President Weah Grants Clemency To 500 Inmates, As Brownie Samukai Jail Sentence Suspended

The Liberian leader, President George Weah has issued a proclamation granting clemency, ordering the Ministry of Justice to pardon five (500) hundred inmates where applicable, a statement read by Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill says.

In the proclamation, President Weah said those expected to be pardoned are those who committed misdemeanor and capital offenses. But Rapists and Armed Robbers are not included.

The President has also ordered the Suspension of the two-year prison sentence imposed on Mr. Brownie J. Samukai.

The President of Liberia, pursuant to Article 59 of the 1986 Constitution which vests in him the power and authority to grant reprieves, suspend fines, sentences and pardon anyone convicted and sentenced for a crime has, with immediate effect, ordered the suspension of the two (2) year prison sentence imposed on Mr. Brownie J. Samukai, following his conviction by the Supreme Court of Liberia; with the proviso that he (Brownie J. Samukai) will work with the Ministry of Justice to enter a stipulation for the full settlement of the Armed Forces of Liberia money.

The President has directed the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to make full payment of the outstanding balance of the AFL money, while Mr. Samukai is going through the Stipulation Payment Agreement.

As Liberians joyously celebrate 200 years of existence as a nation and people, the President has further directed the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General to submit to his Office a list of persons to be pardoned during these festive celebrations.

The President has also called on all Liberians to reconcile their differences and transform Liberia into a haven of peace. Courtesy: Executive Mansion.

It can be recalled the Supreme Court of Liberia recently ordered the incarceration of Lofa County Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai and co-defendants for two years for their failure to comply with the mandate of the court – that’s to pay 50 percent of the judgment sum in the tone of $ 537, 828, 15 (five hundred seventy three thousand eight hundred twenty eight dollars) within the period of six months.

The court said Samukai and co-defendants would serve for two years imprisonment and pay the full judgment amount of $ 1,147, 656.35, less than the amounts already paid by them. The Supreme Court said: “Upon their failure to pay, they shall remain in prison until the full balance is liquidated at the amount of $25 per month.

The Supreme Court in its ruling said that the law provides that “where criminal defendants are jointly adjudged guilty of a crime, they are together considered collectively responsible for any fine or penalty until the Judgment is fully satisfied”.

“That Judge A. Blamo Dixon inappropriately executed the Mandate of the Supreme Court when he relied on the ruling of Judge Yamie Gbeisay (which had been modified by this court) and apportioned the judgement amount of $147, 656, 35 among the three respondents and ordered that each respondents, including the co-respondent J. Brownie Samukai, pays his share of the judgement amount  of 50 percent which he calculated to be $191, 276, 05, the judge is clearly in error and hence the bill of Information will lie.”

“Given the clear language of the February 8, 2021 of the Supreme Court regarding the joint liability of restituting the judgment amount, the payment by Samukai in the amount of $191, 276,05, can’t be considered as compliance with the Mandate of the Supreme Court,” the court said.

Meanwhile, residents of Lofa County had denounced the move as the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician” under the presidency of George Weah.

According to a group of Lofa residents under the banner Movement Lofa Citizens in Solidarity with Samukai, the aim of all this is intended to “disgrace, intimidate and dehumanize Samukai through a mere propaganda and sensational court case”.

“We are equally very disappointed and frustrated in the ruling handed down against Samukai. We, therefore, term this as politically-driven and a witch hunt against our leader,” the group’s statement said.

“Document showing payment of medical bills for Armed Forces of Liberia Sergeant, Titus, who got wounded in peacekeeping mission in Mali and was flown to India for medical treatment, which cost over US$ 100, 000 was paid and further payments made for his upkeep,” the group’s statement said.

“Titus was dying and he was a soldier wounded in the process of serving his country. Would you have loved him to die, what if Titus were the Chief Justice’s son or the president’s son? How can the former minister of defense pay such a money, if this is not witch-hunt?’

Addressing reporters, the citizens said the dossier containing the allegations of the misapplication of pension funds of the Armed Forces of Liberia was a hoax which had been dreamt up by the Executive Branch to harm the reputation of Samukai.

“Brownie Samukai has never been involved in any act of corruption since 30 years when he started working in public service. We see him as an innocent victim of a politically motivated and selective justice case,” said  the group’s statement.

The group claimed the ruling against Samukai wss more political than legal because of his reported refusal to join the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President Weah prior to the December 8 Special Senatorial Election.

“Before the election last year the CDC made several attempts to lure Samukai to the CDC but he refused and that’s why angering the Executive Branch through the Supreme Court to dehumanize our Senator-elect,” the group said.

The target of most of the citizens’ anger was Liberia’s Supreme Court, which the group accused of being out to disgrace Samukai. “The manner in which the Judiciary Branch of our Government has been dispensing Justice in recent years, especially under the Weah-led government, has made Liberians to question the neutrality and integrity of that body,” the group said.

“During the trial, the Defense argued that they were authorized by the former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, then Commander-in-Chief of the AFL and presented an authorization letter to the effect. How then the former minister of defense was guilty of executing the order of the Commander-in Chief”?”Let the word go forth that we, the thousands of Lofa citizens who believe in the Senator-elect and voted him overwhelmingly wish to inform the Supreme Court that we are against the ruling”.

Much of the group’s 900-word rants against President Weah appeared to be resolved around warning the president “not to temper with the peace being enjoyed by Liberians”.

Now that President Weah has pardoned Samukai and his co-defendants, political pundits believe the move by the President is intended to score political gains on the eve of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections as well as smoke a peace pipe with the people of Lofa County, who never voted him to the presidency.

It remains to be seen what happens politically in Lofa County now their senator-elect is now off the hook but it is unclear if he the National Elections Commission will certificate him in order to represent his people at the House of Senate.

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About Cholo Brooks 17512 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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