Brownie J. Samukai, former Defense Minister of Liberia who has been at the center of controversy surrounding the alleged theft of pension money belonging to members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), has challenged the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), as well as all others calling on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to deny him the certification to contest for the Senate seat in Lofa County, to go to court and prove the relevance of their arguments.
Samukai’s response is a result of the Justice Ministry’s letter to the NEC, calling on the Commission to deny the former minister all rights and privileges to contest the December 8 polls.
“The Justice Ministry contradicted itself in that letter,” Samukai told the Daily Observer in a telephone interview. “I have it in my possession and from all rational reasoning, they have no ground. The NEC has ruled and threw out the appeal from my complainant based on legal grounds.
“Therefore, I encourage them to go to court instead of acting as though they have the right to interpret the law,” Samukai challenged the Ministry and all others seeking his denial to participate in the upcoming December 8 polls.
The Justice Ministry’s letter, dated October 26, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer says: “We present our compliments and write to clarify what seems a controversy in respect to claims and counterclaims over whether or not Mr. Brownie J. Samukai, Jr. is a convict for financial frauds, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money and theft of property, and therefore, should not be certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to stand as a candidate for Lofa County in the forthcoming Mid-term Senatorial elections.”
The letter, signed by Cllr. Sayma Serenius Cephus, Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, said Samukai is a convicted felon and that a careful review of the Ministry’s records shows that Mr. Samukai and two others who worked under his watch at the Ministry of Defense at the time were duly indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced and ordered to restitute the amounts of US$687,656.35 and US$460,000 respectively, for the commission of crimes of theft of property, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money, and money laundering by Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice during its February Term A.D. 2020.
The Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has, however, affirmed that the former Defense Minister is not guilty of any wrong doing relative to his expression of intent to participate in the electoral process in December.
The Commission, in upholding its chief hearing officer’s judgment, denied and threw out the appeal filed by Samukai’s complainants.
In the NEC’s hearing officer’s judgment, Samukai cannot be considered a convict when he is not in jail and that even though he was found guilty of committing crimes, he was allowed bail by the Court, cautioned to restitute whatever he has misappropriated and allowed to move around freely.
The Board of Commissioners also affirmed and upheld the ruling and is set to certificate Samukai today at its headquarters in Sinkor.
“I am not here to dignify speculations, neither give credence to anything alien to the truth or reality. We live in a country of law, not of men. Let them take me to court and prove reasons why I should not be certified to contest, or they should leave me alone,” Samukai admonished his critics and the Justice Ministry.
The October 26 Justice Ministry’s letter confirmed that Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and J. Nyumah Dorkor were allowed bail by the court because the alleged crimes they committed are bailable.
”They are out on bail pending the final determination of their appeal before the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia. This being the case, the appeal is legally limited to, or effectively bars the enforcement of penalty of the conviction and sentencing, but does not return the convicts, as in the case of defendant Brownie Samukai, to a situation of a Status Quo Ante, as it is being erroneously construed,” Cllr. Cephus said.
He explained further in his letter that: “The principle of law regarding conviction in Liberia instructs that, if a person commits, for instance, a bailable or non-bailable offense, say murder, treason, or rape, and is tried and convicted, and if he or she announces an appeal, that person remains a convict and will be behind bars, while the appeal process is perfected.”
The Solicitor General said Samukai is not a free man as he claims to be and, as such, he should not put the law to test.