River Gee County Senator, Conmany B. Wesseh, has described the Supreme Court’s ruling against former Defense Minister now senator-elect, Brownie Samukai of Lofa county as ‘Bad politics’ because the court failed to prove his crime.
The Supreme Court had earlier withheld ruling by Criminal Court ‘C’ with some modifications that Samukai should restitute the US$1,147,656.35 used from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) pension money that he [Samukai] says was used on the orders of his boss, former President Sirleaf. The Supreme Court went further to warn Samukai that if 50% of said amount cannot be paid in six months, he would be incarcerated until full payment is made.
Samukai was convicted of crimes of theft of property, misuse of public money, and criminal conspiracy along with Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Defense Minister for Administration, and James Nyumah Dorkor, former comptroller of the Ministry of Defense.
In his quest to defend Samukai, Senator Wesseh said the Court only found Samukai guilty of a crime but failed to establish why he was convicted. “This decision is rather very unfortunate. I followed it very closely. There is nowhere that the Government has been able to prove or show that Samukai stole money, absolutely nothing it is but just speculative.”
Senator Wesseh is a member of the Unity Party that is also a part of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). He is the second notable official of the CPP, after Mr. Benoni Urey, political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), to speak in defense of the Lofa County Senator-elect.
Both Urey and Senator Wesseh’s arguments are based on the fact that Samukai acted on the order of his boss, then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, commander-in-Chief of the Army Forces of Liberia, to use the money in question for the welfare of the soldiers who were on peacekeeping missions in Mali.
Appearing on the Truth Breakfast Show (TBS) on Truth FM 96:1 on Thursday, March 11, 2021, Senator Wesseh said one of the charges against Samukai is the misuse of a public fund; which the River Gee Senator said is a misplaced judgment because the money does not belong to the public but is a private fund scheme that was not placed in government’s account.
He, like Urey, argued that before the former President could leave office, a consensus was reached with now President George Weah that the current government will inherit the debt owed the AFL, and President Weah’s administration through budgetary allotment has contributed US$460,000 towards this debt.
Senate Wesseh, recalling his time in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration as Minister of State without Portfolio, said, “She took responsibility and I served in her office as Minister of state without portfolio, and part of those things we were dealing with were extra-economic and security issues. So I knew that the decision was taken by the government.”
According to him, the Sirleaf government did not have the resources to take care of soldiers that were on a peacekeeping mission in Mali; therefore, when the need arose, Samukai was instructed by his boss to use the money.
“He got instruction from the President of Liberia that there was some money available in a private account to quickly to deal with the problem of our soldiers in Mali, to deal with a problem of wounded soldiers to take them to the hospital because the government did not have the cash,” Senator Wesseh said.
Though efforts have been exerted by the Liberian Senate to ensure that Samukai gets the green light to be certificated, the Supreme court has maintained the prohibition filed against the certification of Samukai by the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), even though the same Supreme Court had given the greenlight earlier that Samukai can be certificated while he settles the payment.
The action of the Supreme Court to halt the certification of Brownie Samukai has created public outcry that many views are suggesting that instead of the high court being independent of the Executive, it is siding with it (Executive) to thwart the independence of the Judiciary on the dictate of the Executive.