Unknown Persons Throw Petrol Bomb At Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Nagbe Amid Brownie Samukia’s Corruption Fracas

Following report that the Supreme Court of Liberia has temporarily halted the certification of the former Defense Minister, J. Brownie Samukai who was declared winner of the just ended December 8, 2020 Senatorial Elections by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as Senator of Lofa County, a petrol Bomb has reportedly been thrown at one of justices at the Supreme Court, Cllr. Joseph Nagbe by unknown persons late yesterday evening at his residence. According to report, there were no casualty following the throwing of the petrol bomb.

The high court’s action has been triggered by a petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed the Political chairman of the Movement for Progressive Change O’Neil Paasewe on Tuesday March 2, 2021.

Samukai is the candidate of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and he has been battling a legal suit in which he was convicted by the Criminal Court C for corruption, a verdict which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.

The writ of prohibition was issued by the Supreme Court justice in Chambers Joseph N. Nagbe on March 5, 2021 to the NEC.

The writ of prohibition states that by directive of his Honor Joseph N. Nagbe, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, you are hereby cited to a conference with his Honor on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at the hour of 2pm in connection with the above captioned case.

Meanwhile, you are hereby ordered to stay all further proceedings and or actions in the matter, pending the outcome of the conference.

On February 24, 2021, the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled in favor of CPP candidate Brownie Samukai in an electoral dispute case where three of his rivals claimed that there were Election irregularities and fraud in Lofa County District #4. But the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Samukai and sent the mandate to the NEC to proceed with the matter.

Following this recent ruling by the Supreme Court, it has triggered many reactions from legal practitioners with the Ministry of Justice sending two separate communications to the NEC not to proceed with the Certification of the CPP candidate Brownie Samukai.

In the midst of this legal tussel involving the CPP’s candidate, citizens residing both Lofa and Monrovia have vowed to stage an Uncontrollable actions against the CDC led government and the NEC.

The fate of Liberia’s former Defense Minister, who was declared Lofa County Senator-elect, continues to hang in the balance, as the Supreme Court of Liberia today, Monday, February 8, 2020 upheld the lower Criminal ‘C’ conviction against him for corruption during his tenure in the former Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime.

He ran and won the Senate seat on the opposition CPP ticket in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial election, a victory upheld by the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission, after a series of challenges by some of his opponents from Lofa.

The nation’s highest upheld and modified the criminal court C ruling involving the former Defense Minister and one of his deputies and the Comptroller, saying that “the law extant in this jurisdiction that a person is guilty of theft of property when he knowingly takes misappropriates, coverts or exercises unauthorized control over or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in the property of another with the purpose of depriving the owner there of.”.

Background to Samukai’s court case

The Criminal Court ‘C’ on Tuesday March 24, 2020 found former Liberian Samukai and his deputies guilty of corruption, but Defense Lawyers took exception to the ruling and announced that they will file Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Samukai had been facing trial for misappropriating some US$1.3 million. His leadership of the Armed Forces of Liberia had received huge amounts for the AFL’s Compulsory Contributing Fund, which the Government of Liberia had sent to the Ecobank Liberia, Ltd. It included US460, 000.00 in addition to US$687,656.35, making a total sum of US$1,147,665.35.

But the Lower Court, presided over by Judge Yamie Gbeisay, said there has not been sufficient evidence to convict the former Defense officials of the crimes of Money laundering and Economic Sabotage.

In its February 8, 2021 ruling upholding the lower court’s guilty verdict and sentencing, the Supreme Court said it is also the law extant in this jurisdiction that all public officials and employees shall obey all lawful instructions issued to them by their supervisors and shall declines to obey orders they know or ought to know to be wrong or unlawful

Consequently, the Liberian high court said officials and employees of government who are adjudged to have one unlawful order shall be held personally responsible and liable for their acts of Commission or omission as in the instant case.

That the defendant is guilty of misuse of public fund when he disposes, use or transfer any interest or property which is entrusted to him as of;

That there is unrefuted evidence gathered from the record of this case that the soldiers of the AFL compulsory contributed to the fund in the AFL pension account established at Ecobank Liberia LTD therefore the said account is not a public account intended for the ministry of national defense.

That there are evidence from the record showed that defendant Samukai over fiduciaryof the soldiers of the AFL pension account.

Wherefore in view of the foregoing, the final judgement of the trial court judge is hereby affirmed with modification.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has ruled that that Samukai and the other defendants are all hereby sentenced to serve a term of two years each in a jail.

However, the high court’s ruling says the sentence shall be suspended provided the said defendants shall restitute the full amount of USD 1,147,456.35 or 50% there of within the period of six months and thereafter enter appropriate arrangements to pay the remaining portion in one year shall the defendants fail.

If they refuse to pay the remaining portions in one year, the defendants shall be incarcerated 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’s ruling added.

Facing the lower court, former Minister Samukai and the two other former Defense officials were represented in the trial by Cllr. G. Wiefueh Alfred Saye, Cllr. J. Augustine Toe and Cllr. Ruth Jappah.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. Mr. Samukai said:

“The Ministry of National defense authorized the expenditure of funds from this account on the soldiers’ welfare without the requisite consent of the AFL high command; and that all monies spent on military personnel welfare should not have been handled by and through the government normal budgetary appropriation and not from the AFL account.”

 

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