Liberia: Supreme Court Halts Samukai's Certification As Senator of Lofa County

Monrovia — Lofa County Senator-elect, J. Brownie Samukai, suffered another setback in his quest to take seat the Capitol when Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe ordered a prohibition on his certification as prayed for by the chairman of the Movement for Progressive Change.

Justice Nagbe stated that contrary to the Samukai's argument, at no time did the Supreme Court order the National Elections Commission (NEC) to certificate Mr. Samukai, rather the initial instruction was for the NEC to announce the final result from the election.

Justice Nagbe further detailed that the certification is being put on hold because Samukai is now a convict and there is a law prohibiting convicts from serving public office.

Justice Nagbe in the ruling stated that Article 21(j) of the Constitution which states that "any person who, upon conviction of a criminal offense was deprived of the enjoyment of his civil rights and liberties, shall have the same automatically restored upon serving the sentence and satisfying any other penalty imposed, or upon an Executive pardon."

The Court disagreed with Mr. Samukai's argument that though the Supreme Court affirmed the final ruling of the lower court for the crimes charged against him, but the court's sentence that he be incarcerated for two years was suspended and under the suspension he is a free citizen whose liberty including to occupy a public office cannot be taken from him.

The ruling: "The law extant requires that any official of government, whether the Legislature, Executive or Judiciary, must take oath before taking upon the duties of the office to which he/she is being elected or appointed. Chapter XIII, Schedule 2 of the 1986 Constitution provides thus: "all office public officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, holding office of public trust, shall subscribe to a solemn oath or affirmation as follows: I, do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support, uphold, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia, bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic, and will faithfully, conscientiously and impartially discharge the duties and functions of the office... to the best of my ability. SO HELP ME GOD."

"This Court says if NEC were to proceed to certificate Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, Jr. as Senator-elect of Lofa County, he would be seated as a Senator who was convicted by the court and which conviction has imposed on him a disability that can be removed by serving the sentence and fully satisfying the penalty. Suspended sentence by operation of law does not validate crime so committed."

Justice Nagbe further noted that Section 50.12 and Article 21(j) of the Constitution requires that Mr. Samukai must forfeit the holding of a public office until the sentence is fully satisfied, that is, the amount of US$1,147,656.35 is fully restituted by the defendants including Mr. Samukai.

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