Scores of Liberians hailing from Lofa County and in support of their Senator-elect, Brownie J. Samukai, are expressing frustration over the delay by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to certificate the Lofa County Senator-elect and planning specified and unspecified actions to take if the procrastination continues.
Having heard earlier that the Lofa Senator-elect would be certificated on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, his supporters gathered at the headquarters of NEC and protested against commission’s failure to certificate their Senator-elect.
During their gathering at the NEC Headquarters, the people of Lofa expressed the determination to withstand what they called a “political attempt” by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to disenfranchise the people of Lofa who stood in queues on December 8, 2020 and voted Samukai to lead them at the level of the Senate.
Francis Sackila Nyumalin, Representative of Foya, Lofa District #1, said they have had enough of the test from the justice system and the time is coming when they will not relent to take a radical approach.
“This is no longer about Samukai. It is about Lofa County. Thanks to our supporters who behaved well. Lofa is a peaceful county. Lofa is ready and will respond in any way possible that is legal. The Supreme Court has ruled and no Attorney has the right to thwart the decision of the court,” Rep. Nyumalin said.
He added: “Lofians, don’t worry. You have an elected Senator and at the appropriate time he will begin to serve you.”
Cllr. Augustine Fayiah, legal counselor for J. Brownie Samukai, said he and his fellow legal professionals defending Samukai will not be deterred by the tactics employed by the government.
“This is no longer about the law, but politics. Where in the world a Justice Minister’s action or decision is above the Supreme Court of the land? This is unimaginable, but we will not give up. Our client will be certificated and he will serve his people,” Cllr. Fayiah said.
Alphonso Ben, a die-hard supporter of Samukai, said he is ready to give everything up including his life to make sure Samukai is certificated and allowed to serve the people of Lofa.
As supporters gathered on Tuesday, March 2 to witness the certification of their Senator, tens of officers of the Liberia National Police were immediately deployed to counter any attempt by Samukai’s supporters to protest or carry on any action that may impede free movement.
“From now to Friday, NEC must certificate our Senator. We are impatient and will no longer continue to allow this. The Court has ruled and that decision should take preeminence over any other action, but here they are, using politics against the people of Lofa,” Alphonso Ben said furiously.
He said NEC is an autonomous agency of government and neither the President nor any other person has the right to dictate to it apart from the Supreme Court.
“Imagine this is just a Senatorial election. What becomes of the year 2023 that will see another 15 Senators, Representatives and Presidential elections? How can we trust that there will be a credible electoral process? It is not possible,” he noted.
Samukai contested on the ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
Several young people from the CPP have promised to stage a sit-in protest at the headquarters of the NEC in demand of certification of Samukai beginning Friday, March 5.
Others said they would take some other actions, but refused to state what those actions would be like.
The National Elections Commission (NEC), having disseminated information earlier that it would certificate Senator-elect Samukai on Tuesday, declined to certificate him.
The Commission has not, however, stated when it would certificate Samukai. While at the headquarters on Tuesday, the electoral body read the Supreme Court’s ruling against him (Samukai) in the presence of his lawyers headed by Cllr. Augustine Fayiah. The ruling was handed down by the same Supreme Court that said earlier that the Senator-elect can be certificated while he prepares to pay a substantial portion of the misapplied money in six months.
The Supreme Court, a fortnight ago upheld the ruling of Criminal Court “C” which convicted Samukai, his former Deputy Defense Minister for Administration, Joseph P. Johnson, and the Ministry’s former comptroller, Nyumah Dorkor for misapplication of over one million United States Dollars.
Prior to the Commission’s action yesterday, Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean on Monday wrote the NEC Board of Commissioners (BoC), informing them about the criminal conviction of Samukai, and that it was not prudent for them to certificate him.
His letter was in support and earlier communication to the NEC by Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General of Liberia, calling on the elecoral body to not certificate Samukai.
Cllr. Dean, along with the Solicitor General, were invited by the Senate and, after a long period of cross-examination by the Plenary of the Senate, Justice Minister Dean was mandated to write the NEC, revoking Cephus’s letter ordering NEC not to certificate Samukai.
On the contrary, however, Cllr. Dean wrote affirming Cephus’s letter to the Commission which has stalled the certification of the Senator of Lofa County.