Ex-Defense Minister Samukai to Restitute USD$1,147,656.35 Misapplied from AFL‘s Soldiers’ Money

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Ex-Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai

-As Judge Gbeisay passes guilty verdict

Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’ on last Tuesday pronounced a guilty verdict on three of five counts against former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and two of his co-defendants, Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration and James Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of Defense.

He later ordered the defendants to restitute the amount of USD$687,656.35 to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Saving Account and US$ 460,000 to the government of Liberia’s account, totaling US$1, 147,656.35. In his judgment on Tuesday, March 24, Judge Gbeisay dismissed charges of economic sabotage and money laundering on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence to convict the accused. “Therefore, both charges are hereby ordered dismissed”, the Judge declared.

Meanwhile, the criminal court judge has ruled that the sentence will be announced pending pre-sentence investigation in obedience to chapter 31, section 31.5 of the criminal procedure law. He declared, “the clerk of this court is, therefore, hereby ordered to communicate with the probation service of Montserrado County to proceed to conduct a pre-sentence investigation of the defendants herein and report to this court in 15 days as of today’s date.”

But lawyers representing the accused rejected the guilty verdict and subsequently announced an appeal to the Supreme Court. Initially, the government had indicted defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor for multiples crimes including theft of property, criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, misuse of public money and money laundering.

Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay “the clerk of this court is hereby ordered to communicate with the probation service of Montserrado County to proceed to conduct a pre-sentence investigation of the defendants herein and report to this court in 15 days as of today’s date.”

Judge Gbeisay further ruled that the defendants were guilty of the crimes of theft of property, misuse of public money and criminal conspiracy.Further, the Judge said from the analysis of testimonies on both sides, the defense, and prosecution, it is crystal clear that the defendants did not deny the withdrawal and use of the AFL funds, but instead justified their actions on two counts.

In one justification, Judge Gbeisay said, the accused maintained that they acted in line with the Constitution and relevant laws, and the other, they acted on the orders of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and current President George Weah, adding that it was based on this commitment that President Weah made an initial payment of US$460,000.

According to him (Judge Gbeisay), the AFL pension account is private money owned by the AFL personnel and that the Minister of Defense was correct in making himself and his deputy and comptroller as signatories to the funds, in that the AFL is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defense who administers the affairs of the AFL.

The AFL’s account was opened under the signatures of Co-defendant J. Brownie Samukai, Jr., former Minister of National Defense as “signatory A” and Defendant J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of National Defense as “Signatory B” and Defendant Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Defense also as “signatory A.”

“As such,” the judge ruled, “defendant Samukai is by law a fiduciary of the AFL.”

However, Gbeisay further ruled, “it is of the considered opinion that Samukai breached and abused his fiduciary duty to the men and women of the AFL when he selected to misuse their funds for purposes order than intended.”

Earlier, the government had alleged that, of the total amount of US$1,259.462, Co-defendant Samukai with criminal mind personally authorized and co-signed along with defendant Dorkor, a check for US$852,860, withdrew, transferred and intentionally expended same basically on activities that were already provided for under the National Budget of the government, such as AFL operations.

In addition, Samukai illegally paid US$50,000 as death benefits to the families of the late General Abdurrahman, who did not contribute anything to the fund while serving AFL as Chief of Staff; that money was misapplied. In the case of Co-defendant Johnson, the document claimed, authorized and co-signed a check along with co-defendant Dorkor, and caused the withdrawal and subsequent transfer of the sum of US$406,602 from the AFL Pension Account, contrary to the intended purpose of the funds which was for supplementary pension package to personnel of the AFL.

Further, all operational funds from the AFL-pension account were authorized to be transferred into the account of the Ministry of National Defense, except the amount of US$16,000, which was paid directly to one Joseph Gegeh to be identified.

“As part of the collusion, all authorization letters directly resulting in the commission of the crime of theft of property by deception was done by Co-defendant Dorkor.

At the same time, on the 3rd day of the month of October 2017, former AFL Deputy Minister for Administration, Johnson criminally and intentionally authorized Ecobank Liberia Limited to change the “AFL-Pension account title to AFL Morale and Welfare account” without any evidence, consultation, and administrative decision and without the consent of the AFL High Command,” the court’ document alleges.

