Members of the Lofa County Legislative Caucus have embarked on a campaign to deliver former Defense Minister J. Brownie Samukai from his political predicament.
The Supreme Court of Liberia handed down a two-year prison sentences to Mr. Samukai along with his deputies Joseph Johnson and James Nyuman Ndokor after they failed to return over US$1 million worth of stolen money from a government pension account.
But days after the ruling, Lofa County Electoral District Five Representative Cllr. Beyen Howard admitted to conceding defeat and therefore on their
knees seeking pardon for their kinsman, though yet to be seen since the ruling.
According to Representative Howard, they took the decision as a group of lawmakers, including Senator Steve Zargo, Clarence Massaquoi and Francis Sakila Nyumalin when they held a meeting at the Farmington Hotel and now decide to appeal to President George Weah to pardon Mr. Samukai.
The lawmaker disclosed that as a start, they went to the home of Chief Zanzan Karwar, head of the National Tradfitional Council but were told he went on his farm where there is no GSM connectivitity.
However, Representative Howard made it known that they were proceeding to meet with Bishop Kortu Brown, President of the Inter-Religious Council, as part of their efforts to have Samukai pardoned.
Samukai, also Lofa County Senator-elect, was in the court as the ruling was being read on Thursday, January 27, 20222 but fled the building to apparently avoid being taken to jail.
The funds were stolen from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) pension account during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, when Samukai headed the Defense Ministry.
The three men were ordered by the court to pay the money within six months, but failed to do so. Therefore, the Supreme Court has ordered Samukai and his deputies be jailed for failing to honor the mandate of restitution.
The Supreme Court’s Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh said the convicts will remain in prison until the balance amount is paid in full for what she termed a ‘gross violation’.
The three were found guilty of theft of property, criminal conspiracy, and misuse of public money among others for embezzlement from the army’s compulsory savings account.
The ruling means Samukai will not be allowed to serve as Senator of Lofa County having being elected on December 20, 2021 on the ticket of the main opposition Unity Party (UP) and by extension the Collaboration Political Parties (CPP) after he was barred from taking his seat due to the guilty verdict of raiding the army coffers.
Soldiers whose money was stolen by the three former officials have welcomed the court ruling but supporters of Samukai have described the court’s ruling as a plot against the Lofa County Senator-elect. Supporters of Samuaki refer to a payment made on three separate checks, prior to the judgement, but the court maintains that as the three were convicted together, they must return the funds together.
While the court’s search for the three culprits took two years, many see the ruling as a new day in Liberia’s fight against corruption.