Liberia: ‘No Money Converted to Personal Use’ – Amry Chief of Staff Vindicates Ex-Defense Minister

AFL Chief of Staff Gen. Prince C. Johnson walking out of the court (Criminal Court ‘C’) after testifying in the case

Monrovia – The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Major General Prince C. Johnson, has testified in open court that he has no idea as to whether the fund withdrawn for the AFL pension account, was used by defendant Brownie J. Samukai and his two former deputies, Joseph P. Johnson and J. Nyumah Dorkor, for personal benefits.

Gen. Johnson made the statement on Tuesday, February 25, when he took the witness stand to testify for the state.

“Concerning personal use about the three mentioned names (Samukai, Johnson and Dorkor) to their personal account, I see nothing in what I have here according to this document (Internal Investigative Report of the Ministry of Defense). I have no idea whether it (AFL Money) was personally used or not. I have no idea,” Gen. Johnson testified.

Chief of Staff Johnson was subpoenaed on Monday, February 24, to testify against former Defense Minister Samukai.

However, he was restricted to testify to his name as signatory ‘B’ on the AFL Pension Account/AFL Welfare and Morale Account.

The Chief of Staff was summoned on Monday, February 24, along with Defense Minister Daniel D. Ziankahn.

But the Defense Minister did not appear to testify; however, he (Minister Ziankahn) is expected to testify today, Wednesday February 26, to his name as signatory ‘A’ to the AFL Savings Account.

Meanwhile, Gen. Johnson also testified that he is aware that the government of Liberia had promised to pay back the money to the army.

“Mr. witness (Johnson), do you confirm or are you aware of whether or not payments in the nature of reimbursement or restitution was to be made by the Government through budgetary allotment, appropriation, allocation in the national budget of the Government of Liberia?” the defense lawyer asked.

In response, Gen. Johnson said, “Yes, I am aware of the recommendation,” Johnson answered.

Gen. Johnson also testified that the AFL pension account was changed in October 2017 to the AFL Welfare and Morale Account.

“In 2017 around October, my boss now Minister of Defense, retired Major General Daniel D. Ziankahn, received a letter addressed to the manager of EcoBank under the signature of former Deputy Minister Johnson about the change of the AFL pension account to the AFL Morale and Welfare Account.”

Gen. Johnson continued: “The next thing was why we are changing the name of the account from AFL Pension Account to AFL Morale and Welfare Account, my meeting ended without some of the clarifications from the Deputy Minister (Johnson).”

Gen. Johnson further testified that there was no policy governing the AFL pension account during the period Defendants Samukai and his two former deputies were signatories to the account.

“Concerning whether there was any policies concerning the account, there were nothing. No policy except between October to December, when the AFL High Command was included on the signatory of the account. In there, we had as “A” signature, Hon. Samukai, Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff of AFL, Gen. Ziankahn, and signatory “B”. The policy was, you have “A” signatory and “B” signatory.

Johnson further testified: “When it (account) was established in 2009 as a young officer, I had no idea concerning this policy, meaning the way the military works, the higher authority to include the Minister of Defense and the High command of the AFL made decision.”

Meanwhile, Defendants Samukai and his two former deputies — Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Controller — were indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in October 2019 for the alleged commission of the crimes of misuse of public money, theft of property, money laundering, economic sabotage and criminal facilitation.

But they pleaded not guilty to the crimes when they were arraigned before the court (Criminal Court “C”).