Liberia: NEC to Declare Samukai’s Victory in Lofa Void – Sources

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MONROVIA – An impeccable source has disclosed to FrontPageAfrica that the National Elections Commission (NEC) will declare a vacancy in Lofa County, which means Senator-elect Brownie Samukai will lose his seat.

Our source, however, didn’t disclose when NEC will declare the vacancy.

Samukai, of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), received the most votes in the elections. Of the 11 candidates who vied for the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial elections, Samukai received 20,431 votes, followed by Independent candidate Cllr. Joseph Jallah with 13, 968 votes.

But the former defense minister has experienced mixed rulings with the Supreme Court since he won the senatorial seat in Lofa.

On February 24, 2021, the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled in Samukai’s favor in the electoral dispute case filed by three of his rivals, claiming irregularities and fraud in Lofa County District No. 4.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Samukai and mandated to the NEC to proceed with the matter.

On February 8, 2021, the Supreme Court upheld a criminal court’s verdict in the corruption case involving Samukai and a former deputy minister and the former Comptroller at the Ministry of Defense.

On March 24, 2020, the Criminal Court “C’’ found Samukai, Joseph F. Johnson and former Deputy Minister for Administration and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of Defense guilty of misappropriating US$1.3 million from the Armed Forces compulsory contributing fund that was deposited at Ecobank Liberia.

Samukai and his lawyers appealed the case. In his ruling issued, Judge Yamie Gbeisay, said the government did not produce sufficient evidence to convict Samukai and his two deputy ministers of money laundering and economic sabotage.

But the Supreme Court in its decision upholding the lower court’s guilty verdict said all public officials and employees shall obey all lawful instructions issued to them by their supervisors and they shall be held liable and responsible for acts of commission or omission as in the case of the corruption verdict.

The court found: ‘’That the defendant is guilty of misuse of public fund when he disposes, use, or transfer any interest or property which is entrusted to him as of. 

“That there is unrefuted evidence gathered from the record of this case that the soldiers of the AFL compulsory contributed to the fund in the AFL pension account established at Ecobank Liberia LTD therefore the said account is not a public account intended for the ministry of national defense.

That there is evidence from the record showed that defendant Samukai over fiduciary of the soldiers of the AFL pension account.”

On July 9, 2021, Justice Joseph Nagbe granted the Government of Liberia’s request to order the National Elections Commission (NEC) to halt the certification of Samukai.

Associate Justice Nagbe said the petition for the writ of prohibition being properly applied for and taking into consideration the controlling laws cited, had been granted.

He ordered the clerk of the court to issue the peremptory writ of prohibition, send a mandate to the first respondent, NEC, disallowing the certification of the second respondent J. Brownie Samukai, Jr., until his disability imposed on him by his conviction is removed according to law.

It can be recalled, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice filed a writ of prohibition on March 29, 2021 to prevent Senator-elect Samukai, Jr. from being certificated by the National Elections Commission.

The delay in certificating Samukai has caused stir in Lofa County since his election victory. On July 30, 2021, thousands of people took to the streets of Voinjama City and other areas in Lofa County to protest the delay in the certification of Samukai.

Police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and reportedly attempted to lock the main entrance of the county’s administration hall.

In Voinjama, the county’s capital, the participants marched from Monrovia parking junction to the Administration Building, carrying signs saying “stop the manipulation” and “stop delaying our senator.”

There was a heavy police presence in Voinjama, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what Lofa County Superintendent William Tamba Kamba said was unauthorized protest activity. 

Police confirmed a number of arrests had been made after protesters reportedly attempted to lock the door of the Administration hall.

The police in the county said it recognized and supported the rights of peaceful assembly, but the protest later turned violent after local staffs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were reportedly prevented entry into the Administration hall.

“The priority for the Police is always the safety of the wider community,” William Johnson, Assistant Commissioner of Police said.

Making Lofa a sovereign state

And ahead of the NEC reported declaration of a by-election in the county, residents have threatened to make Lofa County a sovereign state by breaking away from Liberia.

The residents said the case has become more politically than legal, accusing the government of a ploy to deliberately  deny Samukai his seat.

“Even if we don’t complete the process our kids will continue the process, consultation with our brothers and sisters and other residents of Lofa in the Diaspora is ongoing and our elders and chiefs including traditional leaders have already consented” Jackson Fallah, a youth leader of the county, said.

“We have been marginalized by this government, we can’t continue like this, we need to be represented at the decision making table.”

“President Weah and his officials know what they are doing, and we the people of Lofa are watching, our unspecified action we will take in the soonest possible time will be harsh, including the declaration of our county as an independent state, Thomas Momo, a resident of Lofa County, said.

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