Monrovia — Lofa County Senator-elect Brownie Samukai heaved a sigh of relief Wednesday, February 24, 2021 as the Supreme Court upheld the ruling from the National Elections Commission (NEC) declaring him winner of the December 8 Special Senatorial elections.
By Selma Lomax, firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidates James K. Marley, Hamet Kromah and Gayflor Tarnue had petitioned the Supreme Court to halt Samukai’s election, claiming election fraud and irregularities.
But the three-member panel of the Supreme Court in its series of hearings and judgements delivered within three hours Wednesday said candidates Tarnue, Marley and Kromah were unable to prove the allegations of fraud and irregularities, which they claimed marred the exercise in District#4 in Lofa County.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing the ruling of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission which confirmed the ruling of the Hearing Officer is affirmed. The clerk of this court is ordered to send a mandate to the National Elections Commission to give effect to this judgement. Costs are ruled against the appellants. And it’s hereby so ordered,” the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
It has been a turbulent two months for Samukai since his overwhelming victory on December 8, 2021. Recently the same Supreme Court reaffirmed the verdict of the lower court convicting the Lofa County Senator-elect and two others to two years imprisonment or restitution of US$ 1.4 million.
It’s against the Court’s decision that Liberia’s Solicitor General, Cllr Syrenius Cephas is asking the election body not to certificate Samukai because he hasn’t restituted the US$1.4 million.
“You will recall that prior to the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial elections, Mr Samukai was found guilty by the lower court along with his co-conspirators for the same crimes. But took and appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, which automatically stayed the enforcement of the convicted judgement,” Cllr Cephas wrote the NEC.
Continuing, he added: “Therefore, the recent judgement by the Supreme Court of Liberia is not a novelty, and didn’t depart from the holding of the lower court’s judgement; which means Samukai together with his co-conspirators has been felon from the date the lower rendered judgement.”
“Accordingly, since the guilty judgement is the law controlling, and constitutes a finality of the matter, and by law is not appealable in this jurisdiction, it is considered my opinion that it will be inarguable allay any and all concerns that may arise, and you will therefore proceed not to certificate him.”
In contrast, the minister of justice Frank Musah Dean, at his Senate appearance, told the senators that he hasn’t seen the communication written by the Solicitor General but was informed about it on Facebook and has no idea about why the decision was made to write the Senate.
He opted not to comment on the matter when asked by Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon about whether he was aware of such letter, but rather referred the Senate to the Solicitor General, who he said could better respond to such inquiry.
Lofa citizens: A witch hunt
Residents of Lofa county last week denounced the move by the Supreme Court to request Samukai restitute US$1.4 million USD as the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician” under the presidency of George Mannah Weah.
According to a group of Lofa residents under the banner Movement of Lofa Residents in Solidarity with Samukai, the aim of all this is intended to “disgrace, intimidate and dehumanize Samukai through a mere propaganda and sensitional court case”.
“We are equally very disappointed and frustrated in the ruling handed down against Samukai. We, therefore, term this as politically-driven and a witch hunt against our leader,” the group’s statement said.
Lofa citizens’ anger at Supreme Court
The target of most of the citizens’ anger was Liberia’s Supreme Court, which the group accused of being out to disgrace Samukai.
“The manner in which the Judiciary Branch of our Government has been dispensing Justice in recent years, especially under the Weah-led government, has made Liberians to question the neutrality and integrity of that body,” the group said.
“During the trial, the Defense argued that they were authorized by the former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, then Commander-in-Chief of the AFL and presented an authorization letter to the effect. How then the former minister of defense was guilty of executing the order of the Commander-in Chief”?
“Let the word go forth that we, the thousands of Lofa citizens who believe in the Senator-elect and voted him overwhelmingly wish to inform the Supreme Court that we are against the ruling”