How Will the Korkpor Bench Explain Itself?

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Once again the Liberian Judiciary has been drawn into the crosshairs of very adverse public opinion and all for the wrong reasons too. It all has to do with the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the decision of the lower court convicting former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai of misuse of public funds.

The former Defense Minister and two others, including the former Defense Ministry Comptroller, were charged for misusing public funds intended for the welfare of soldiers of the AFL. This charge was levied against Samukai and co after President Sirleaf left office.

But the history of the case shows that Brownie Samukai, then Minister of Defense, former AFL Chief of Staff, Daniel Ziahnkan, former President Ellen Sirleaf and then President elect, George Weah, held a meeting on the same issue prior to her leaving office.

To the best of publicly available information, President Sirleaf, in that meeting had agreed that Samukai acted based on her approval although such approval was not written. But, according to sources, this was not unusual under President Sirleaf.

Truth be told, President Sirleaf ran a very corrupt administration. Millions of dollars remain unaccounted for. She acknowledged that under her son, NOCAL went bankrupt with millions remaining unaccounted for.

When confronted by journalists on the issue, she replied “I take responsibility”. Although she accepted personal responsibility, she has never since made restitution. But President Weah has failed to hold her to account in keeping with his promise to protect her.

Also, take  the case of the ExxonMobil Concession Agreement which was illegally concluded outside the framework of the 2002 Petroleum law in 2014. The Concession Agreement was passed in 2014 but the 2002 Petroleum Law was not amended and passed into law until 2016. If this is not corruption, what on earth could it be?

Later ExxonMobil was to pay handsome rewards to all those who had participated in the drafting of the agreement which effectively stripped Liberia of national ownership of its oil resources and even scrapped the 10 percent local participation requirement all in exchange allegedly for kickbacks.

Former Justice Minister Christiana Harmon Tah, responding to public criticism of the deal told the public on a local radio talk-show that Robert Sirleaf, the son of the President was the sole individual in direct negotiations between ExxonMobil and government.

She charged that when she raised concern with President Sirleaf about the removal of the local content requirement from the Agreement especially when the 2002 Petroleum law had not been repealed or amended, President Sirleaf angrily retorted, “You have your marching orders”, meaning I have instructed you so act accordingly even if illegally.

Another instance cited was that of the case of the alleged missing L$16 billion banknotes. It was revealed from investigative audits that officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) were deliberately not recording official transactions constituting lapses neither they nor President Sirleaf could explain.

Through it all, President Sirleaf, according to a retired banker feigned ignorance of all what was happening at the CBL. According to him, this is because there is no way that President Sirleaf could not have known what was going on with her son sitting as deputy head of that institution.

At the close of the day, several persons including her son were criminally charged, arrested, handcuffed and paraded around the city in an open pick-up truck. Clearly, according to the retired banker, such was intended to get at President Sirleaf.

But the charges were not to stick. After what was virtually a sham trial, everyone was let off the hook. Back to the Samukai issue, it appears that the decision taken by the Supreme Court upholding the verdict from a sham trial presided over by a Judge alleged to be very corrupt, is politically motivated,

And this decision has come on the heels of the rather public excoriation of Senator Varney Sherman by the US Department of Treasury which slammed him with sanctions for alleged corrupt influence brought to bear on Judges to render decisions in his favor as well as Justices of the Supreme Court for impeaching Justice Kabineh J’aneh.

Chief Justice Korkpor, has responded by in effect charging that no evidence was adduced against any of the accused judicial officials that would serve as a basis on which they can be sanctioned. According to a retired judicial official, the Chief Justice’s response is lame.

This, according to him, is because the public is fully aware that corruption is rife in the judiciary and under the leadership of Chief Justice Korkpor respect for the rule of law as well as the rule of law itself has eroded significantly, and that this latest decision simply affirms the non-independence of the nation’s judiciary.

Samukai has won the senatorial elections hands down and his victory has been confirmed by the National Elections Commission (NEC). He was challenged by defeated contestants charging fraud but the NEC having examined the evidence has affirmed Samukai’s victory.

But, by this recent and strange twist of things, it appears that this government, for all intent and purpose, appears poised to imprison a man popularly elected by his people, a Senator of Lofa County.

From a political perspective and the history of the contentious 2017 elections, such a move by the government at this time could prove counterproductive for a President mulling a second-term run for office.

The question is, what does Chief Justice Korkpor and his colleagues on the Bench, save the sole female dissenter, hope to achieve by creating a hero of Samukai and planting seeds of enmity between this government and the people of Lofa?

Further, just how has Chief Justice Korkpor helped his case defending against corruption charges levied by the US Department of Treasury is something to ponder. Shame and Scorn he has invited into the chambers of justice. Now it appears justice has been thrown to the dogs!