The indictment further alleges that at diverse times during the periods of July 1, 2009, an account named and styled “AFL Pension Saving Account” at ECOBANK Liberia Limited with account number 1092-522-22-19 was opened under the signatures of Co-defendant Samukai as “signatory A” and Dorkor, as “Signatory B” while, Johnson was also “A”.

The soldiers’ salaries which were deducted between the period of July 2009 up to, and including October 2017, the totaled US$1,943,971.99, representing the combined deductions from the salaries of AFL soldiers deposited into AFL account.

The deductions were made on the basis of ranks. State prosecutors claimed that the defendants misused US$1, 259, 462.

The said account was based upon salaries deductions and was established to provide benefits for wounded AFL soldiers, families of dead AFL soldiers and was intended to supplement the pension package to personnel of AFL upon retirement from active service, the indictment further alleges.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Liberia is a funny country. This judge is handing down guilty verdict against B J Samuka and others but nothing has been done to those who misapplied the 25 million U.S.D. as well as the 16 billion L.D. Clearly this case has a political undertone. Somebody is after B.J Samuka.

    • Edwin,
      It’s obvious that surrogates of the Weah’s administration see Minister Samukai as a strong opponent and will do anything to tarnish his reputation and destroy him. This case represents a typical example of their concocted deeds to paint any potential opponent black and unworthy to serve. The narratives and the decision from this Judge are contrarily different as you can see. It’s quite interesting that the defendants were not personally held responsible for converting any of the alleged misapplicated funds to their personal use.

  2. This is the country where selective justice has hatch and breeding has just started. This case is politically motivated to start with. The only money Mr. Sumuka and others need to paid was the funds payout to a widow because her late husband did not contribute a dime to the program. If Mr. Samuka and others are liable for the money spend under the administration of Madam Sirleaf, in which she was brief before executing the withdrawal,then Madam Sirleaf should have as well be investigated since she was the CIC and was informed before proceeding with the transaction.

    If president Weah and Madam Sirleaf had mutual understanding about this fund to be repaid, under Weah administration, which president Weah agreed to obliged to and even made partial payment of $460.000, then, there should have be no investigation because, government is a continuation. I think Mr. Samuka, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dorkor has been used as scapegoat by the Weah administration in the wake of “fighting corruption” when the real corrupt individuals are untouchable in the administration. We are still waiting and watching to see just when those involved in the $25 million saga will commence. Our eyes are on the ball.

  3. Darn! J. B. Samukai has been caught in a dragnet! During the past few months, Samukai tried his utmost best to evade the courts. But, his attempt to do whatever he could do in order to exonerate himself from being nabbed has failed. On a legal front, Samukai can appeal judge Gbeisay’s ruling. But given the circumstances, Samukai’s chances of being absolved of wrongdoing on any appeal are next to remote. The question now is whether Samukai deposited the missing money in a Swiss Bank or somewhere offshore. If Samukai acts in good faith, the missing money will be paid, not by anyone but by him. But if he does any irrational thing, judge Gbeisay will order him locked up behind bars for some time.

    Bottom Line:
    J. B. Samukai’s 12-year Ministerial record has been stained with corruption. It’s a shame.

  4. J. B. Samukai could well be a pawn. I am not surprised. What irks me most is that too much theft/corruption exists in our country. Because of massive corruption, the country has not changed since the 1970s. There’s little doubt that a genuine change will be seen at least 50 more years from now.

    There isn’t a good running water system in Monrovia, the nation’s Capitol. Yet Monrovia’s population is within range of a million inhabitants, if not a little more. After using it at most places, you flush it with a bucket of water.

    Electricity in Liberia is a joke. Electricity in Liberia cannot be compared with the Ivory coast. Electricity comes and goes. Throughout her presidency, Johnson Sirleaf did little to improve the living standards of the Liberian people. I am not being vindictive; it’s the incontestable truth.

    Back to Samukai:
    Samukai sat in there as Defense Minister for 12 years. One would think that during his tenure, Liberia would have had a tank or a Navy patrol boat by now. But no! During Samukai’s tenure, everything was honky-dory. He was quiet, maybe quietly doing some dirty stuff! His name came up. That’s because something went wrong somewhere.

