Amid desperate need for evidence to prosecute the highly complicated multiple alleged crimes, which include money laundering, involving former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and several others, government lawyers (prosecution) have now resolved to ask for the high command of the Armed Forces of Liberia to appear and testify as expert witnesses in the matter at Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice.
In recent days Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay threatened to arrest the Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edwin K. Martin, prosecution lead lawyer, over his ‘careless’ handling of the pieces of documentary evidence he (Martin) claimed to have in his possession to be used against Samukai and his co-defendants.
Not also being satisfied with Cllr. Martin’s behavior, Judge Gbeisay fined Martin US$150 and threatened to arrest him if he were to refuse to pay the money within 24 hours, with payment slip presented to the sheriff of the court.
The prosecution’s request was contained in a “Subpoena Ad-Testificadum Duce Tecum,” meaning, an order that requires a person to come to court or appear at a specific time and place to give testimony, was necessitated by the government’s two witnesses from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to produce information about the internal reconciliation investigation that was done by the AFL, in respect of the pension account domicile by Ecobank-Liberia.
General Prince C. Johnson, III., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, General Geraldine J. George, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Captain Nathaniel Waka, Director of Peacekeeping, are those the government has asked to appear on Friday, February 21, to testify.
They are to provide information about the US$50,000 that Samukai authorized to be paid as a death benefit to the families of the late Nigerian General Abdurrahman, which payment the government is claiming that the late General did not contribute anything to the fund while serving as AFL Chief of Staff (CoS), equating it to money laundering.
The high command will also be testifying about payments made by Samukai in the amount of US$170,955, and US$369,380 to facilitate AFL’s operations and also the high command of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeeping operation.
Samukai along with Joseph Johnson, Deputy Minister For Administration, and Nyumah Dorkor, Comptroller General, are indicted by the government of Liberia for multiple offenses ranging from theft of property to criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, misuse of public money and money laundering in the tune of US$1,943,971.99.
Samukai had repeatedly admitted to the payment transaction, arguing that said payment was made with the approval of then Commanding-In-Chief of the AFL, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but the current government is now claiming that the transaction was far from the purpose of the account, named and styled: “Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Account” at Ecobank-Liberia.
The account, established in 2009, was a contributory savings fund which deducted salaries from all ranks of the AFL to serve as a supplementary pension benefit to provide assistance to wounded soldiers and to families of deceased soldiers, which the prosecution is claiming that Late Nigerian General Abdurrahman’s family should not have benefited.
Samukai had repeated that the decisions reached between former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President George Weah during series of meetings held together between January 13 and 17, 2018, and with the leadership of the AFL, that the incoming government would refund all funds spent from the AFL Welfare Fund.
Samukai also argued that on January 17, 2018, President George Weah, then President-elect, held a meeting at his residence in Rehab, Paynesville, with him along with senior leadership of the AFL, where they discussed the outstanding issue of refund to the AFL Welfare Fund, and President Weah confirmed and reiterated in that meeting that he and Madam Sirleaf have met and discussed the situation and agreed to refund all money spent on the AFL from the AFL Welfare Fund during the passage of the budget 2018.
Despite Samukai’s explanation and documentary evidence established between the former President Sirleaf and President Weah, that from the 2018 budget the government would refund the money, the prosecution is now requesting the AFL Generals to testify in the matter.