The FrontPage Africa newspaper in its reportage of this development questioned. “How will Justice Korkpor’s Bench explain itself for bringing forth by 5-G kinetic speed a non-electoral appeal case at this time”?

12 COMMENTS

  1. The Liberian Daily Observer,
    Come to think about it, if Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, and co-defendants Joseph P. Johnson, and James Numnah Dorkor, considered by and through themselves, whether collectively and/or separately, to have not criminally and unlawfully withdrawn the US$1.4 Million dollars from the private account of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and misapplied this large sum of money to them and Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s personal and private use and benefit, represented by Cllr. M. Wilken Wright, Liberia’s Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Augustine Fayiah, and Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, what factually and legally prevented defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor from compelling Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia to come to Court and before Criminal Court “C” to prove that Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, were not guilty by and through Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf’s testimony? And that in fact she, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as President of Liberia, ordered defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor to withdraw the US$1.4 Million dollars from the private account of the AFL?

    By law, under the trial custom, tradition, and practice, only the testimony of Mr. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was factually and legally sufficient and enough to have established that Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, were not guilty and that they, Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, acted on the instructions of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf then President of the Republic of Liberia. Defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, come what may, are guilty of the Crime of Property Theft and if not, and they were not guilty, why they neglected, failed, and with determination, chose not to bring Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to court and before Criminal Court “C” to publicly establish that she ordered and instructed Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor to literally withdraw and appropriate the US$1.4 Million dollars from the Private Account of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)? Granted that Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s most corrupt and insensitive former President of Liberia, ordered Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, what caused defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor to recklessly shield and refuse to compel Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf and her Government to come to court?

    If defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, were not guilty and Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is, then defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, must come what may, take the full blame and responsibility for criminally withdrawing the US$1.4 Million dollars from the private and personal account of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and criminally misapplying members of the AFL’s US$1.4 Million dollars.

    Legally, if defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, did not take, steal and convert the US$1.4 Million dollars owned by members of the AFL and applied this amount of money to their personal interest and benefit, then, why did Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, separately and collectively choose to shield Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf from being brought to Criminal Court “C” to testify and establish that she, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered and instructed Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor to withdraw, take and apply the US$1.4 Million dollars, on her instructions and orders, as President?

    Since defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor intentionally barred and prevented Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Government from guilt, they are and must be criminally held responsible for having committed the Crime of Property Theft.

    Factually and legally, it makes no sense, for Liberian Daily Observer, to pass the blame and self-inflicted guilt of defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor. The management of the Liberian Daily Observer, knows better and should know better.

    Defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor, are not above the Laws of Liberia.

    • Frederick Jayweh, why you often impersonate the lagal profession as a lawyer is not only baffling but criminal. So you need to seize and desist that criminal indulgence to save yourself any future embarrassment.

      Take your pitiful blabberdash exhibited here as so-called legal opinion in the matter at hand for example. Firstly, you keep repeating the same nonsensical question about why Ellen Johnson did not volunteer as a witness in this case? As if the repition of that illogic will add any grain of sense at some point?

      Any freshman law student would know from Constitutional Law-101, that a president is immuned or protected from prosecution for any act appertaining to duties and functions in the discharge of their office. Didn’t the law school at the university of Grand Gedeh from which you graduated teach you that? All Louis Arthur Grimes graduates know that from orientation day.

      If you were truly a lawyer as you fantasize and often impersonate, you would be deciphering for us laypeople and as the advocate you purport to be, the legal implication of what this editorial alarms of the Supreme Court’s decision in this matter. The legal basis in your “expert” opinion of why you believe the high court took that stance, which is fast taking side with the low esteem in which the SC is now regarded.

      Instead you focused on “why didn’t Ellen Sirleaf submit herself as a voluntary witness” in this case? Are you mad? Even besides the presidential immunity caveat mentioned above, how common is it for citizens to volunteer as witnesses in these lagal matters? Is that the norm in the cave community you serve as “Chief Justice” in too? No wonder.

      The disquietude of this editorial about the injudicious intervention of our Supreme Court in cases like this, with political overhang or implications, just happens to represent the overwhelming anxiety and trepidation of countless of Liberians about the growing lack of integrity, probity, respect and even the independence to chart such mortifying and contemptuous epithets of that court for itself. And we are talking a court of last resort! A court that could mean life or death for any citizen that appears before for that critical determination? God, please save us!

      That’s the concern, Mr. Cllr.-wannabe. So if you could just lay asise your Ellen Johnson Sirleaf infatuation for one minute, and tell us what you as a future lawyer think of the SC stance in this case buttressed by the law, precedents, etc., perhaps we will be convinced you are cut out as a potential judicial page, or apprentice somewhere one day. Try that!

