Supporters of Brownie J. Samukai, Senator-elect of Lofa County, yesterday began the restitution of the over US$1 million, as ordered by the Courts, as fund misappropriated by him (Samukai) and two others who worked with him at the Ministry of Defense.
The group presented a United Bank for Africa (UBA) manager’s check of US$10,000 to Samukai’s lawyers for onward delivery to the Supreme Court and promised to do all in their power to raise enough money in order to meet the fifty percent threshold set by the Court to ensure he (Samukai) does not go to jail.
Galapa W. Kortimai, former Superintendent of Lofa County, led the group comprising predominantly residents from Lofa and delivered it to a Clerk for onward submission to the Court.
Kotimai said they, as citizens of Lofa County, have decided to help the former Defense Minister and Senator-elect of the County restitute his 50 percent share of the money he was hooked for by the court.
“We, the Friends of Samukai, the banner under which we are here at the grounds of the Supreme Court, have come to affirm our commitment to paying this money. There are lots of other contributions that have been made but, due to the challenges in our banking system, we were able to get this US$10,000,” he told journalists as he presented the check to Samukai’s lawyers for onward submission to the Court.
Mr. Samukai, Liberia’s longest-serving Defense Minister, along with Joseph F. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller, were all found guilty in March 2020 but took an appeal to the Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling of the lower court.
Criminal Court ‘C’, Judge Yamie Gbeisay, sentenced Samukai and his deputy to two years imprisonment but with a condition to restitute US$1.3 million over a one-year period or risk jail sentence.
According to the Court’s report, Samukai is to restitute fifty percent, or US$382,000 to avoid spending two years in jail.
Kortimai said as citizens of Lofa County, they will stand by their Senator-elect, Samukai, to ensure he is certificated by the National Elections Commission and is installed in office.
The former superintendent noted that the US$10,000 presented to the court was collected from farmers, market women, motorcyclists and students from the Lofa county as well as others from other Counties in solidarity with Samukai.
“Lofa is bleeding because it is not fully represented at the Senate due to the delay in NEC certificating Samukai who was massively voted by the citizens to run the affairs of their county for the next nine years,” Kotimai said. “Some part of last month, we had a rally in which we collected this money that was presented to the court today,” he added.
He disclosed that similar amount will be paid to the court every week until they can satisfy the demand of the court.
Cllr. Rufus Wiefueh Sayeeh, one of Samukai’s lawyers, said their client is willing to pay the money, evidenced by the gesture of citizens of the county and, as such, the Court should see reason and prevail on the NEC to certificate Samukai.
Cllr. Sayeeh said that his client is law-abiding, more so demonstrated by the payment of the first amount to the court, and they are looking forward to completing the 50 percent requirement.