    God, please forgive their transgressions.
    Peace

    (Brother Dolo,
    Are you on Messenger?)
    Also, I am at home. Haven’t been able to get out since Sunday. It’s boring to stay indoors, but I understand why.
    Take care of yourself. I wish everyone well.

  5. Big brother Hney, yes, I am on messenger.

    If you continuously blame Ellen, as you do all the time, you would develop pressure. Please stay safe. I would love to sit alongside you during that fatefully inauguration ceremony in 2024.

    Liberia needed peace, and so Ellen had to become president for the country to know peace. Whatsoever happened afterwards, it’s a plus, no more no less.

    Weah promised FIXES.
    The fixes should have started by not being ushered to power in a crooked and corrupt way. He compromised his mission. His hands are tied to his back. He took a poisoned gift which may run his belly.
    Watch the outcome of this case; NOTHING will happen. The judge is just wasting his time. What can you do with a man who presided over the forming, training and operationalities of the current security apparatuses?
    Weah cannot push this button further, he himself may get drowned in it.

    The only solution, park them all in the garage come 2023. We can then embark on sustainable development.

  6. Mon Frere Petarus Dolo, bonjour…

    I had a feeling that pretty soon, you would tell me about ushering in 2023!

    I also agree with your assessment as it relates to the Samukai case. I do not think the Samukai case is going anywhere. Even if he embezzled the money, I am not sure whether he will defray the government. The best that could be done is to share the loot with some of his crooks. Anything less than that becomes a pipe dream.

    I have made a lot of mistakes in life. One of my mistakes has been my refusal to stay in the states and not go to Liberia during the Ellen Johnson years. If I had gone home, I would have stolen a lot of money. I am not a doggone thief! But I would have learned how to steal money. After the heist, I would have gotten fat with a big gut and would speak like a bullfrog! In addition to that, I probably would have brought in (30) thirty young ladies as my cucubines.
    Doing something like that is what those dumbbells consider as “enjoyment”.

    I am disheartened. But don’t tell me that your party will fix things up in Liberia.

    Peace to all.
    PS….I am missing Joe Jr.

    • “If I had gone home, I would have stolen a lot of money. I am not a doggone thief! But I would have learned how to steal money. »

      This one got me chuckling to death.
      Uncle Hney, you should have come to have a different experience. I was young then, but I refused to become a stoic; let’s chop today my man, tomorrow will answer for itself.

      I would like for history to retain that I was an epicurean; I would like to join a team that will begin to build a better Liberia for all, not just a handful of people.

      About my team, let me frankly tell you the problem my team may face. We will have problem conciliating views between the diaspora and the partisans on the ground. But we will overcome it quickly because we have a trustworthy and meek leadership.

      My party will fix things. Take this from me today. You, big brother Hney, will be a part of it. You will love it and would want to be part of it, and I will bring you on board where you will even have authority over me. Mark it somewhere!

      Your experience is unquestionable, your wisdom is unmatched, and your intelligentsia is astounding. Above all, I believe you are a true Christian, though you sometimes like to spark trouble and stand on the fence to chuckle at a distance while the individuals bloody themselves. You can only feel better and at home within the ANC, nowhere else.

      You could be a resourceful representative or senator, or work to train our teachers, or a brilliant advisor to the president on education, or even a great minister of education. Get ready to come home. We need you back in Maryland, not Bomi. We will build the roads for you to easily travel in and out of your village. It would be customarily expedient to be buried alongside your mommy and daddy in Maryland, not in the USA.

      Great, ANC will start genuine change!

      Where is Joe? I hope his sister is safe in California!

  7. The Asset Investigation, Restitution and Recovery Team is charged with the responsibility of investigating, restitution and subsequently recovering funds that were embezzled, and misappropriated from the Liberian government as revealed by reports by the General Auditing Commission, (GAC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). This is just the beginning of this corruption fight.

  8. $ 2.00 stolen from the country coffer can cause 10 women to dies in labor pain. Wow!, long awaited verdict have come to light. Well commendable work for the presiding judge. Liberia’s is taking another trend in fighting corruption.