      • Errata: …lagal profession in the 1st sentence above, =legal profession.
        Also, … As if the repition of =repitition. Thank you

  2. Mr. Dempster Yallah, AKA, Peter Gboyo,
    Again, I am the least surprise of your reckless, irresponsible, and total lack of factual and legal appreciation and understanding of why Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and James Nyemah Dorkor, were first and foremost indicted, tried and convicted firstly by Criminal Court “C,” and why the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia confirmed and reaffirmed the guilty judgment of Court “C”.

    Permit me and if I may, to help to educate you and yours relative to what is lawful and unlawful. I repeat, Criminal Court “C” convicted defendants J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and James Nyumah Dokor, for Property Theft, and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, upheld and sustained the conviction of defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, simply because, they consciously and intentionally neglected, refused, and failed to bring Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of the Republic of Liberia to Court to testify and uphold their claim that Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf, instructed, and ordered them as President of Liberia, to withdraw and apply the US$1.4 Million dollars belonging to members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). Their failure, refusal and neglect, was and remain material to their guilt.

    The neglect, refusal and failure of defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor to voluntarily bring Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to court, or cause Court “C” to, compel Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf to appear in Court and establish the contrary to the State’s indictment, legally meant that defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor, are guilty by admission. Presidential immunity, does not and will not apply where a sitting President, knowingly and intentionally commits a criminal offense. Perhaps, this is why, defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, totally refused to bring Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf to Court and have her testify.

    Under the Laws of Liberia, where a defendant raises an allegation/claim, he/she, bears the burden to factually and legally prove his/her claim. Defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor, were not insane or placed under duress to and when they referenced Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s former President as their PRIME WITNESS to prove them not guilty as charged. They were represented by great trial attorneys and Cllr. M. W. Wright, who know better and should have done better.

    The Liberian Daily Observer, Mr. John H. T. Stewart, and the entire staff of the Observer Newspaper, are highly recognized and most respected Liberia’s key and most trusted Newspaper operating in Liberia and internationally. I maintain, the Observer, knows better, can do better, and must be do better.

    Defendants J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and James Nyumeh Dorkor, whether collectively or singlehandedly, are not above the Laws of Liberia.

    Absolutely, you are pretty naïve to think and believe that nothing good can come from out of Grand Gedeh County; although, I am a native of Grand Bassa County, Liberia and not Grand Gedeh County. To many of you, so-called 70s and 80s, Progressives, Grand Gedeh County, is not a part of Liberia.

    How so, Mr. Dempster Yallah, AKA, Peter Gboyo???

    One good reason why the 1970s and 1980 so-called Progressives, shall never see the face of power and Presidency of Liberia.

  3. And Mr. Jayweh, to add to your eloquently articulated erudition of the law supra, people should acknowledge the fact that according to the anchor of our national existence ..the Liberian Constitution, it is stipulated in ARTICLE 61 that..

    “The President shall be immune from any suits, actions or proceedings, judicial or otherwise, and from arrest, detention or other actions on account of any act done by him WHILE WHILE WHILE President of Liberia pursuant to any provision of this Constitution or any other laws of the Republic. The President shall not, however, be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission
    of any criminal act done while President.“

    So, let those who are baselessly daring to refute your authoritative arguments realize that the constitutional immunity of an incumbent President stipulated in Article 61 of the Liberian Constitution ends the very minute the mantle of national leadership is handed over to the inaugurating President!

    And this constitutional jurisprudence viz the NON ABSOLUTE NATURE, LETTER AND SPIRIT of the presidential immunity is made even clearer ipso facto the letter and spirit of the final clause of the very Article 61 which stipulates that “The President shall not, however, be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while President.“

    Accordingly, your reasoning and conclusion are true and correct that “The neglect, refusal and failure of defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor to voluntarily bring Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to court, or cause Court “C” to, compel Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf to appear in Court and establish the contrary to the State’s indictment, legally meant that defendants Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor, are guilty by admission.“

    Mr. Jayweh, etc., etc, please simply peruse this clipping infra from Frontpageafricaonline (February 25, 2020) and you will easily assimilate that Samukai could not dare ask former President Sirleaf to testify!

    For even the very President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself had already tacitly indicted Samukai ipso facto her question to General George and Samukai. “The former President wanted to know if the unrelated expenditure was used for personal gain by Hon. Samukai.“

    “Gen. George also testified that following the completion of the internal investigation report, a meeting was convened by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to ascertain the findings contained in the report.“

    “After the completion of this report, it was forwarded to the former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the President of Liberia. The former president sent for a team to enable us to discuss this report and those present in the meeting were Brownie Samukai (then Minister of defense), late Fredrick Cherue, Former chief of Staff Ziankahn, Sgt. Manqueh Cooper and the present deputy Chief of staff Geraldine George.”

