Liberia: Samukai’s Senatorial Journey Ends

Former defense minister and senator-elect J. Brownie Samukai’s quest to represent the people of Lofa in the Liberian Senate is aborted here as the National Elections Commission through its chairperson Cllr. Davidetta Brown-Lansanah mandates the elections magistrate for upper and lowers Lofa County to conduct fresh by-election for the county on May 10, 2022, while registration of aspirants ends April 1, 2022.

Mr. Samukai won the Lofa senatorial seat during the December 8, 2021, Special Senatorial Election, but was subsequently indicted along with two others, tried and convicted on five counts, including theft of property, criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, among others for misapplication of soldiers’ pension fund, totaling US$1,147,656.35.

He was accordingly mandated by the criminal court to pay 50 percent of the amount or face two years imprisonment, which he failed to meet up with. The Supreme Court of Liberia subsequently ordered Samukai and co-defendants incarcerated for two years for failure to comply with the court’s mandate.

But President George Manneh Weah recently asked the High Court to suspend the two-year sentence to enable Samukai and others to restitute the among of over US$1 million.

Notwithstanding, reading the insurant of writ of election to the magistrates of Lofa County, Madam Brown-Lansanah said the mandate is in keeping with Article 37 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia and also in response to a letter received from the Liberian Senate on February 16, 2022, notifying the NEC of a vacant set in the senate from Lofa County.

Whereas Article 37 of the Constitution states “In the existence of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, and explosion or otherwise, the presiding officers shall in 30 days notify the NEC thereof. The NEC shall, in not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held.”

” Whereas in keeping with the command of Article 37, I on behalf of the board of commissioners command you to issue election writ to the assigned election magistrate of Lower and Upper Lofa County to conduct a senatorial by-election in their respective assigned area”, the NEC boss instructed.

She mandates that said election shall be held on May 10, 2022, from 8:am to 6:00 Pm and that the magistrates shall satisfy her by endorsement upon this mandate at the close of counting votes as to the form and manner they execute the mandate.

“Finally, I do hereby direct that the last day for nomination of aspirants by registered political parties, alliances, coalition or independent aspirants for the said by-election shall end April 1, 2022, at 5:00 pm and for so this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority”, Chairperson Brown-Lansannah continues.

Receiving the election writ to conduct by-election in Lofa County, the senior magistrate of the county, Amos W. Kamara assures that both Upper and Lower Lofa County are again ready and prepared to execute the mandate of the chairperson and members of the board of commissioners of NEC to conduct the by-election.

“We want to assure you that your mandate will be executed and implemented as instructed. We will conduct free, fair and transparent elections within the timeframe and guidelines given to us as instructed”, Magistrate Kamara vows.

Despite his victory at the poll in December 2020, Samukai had encountered hurdles in taking his seat in the Senate, particularly after the Supreme Court of Liberia halted his certification by the NEC, becoming the first Liberian politician in recent history to win election but barred from being seated over criminal conviction.

He served as minister of defense during the entire two terms of ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first elected female president in Africa.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/senate-declares-samukais-seat-vacant/ Editing by Jonathan Browne

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