    The judiciary have to be more proactive in fighting corruption cases. Without a strong judicial system we will not have any responsible citizen to uphold the integrity of this land. Government is a area of humanity where people enter t to heartily serve their country, but for Liberia’s the scenario is opposite, is an area of amenity where people got richer. All the developed countries in the world are developed on the shoulder of their judiciary system. The failure of the judiciary to properly adjudicate a case most especially a corruption case can lead the citizens into rampant corruption and show no regard for his or her country. For instead, in the 12 years of EJS regime, since the government was highly corrupt, it quickly infused into the blood of all Liberians. Because a corrupt minister will not teach his or her child integrity. At the aftermath of this, the civil society, NGOs and other pressure group became more corrupted even more than the government that introduces the corrupt system. Perhaps, the court may want to take tougher actions on inductee but due to the interference of the executive in showing great interest into case may also hampered the work of the judiciary which may be in light of maintaining regional, religious and ethno politics vote. I hope GMW will not follow suit.

    Hon. Samukai and his accomplices taking appeal to the supreme court is wasting the Liberian people time, the presiding judge should revoke this appeal and quickly finalize the trio sentence verdict, restitute said amount and have them incarcerated. This shall includes force into hard labor if deemed appropriate community service. It will stands as stern warning to any government or public official that may will be entrusted in handling public fund.

  9. The days of following unlawful orders , like most are always, that they were following orders are over in civilized countries and society. Many Nazi Germans said the same that they were following orders were prosecuted after the war . Officials of civilized governments have the responsibility to protect the sanity of society under the rule of law as opposed to the reckless applications of the law. Today, that country is facing the same accusations about officials of the regime are issuing and following out on unlawful orders or restrictions during this period of the Coronavirus . Restrictions orders that were not put in placed by the National Public Health Institute, and that regime is using the Coronavirus to after the opposition. The ruling from the Court has set that benchmark straight, that unlawful application of the law will not be tolerated, regardless of who issued the order. In this case , the former President gave her approval to the illegal withdrawal of money. The difference here is George has promised to protect the former President at any cost. But just as the former Minister is found guilty, no doubt, the former President would had been found guilty for her role in the illegal withdrawal of funds. Following legal order is just what the Court has just recognized. Power to the Judge and his Court. But paying back the money should be followed by legal punishment. Paying back the money is not a punishment. Some sorts of punishments are needed. Community services or for the former Minister to work at the prison rehab facility is much better than just paying back the money. Judgement for the people was not completely severed. But the guilty verdict sent a powerful message for those that are of the opinion that they are following orders when such orders are illegal.

  10. Mr. Tony Leewaye,
    You state unequivocally that Weah’s surrogates see “Mr. Samukai as a strong opponent and will do anything to tarnish his reputation and destroy him”.

    First of all, it is hard to believe that someone will tarnish Samukai’s reputation. Samukai’s reputation has been tainted with corruption by no one other than himself. Samukai had no business transferring funds of soldiers from one account into another account. I can tell you plainly that money is more slippery than okra. Maybe as Samukai was transferring funds, some of it slipped without knowing where the hell the money went. Right there, the first damage was done….. especially by none other than himself!

    Second, when news of this funny transaction occurred, a Liberian judge (probably not free of transgression himself) summoned J. B. Samukai to appear in court. Samukai received and read the summons. But instead of going to court in order to clear his good name, Samukai appealed for an extension because of an out of country prior appointment. You see that, Mr. Leewaye? Okay, so the courts granted Samukai permission to travel knowing full well that his sad face would return to Liberia sooner or later.

    By God’s grace, Samukai returned to Liberia! While Samukai was away, he may have prayed to God so that his case back home would be forgotten. God tried to contact judge Gbeisay, but judge Gbeisay became so disobedient, he refused to listen to God. So in this third category, Samukai was again contacted by bad man judge Gbeisay. Again and again, instead of Samukai doing the most honorable, he chose to do the most deplorable. Samukai threw in his former boss’s name by saying Johnson-Sirleaf knew about the whole transaction. When bad man judge Gbeisay heard Ma Ellen’s name, he became exasperated and exclaimed like this, “I refuse to buy your story Samuka. You must defray the government of Liberia”.

    Mr. Leewaye, that’s how it happened. Samukai did damage to himself. Now maybe Samukai sees himself as a presidential contender. Or maybe some people believe sincerely that in a race between him and Weah, the contest is winnable by Samukai. Well, that’s not impossible. But before Samukai becomes a presidential contender, he will have to do an introspection and repair his own damage.

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