Lofa Residents ‘Hurt’ over Samukai Saga and Under-representation at the Liberian Senate
FOYA/ZORZOR DISTRICTS, Lofa County – Residents of Lofa County say they feel “hurt” by the under-representation of their county at the Liberian Senate, seven months after they elected Brownie Samukai as Senator.
They have been organizing series of peaceful protests at different locations in the county, days after Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe granted the Government of Liberia a petition to disallow the National Elections Commission (NEC) to certificate Samukai.
Associate Justice Nagbe last week ordered that Samukai will only be permitted to sit at the Legislature if his conviction is removed according to law.
“This is not about Samukai. It’s about the people of Lofa County. The county has and continues to miss a lot of developments through budgetary allotments because Samukai hasn’t taken his seat as senator of the county,” said Teddy Taylor, a chairperson of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Foya chapter 32-year-old motorcyclist.
Taylor alleged that Samukai’s certification has been delayed due to political interferences, influenced by people within the government.
Ma Hawa Massalay, Women Youth Wing of the CPP, described the Supreme Court’s ruling against Senator-elect Samukai as “provocative” and a “blatant” violation of Constitution of Liberia.
“This is an affront to the rights of the people of Lofa County to be represented in the Liberian Senate by their duly elected person of their choice,” Peters added. “We are calling on leader, chiefs and lawmakers of the county to join this effort in making sure that Lofa is fully represented at the Liberian Senate.”
Some Lofians (natives of Lofa County) want President George Weah to take seize of the matter and issue executive clemency for the sake of peace and reconciliation. Omara James of Voinjama District, says such decision when taken by the president would justify his ‘love’ for the people of the county.
“We know our president is the man of peace. We are all bended knees calling on him to see reason and pardon our senator-elect,” said James, 34. “If President Weah grants Samukai pardon in this case he can be assured of our fullest support in Lofa County in 2023. We will go all out an preach his goodwill just as we did for Samukai during the December 8 Special Senatorial elections.”
Kumba Torgbor, resident of Foya, shares similar view. ‘We would like to enter into an agreement with the President in this matter,” she told FrontPage Africa. “If he listens to us by prevailing on the NEC to certificate our senator, we will listen to him in 2023. This is not about Samukai, it’s about the people who elected him. Once our cries are heard we will support President Weah’s second term bid,’ she said why chanting slogans of President Weah.
Samukai and the road to the Senate
Samukai, of CPP, received the most votes in the December 8, 2020 senatorial election. Of the 11 candidates who vied for the Lofa County senatorial seat, Samukai received 20, 431 votes, followed by Independent candidate Cllr. Joseph Jallah with 13,968 votes.
Samukai 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 last week, 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 Supreme Court ruled that the sentence will be suspended if the defendants shall restitute the full amount of USD 1,147,456.35 or 50% thereof within the period of six months and plan with the court to pay the remaining portion in one year.
Failure to pay will result in the defendants’ incarceration in the common jail and there in until the full amount is paid or liquidated at the rate of 25 USD per month as provided by law, the Supreme Court ruled.