The intervention of Justice Minister and Attorney General, Frank Musa Dean, the top law enforcement official in the country, leading to the obstruction of the certification of Lofa County Senator-elect, Brownie J. Samukai, has been greeted with disapproval from one of his legal colleagues, Cllr. Jonathan T. Massaquoi, who has accused the Attorney General of abusing his constitutional responsibility.
Speaking to judicial reporters at the Temple of Justice on Tuesday, March 2, Cllr. Massaquoi claimed that Cllr. Dean stands accused of directing the National Election Commission (NEC), through his communication to the electoral body not to certificate Brownie J. Samukai. Cllr Massaquoi said the action of the Justice Minister is an attempt to destabilize the peace and security being enjoyed by the people of the county.
Cllr. Massaquoi claimed that the letter from Cllr. Dean was a clear demonstration of an ‘abuse of power’ by the Attorney General, stressing, “They are not a party or a candidate in the democratic process where the citizens overwhelmingly voted their choice and not the Ministry of Justice to deny them of their constitutional rights.”
In his letter, Cllr. Dean made particular reference to Section 3.23 of the New Elections Law.
The letter reads, “We present our compliments, and consistent with Section 3.23 of the New Elections Law, herewith informs you of the attached final judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, affirming the Judgment of Guilt against Messrs. J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph Johnson and Nyumah Dorkor, for the commission of the crimes of theft of property, misuse of public money and criminal conspiracy.”
He added: “Further, may we inform you, that it is the law extant in our jurisdiction that any person convicted of a felony, committed in connection with his employment as a public servant, is disqualified from holding public office until the sentence is served and/or the satisfaction of any other penalty imposed.”
However, in response to the letter and the reference, Cllr. Massaquoi said the Minister’s interpretation of the section was absolutely wrong. “Dean’s interpretation of the law is wrong because the law talked about a public servant and Samukai is not an active public servant to be convicted so that he will be denied of taking his seat in the Senate,” Massaquoi argued.
Massaquoi argued further that the Supreme Court’s ruling referenced by Dean does not say the Ministry should write the election commission not to certificate Samukai. According to him, it only asked Samukai to restitute the money, nothing to do with certification; so where does the Minister come from to say do not certificate?”
Massaquoi said if the Ministry were to have any problem with the Supreme Court judgment, they should have run back to the court for a writ of prohibition and not to have written the NEC to halt Samukai’s certification.
“It is wrong and politically motivated and should be resisted by every Liberian. It is an abuse of power,” Massaquoi claims.
The Supreme Court lawyer believes that Cllr. Dean is compromising the Justice Ministry’s independence with the decision to meddle into the democratic process just to protect the interest of someone else.”
This undemocratic behavior must stop and Minister Dean’s action should be condemned by his legal colleagues,” Massaquoi. said.