Liberia: Solicitor General Syrennius Cephus Instructs the National Elections Commission to Nullify Brownie Samukai’s Victory in the Senatorial Election

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MONROVIA – Solicitor General Syrenius Cephus has written the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) instructing her not to certificate Lofa County Senator-elect J. Brownie Samukai whose conviction by the lower court was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court.

But his instruction to the NEC comes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on the electoral dispute between the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and Mr. Samukai.

Samukai’s conviction has no relation to the December 8 Special Senatorial Elections.

The Supreme Court on February 8 affirmed the guilty verdict of the lower court that held Samukai, Liberia’s longest serving Defense Minister, and two of his principal lieutenants liable for the misuse of entrusted fund, misappropriation, theft of property, criminal conspiracy, etc, of the Armed Forces of Liberia’s fund in the tune of over US$1.1 million.

Samukai and his colleagues had argued that the money was used under the instruction of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia at the time. But the court believes that Samukai and his colleagues did not exercise professional discretion.

The trio have been ordered to restitute the amount of US$1.1 million – half of the amount within six months or face a two-year jail term.

However, Samukai’s supporters in Lof County who believe that the ruling against him is a mere witch hunt to prevent him from going to the Senate have said they’ll ensure that the county raises the money for restitution.

But as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the appeal filed by the ruling CDC to the Supreme Court after the NEC on February 5 reaffirmed Samukai as the winner of the senatorial election, the Solicitor General has instructed the NEC to refrain from certificating him as Senator of Lofa, terming him as a convict.

Cllr. Cephus’ letter to the Elections Commission Chairperson states, “You will recall that prior to the 8 December 2020 election, Mr. Samukai was found guilty by the lower court along with his co-conspirators for the same crimes. But took an appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, which automatically stayed the enforcement of the convicted judgement.”

“Therefore, the recent judgement by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia is not a novelty, and did not depart from the holding of the lower court’s judgement; instead, it confirmed the lower court’s judgement, which means Mr. Samukai together with his co-conspirators has been a convicted felon from the date the lower court rendered its judgement in 2020.”

“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.”

Legal pundits have argued that there is no law that stops an elected Senator from taking office after he has been elected to office.

Montserrado County Senator and a member of the Collaborating Political Parties of which Mr. Samukai is a member, Abraham Darius Dillon, has questioned the authority of the Solicitor General to instruct the NEC not to certificate a duly elected Senator.

Mr. Samukai is yet to comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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