represented his share of the 50% judgment sum --- which equal to US$573,828.15 — the Weah administration ultimately moved to end his imprisonment and to allow him to pay the money in a timely order.