-As Supreme issues “stay order” on his certification for the Senate seat
By David Menjor and Abednego Davis
The controversy surrounding the certification of J. Brownie Samukai, Senator-Elect of Lofa County, seems not to be possible yet as the Supreme Court has now placed a stay order on the process. The Supreme Court over the weekend ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to include Samukai among candidates expected to be certificated.
The NEC has informed the media of its receipt of final rulings from the Supreme Court in the post-election cases involving Frank Saah Fokoe of Montserrado Electoral District #9 and Numene T. H. Bartekwa of Sinoe County and their opponents in which the two candidates emerged victoriously and are qualified to be certificated by the Commission.
The Supreme Court’s Stay Order on the Certification Of Lofa County Senator-Elect Brownie Samuka came following the filing of a writ of prohibition by the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) at the Supreme Court seeking the overturning of the decision by the NEC to certificate Samukai who was found guilty on criminal charges.
Their argument is that since Samukai is now a convict, the law prevents convicts from ascending to any elected public position until after five years of serving the punishment of which the person was convicted.
The election law Section 5.1 states that all eligible citizens may vote or contest in an election except one who has been judicially declared to be incompetent or of unsound mind or who has been barred from voting as a result of his/her conviction and imprisonment for an infamous crime which disenfranchised him/her as a voter and has been restored to full citizenship.
While the NEC is yet to set a date to certificate the two candidates, Samukai’s fate remains in oblivion as the Justice Ministry represented by the Minister, Cllr. Musa Dean and the Solicitor General, Cllr. Syrenius Cephus, has sent a letter to the NEC asking that electoral body not to certificate the Lofa County Senator-elect because of his conviction for misapplication of pension money belonging to the Armed Forces of Liberia. Samukai was convicted at Criminal Court “C” along with two of his deputies for misapplication of over one million United States Dollars .
The question remains does the section 5.1 can be applied to Samukai’s case?
To ensure that his stay order does not last longer, Justice Nagbe will on Tuesday, March 9, begin hearing steps to be taken to address the problem of Samukai’s certification.
Last week, supporters of the former Defense Minister cautioned the NEC to work independent of any political influence as their suspicion shows that the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is on a witch hunt against the opposition community.
The supporters claimed that if Samukai is not certificated, they will resolve to series of actions without violence to register their concerns to the national government about how unfairly they are treated in terms of representation.
Brownie Samukai was earlier notified to be Certificated on Monday March 1; unfortunately for him, the Board Of Commissioners of the NEC decided reading the latest Communication from the Supreme Court reminding the Electoral Body of its ruling, thus suspending the certification for time indefinite.
As provided for by Article 83 (C) of the 1986 Revised Constitution, NEC is to look into post-election disputes and if parties disagree, they have the right to file appeals to the Supreme Court, whose duty is to put to bed all matters by its final rulings upon review of pieces of evidence and witness testimonies where necessary.