Justice Minister Writes NEC To Halt Brownie Samukai’s Certification

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The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Jr., has written the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, requesting that she puts a halt to the certification of the Senator-elect of Lofa County, J. Brownie Samukai, in conforming to the nation’s legal jurisprudence.

   Minister Dean’s communication to the NEC is purposely to halt Samukai’s certification, based on the Supreme Court recently upholding the judgment of the lower court, which held him liable of misusing funds from the Armed Forces of Liberia’s pension account. According to the Minister, Liberian law forbids a convicted felon from holding any public office until the felon serves his jail term or satisfies all the penalties prescribed by the court.

   The communication, dated March 1, 2021 and signed by Minister Dean, noted that, in consistent with Section 3.32 of the New Elections Law, a person convicted with felony, committed in connection with his employment as a public servant, is not qualified to hold any public office until the sentence, prescribed by the court, is served and/or the individual satisfies any other penalty imposed by the court.

   In his letter, Cllr. Dean noted, “We present our compliments and, consistent with Section 3.23 of the New Elections Law, herewith inform you of the attached final judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, affirming the judgment of guilt against Messrs. J. Brownie Samukai, Joseph J. Johnson and Nyumah Dorkor, for the commission of the crimes of theft of property, misuse of public money and criminal conspiracy.

Senator-elect of Lofa County

   “Further, may we inform you, it is the law extant in our jurisdiction that any person convicted of a felony, committed in connection with his employment as a public servant, is disqualified from holding public office until the sentence is served and/or the satisfaction of any other penalty imposed. For reliance, please see Penal Law, 41CLR, title 26, Section 50.12(b) (1976), and 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 21 (j).”

   Early yesterday morning, citizens of Lofa County assembled in front of the NEC headquarters to mount pressure on the election body to swiftly certificate their kinsmen, who won the December 8, 2020 senatorial by-election in Lofa County. A representative of Lofa County went at the scene and addressed the protesters, informing them that they were pursuing all avenues to ensure that their senator-elect is certificated.

   The Minister of Justice’s communication is seen by many as a blow in the face of those advocating and agitating that Samukai be certificate without delay.

   Earlier this week, the National Legislature invited the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Dean, and the Solicitor General, Sayma Serenius Cephus, to provide clarity on the statement coming out of their ministry that Samukai should not be certificated because he was a convicted felon. However, now that the letter has finally reached the desk of the NEC boss, observers are saying that Samukai may be forced to immediately restitute the AFL funds or be retarded in his quest to taking his seat at the Liberian Senate.

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