Liberia: Supreme Court Clears Brownie Samukai to Contest Lofa Senatorial Race

Monrovia — Former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, convicted of economic sabotage, is now free to contest the December 8, 2020 Senatorial Election in Lofa County.

Samukai got the green light on Tuesday to contest when the Supreme Court denied a petition filed against his registration by Korvah Jorgbor seeking the Supreme Court to pronounced him ineligible for the Lofa County upcoming senatorial elections due to his conviction by the lower court.

Jorgbor through his lawyer Cllr. Thompson Jarba took an appeal to the Supreme Court in October 2020 against the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) decision to dismiss his challenge against Samukai.

The NEC Board of Commissioners claimed that Jarba's petition to the Board was filed against the election laws that says that Jarba failed to perfect his appeal within two days in keeping with the 2020 Candidate nomination procedures promulgated by NEC.

Jarba, prior to the NEC Board of Commissioners' decision to dismiss his petition, told FrontPageAfrica judicial reporter that the action of the Board of Commissioners to dismiss his request was wrong and therefore was going to take an appeal to the high court for redress.

"NEC action is unjust we will not sit here and see someone who is convicted to come out to contest for senatorial seat only the Supreme Court will inteprete the law" said Jarba.

Reacting to Jarba's claim, lawyer representing Samukai responded that Jarba wants to circumvent the election law.

"The election law says that failure on the part of challenger to perfect an appeal warrants dismissal," said Cllr. Augustine Fayiah.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor reading out the Bench's opinion on the matter on stated that having carefully reviewed the records, heard the arguments and contentions advanced by the counsels representing the parties considered the laws cited and relied upon, it was adjudged that NEC is an autonomous regulatory body of government charged with the responsibility to conduct public elections in the Republic of Liberia.

The Chief Justice added that the NEC has the further responsibility to develop regulations, guidelines and procedures governing processes leading to elections and as such regulations, guidelines and procedures, if not in conflict with the Constitution or statutes of Liberia are binding and carry the force and effect of law.

According to the Chief Justice, the Election Law makes no provision for pre-election complaints, challenges and appeals, pursuant to the authority given to NEC to develop regulations, guidelines and procedures governing processes leading to elections, the NEC promulgated the regulation on candidate nomination which provides that a challenger or the challenged aspirant/candidate may appeal a decision from the Board of Commissioners of NEC to the Supreme Court within two days of said decision.

He stated further that the provisions of the Elections Law directing that an appeal be taken from the Board of Commissioners of NEC to the Supreme Court in seven days apply to post elections challenges and not a pre-election challenge to a candidate nomination as in the instant case.

Chief Justice Korkpor continued that the failure of Jarba to perfect his appeal within two days in keeping with the 2020 Candidate Nomination Procedures promulgated by NEC is a proper ground for the dismissal of the said appeal.

"Wherefore and in view of the foregoing the ruling of the Board of Commissioners of NEC dismissing the appellants' appeal is affirmed, the Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to send a mandate to the National Elections Commissions to proceed and enforce its ruling from hence this appeal emanated, costs are ruled against the appellants, it is so ordered," Chief Justice Korkpor stated.

Former Defense Minister Samukai, Former Deputy For Administration Joseph Johnson and Former Comptroller Nyumah Dorkor were found guilty by the lower court on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 for theft of property, misused of public money and criminal conspiracy

All three Defendants who have gone on trial for soldiers pension money were asked to restitute the amount of US$687,656.38 to Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) pension savings account and US$460,000 to the Government account.

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