MONROVIA – Lofa County district # 1 Representative Francis S. Nyumalin has warned officials of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah against stealing tax payers’ monies to initiate projects or programs in the county to win the minds of citizens ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections in Liberia.
Representative Nyumalin dispelled speculations and claims being raised by some executives and stalwarts of the ruling party that the CDC has politically captured Lofa.
Sometimes ago, a National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the ruling CDC, Representative Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County, claimed that Lofa was now under the control of the CDC following his recent visit to the county.
But Representative Nyumalin pointed out that Lofa remains a “bank vote” county for former Liberian Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who is the Standard Bearer of the Unity Party (UP)-one of the political parties that make up the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
He made these assertions when he appeared as guest on the OK Morning Rush Show in Monrovia on Wednesday, January 12.
Representative Nyumalin noted that those contemplating on stealing state resources to convince citizens and residents of Lofa to join or vote for the CDC come 2023 are mistaken, because the county remains “in tight” politically for Mr. Boakai.
He observed that over the years, Lofa has been allegedly deprived infrastructural and other developments by the government because of the decision citizens of the county took during the 2017 general and presidential elections.
“There have been claims and claims on the part of the ruling establishment that the CDC has taken over Lofa County. Whether or not the CDC has taken over Lofa county; let all of us wait until October 2023. The tallies from the various polling centers will determine whether CDC has taken over”.
“All I can tell emphatically is that, there is something that is called bank vote. Lofa County remains the bank vote for the man Joseph Nyemah Boakai. Anybody thinking that you can steal money and infuse it in whatever program or project in Lofa-at the end of the day you will realize that Lofa remains the most traditional county in this republic”.
On Samukai issue
In February 2021, the Supreme Court of Liberia upheld a lower court’s ruling against Senator-elect J. Brownie Samukai and two other co-appellants and sentenced them to two years in prison each for misapplication of US$1.1 million intended for the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
However, the court ruled that the prison terms could be suspended if the convicts restitute 50 percent of the fund within six months and make full payment within a year.
Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’ in March 2020 ruled him and two of his co-defendants, Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration and James Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of Defense guilty of the crimes of theft of property, misuse of public money and criminal conspiracy and awarded them separate prison terms. Mr. Samukai was given a higher two-year prison sentence, while his co-defendants were given six months jail terms each but with a condition that their sentences shall be suspended if they all restitute the amount of US$1.1 million in question over a one-year period.
A summary of the prosecution, in this case the Government of Liberia’s argument is that defendant Samukai and his co-defendants had no authority to use the AFL pension funds; that in fact said funds were private funds; and that the defendants issued checks in their own names for personal benefits.
But the Defendants took appeal at the Supreme Court and they (serving now as appellants), justified that they acted in line with the Constitution and relevant laws. They claimed that they acted on the orders of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to procure materials and render other services for the soldiers. They claimed that US$50,000 was paid on the instruction of former President Sirleaf as death benefits to the families of the late General Abdurrahman, the Nigerian army officials who served as the first post war first Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, who was declared the winner of the senatorial by-election in Lofa on December 8, 2020, has not been certificated by the National Elections Commission (NEC) since the ruling was upheld by the High Court.
But Representative Nyumalin blamed the executive and judicial branches of the government for preventing Mr. Samukai from taking his seat at the Liberian Senate.
He recalled that though the candidacy of Mr. Samukai was previously challenged, the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, qualified him to contest the election.
Representative Nyumalin maintained that after his election was affirmed by the court, a “little known political party” he considered as a “surrogate” to the government filed another complaint challenging the election of his kinsman.
He said the court’s mandate for Mr. Samukai to pay the 50% of the money which was misapplied has already been met, but wondered while the case is still dragging.
Citizens of Lofa County in and out of Liberia raised and paid the amount of US$ 173,276.05 to the court on behalf of Mr. Samukai.
But a bill of information which was filed by the government calls for the joint payment of the money by Mr. Samukai and the others.
Representative Nyumalin added that the Supreme Court has been informed about the action, but it has not yet made a determination on the matter.
“Lofa is all that we have and so, we will not get tire of talking about Lofa. But this time around, I want to shift the blame from the executive to the judiciary when it comes to the issue of Senator-elect Brownie Samukai”.
So much interest
Representative Nyumalin observed that the government, through the Ministry of Justice has taken so much interest in the case involving his kinsman Samukai.
“The MOJ is saying that Brownie Samukai should pay for all three of them. This is what the Supreme Court listened to. But the ruling is taking another two months. The Supreme Court needs to tell us clearly what the disability is. The Supreme Court has no authority to declare any seat vacate”.
President George Manneh Weah is expected to give his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Liberian people via the National Legislature in keeping with Article 58 of the 1986 Liberian constitution.
Article 58 states that: “The President shall, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session, and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic the report shall cover expenditure as well as income”.
But Representative Nyumalin disclosed that members of the Lofa County legislative caucus have resolved to boycott the SONA.
He is the Co-Chair of the county’s legislative caucus, while Senator Steve Zargo is the Chairman.
He blamed the decision taken by them to alleged marginalization of the county by the Weah led-government.
“You are quite correct. Our county has been marginalized so much and we must let this government know that we are feeling the pinch and we will do so in every respect. The Lofa County Legislative Caucus has taken a decision to boycott the SONA this year. Our boycott is to also let the Liberian know that we are not satisfied”.
Representative Nyumalin placed emphasis on the bad road conditions in the county and the appointment of “babies” to serve within various local governance positions in the county.
“We have trouble in almost every part of our county with the exception of one or two districts from the 11 administrative districts in Lofa. President Weah didn’t appoint any Krahn, Kru, Bassa man or different people in Lofa”.
He noted that the Weah led-government continues to appoint chiefs, commissioners and others in Lofa without the consent of the county’s legislative caucus.
Representative Nyumalin maintained that though it remains the constitutional responsibility for the Liberian Chief Executive to appoint his government officials, the culture which was introduced by ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should be upheld by President Weah.
He recalled that Madam Sirleaf previously held consultations with the county’s legislative caucus and other major stakeholders before appointing citizens to various local positions in Lofa.
He noted that this was previously done in the past for the sake of coordination and cooperation.