    Witness George adds: “The former President wanted to know if the unrelated expenditure was used for personal gain by Hon. Samukai. That was the question she posed to the chairperson of the board, Geraldine George. I told the former president (Ellen) that I do not know whether funds were used for personal gain because my term of reference did not say whether we should find out whether funds were used for personal gain.”

  4. I hope none of the lawyers above are practicing law in Liberia. If so, I will register to practice law in Liberia because I think I can do better.

    • And yes, you can, Petarus! As you have demonstrated here time and again that you are one of few well-rounded hotshots around here, with superior acumen in varying fields including the law, that coveted calling which these menacing gibbering scamps here try to besmear with sophistries. Good thing we know better and can continence their shallowness about these things, and no matter how opague and grotesque. Some of the pitfalls of comingling oneself with street urchins in these public spaces. Where even animals have rights! Oh well.

  5. Mr. Dolo,
    Having clearly and forcefully argued and articulated the criminal guilt of defendants J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and James Nyemah Dokor, and why the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, reaffirmed and reaffirmed the guilty judgment of Criminal Court “C”, I will let you off the hoke of wishing to ably practice law in Liberia, thinking and falsely believing that you can do better. If and whenever Liberia and its people shall elect a CPP-led Government, GAY AND GAY LIFE, and the Crimes of Property Theft and Economic Sabotage, will certainly be the order of the day. A CPP-led Government, will make no difference, as criminally convicted Senators like J. Brownie Samukai and other powerful people, will be running the Republic of Liberia, with no integrity and WITH absolute and total impunity. GOD, PLEASE HELP AND PROTECT LIBERIA FROM OUR-TIME-PEOPLE!

    • Frederick, why you keep peddling this asinine interpretation of what transpired in that proceeding and as the best you could offer about this, is mind boggling, to say the least.

      A minister of government who serves at the pleasure of the president says in a legal proceeding, that s/he did whatever the offense at the behest of the president and the president acknowledges that, and that minister in your animal instinct, supposed to be held accountable for the transgression? How irrational and groundless could that be?

      And guess what, Mr. lawyer-wannabe, even if the presidential immunity were waved for the sake of argument and to entertain you and fellow clown for a second, and the president was compelled to appear in your imaginary court, the president could use “national security concerns” as alibi or justification for the utilization of the funds in question, then what? Remember you talking the Ministry of Defense here. Of course, something tells me you wouldn’t understand the impication of that defense.

      This is exactly why the Observer editorial questioned the acumen of those who ought have weighed all of those variables before siding with the agenda-driven determination of the lower court.

      And this is not about Ellen or Samukai or any of the defendants in this case, per se, rather the law! or sanctity thereof. When the SC renders judgement in any case it ought to exude wisdom, insight, judiciousness, reason, logic, enlightenment, but especially the law and above all, common sense. All attributes which our SC continues to betray.

  6. Defendants J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph P. Johnson, and James N. Dokor, criminally and unlawfully entered the private account of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and with no color of right, withdrew US$1.4 Million dollars and thus, Mr. Samukai, Johnson, and Dorkor were tried, convicted, and sentenced consistent with the Laws of Liberia. You can cry as long as you want, Samukai, Johnson, and Dokor are not above the laws of Liberia and they are guilty for the commission of the crime of Property Theft and as charged.

    CPP and/or the 70s and 80s so-called Progressives are one and the same.

  7. “The media again has become a guard dog for the highest bidder, in most instances politicians will pay them to distort the truth, leading desperate citizens astray.” Leymah Gbowee

    According to Gbowee, in Liberia, media practitioners who are often determined to expose the truth are discouraged by their peers as “carto now becomes the key to the media’s way of doing business. “

    What Leymah Gbowee has asserted supra, defines this editorial.

    For even the very President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself had already tacitly indicted Samukai ipso facto her question to General George and Samukai. “The former President wanted to know if the unrelated expenditure was used for personal gain by Hon. Samukai.“

    “Gen. George also testified that following the completion of the internal investigation report, a meeting was convened by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to ascertain the findings contained in the report.“

    “After the completion of this report, it was forwarded to the former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the President of Liberia. The former president sent for a team to enable us to discuss this report and those present in the meeting were Brownie Samukai (then Minister of defense), late Fredrick Cherue, Former chief of Staff Ziankahn, Sgt. Manqueh Cooper and the present deputy Chief of staff Geraldine George.”

    Witness George adds: “The former President wanted to know if the unrelated expenditure was used for personal gain by Hon. Samukai. That was the question she posed to the chairperson of the board, Geraldine George. I told the former president (Ellen) that I do not know whether funds were used for personal gain because my term of reference did not say whether we should find out whether funds were used for personal gain.”

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