By Grace Q. Bryant
The Supreme of Liberia has ruled in favor of Mr. J. Browine Samukai to contest the senatorial seat in Lofa County after the consortium of some Lofa Citizens prayed to stop his bid.
According to the high court, the originators did not provide legal basis and citations to enable the court stop Samukai from contesting the upcoming election.
It can be recalled that in the NEC’s ruling, the Chief Dispute Hearing Officer, Muanah Ville, ruled that the Consortium of Lofa Citizens had no constitutional or legal basis to pray the NEC to disallow Samukai from contesting the December 8 polls.
The National Elections Commission ruled that a complaint from the Consortium of Lofa Citizens requesting that former Defense Minister Samukai be barred from contesting the senatorial election had no merit and as such, the request was denied.
In a majority ruling, the Board of Commissioners also said that the complainants’ case against Samukai had no merit, therefore, the group’s request for NEC to deny Samukai the opportunity to contest the pending December 8, 2020 election cannot be granted under any circumstance.
The ruling from the electoral body’s Board of Commissioners was a resounding victory for Samukai whose senatorial ambition had been hanging since his conviction early this year by Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, for an alleged theft of US$1,147,656.35 from the soldiers’ welfare fund account at the Ecobank-Liberia, along with accomplice Joseph P. Johnson, his former deputy for administration.
Based upon the court’s ruling, the Consortium of Lofa Citizens further petitioned NEC to deny Samukai the opportunity to contest the election since he had been convicted of a crime.
However, the NEC Board of Commissioners, upholding its chief dispute hearing officer’s ruling, explained that the acceptance letter of Co-Appellee, Brownie J. Samukai of the Collaborating Political Parties, qualifying him and placing his name on the listing of qualified aspirants/candidates to contest the December 8, 2020 midterm elections, “is hereby confirmed and affirmed.”
Reading the Board’s decision, the NEC’s Co-chairperson, Cllr. P. Teplah Reeves informed the complainants that their action to deny their request was based on the criminal procedure law of the country that prohibits the enforcement of any court judgment while an appeal has been filed at the Supreme Court.
“Section 24.6 of the Criminal Procedure Law states that the taking of an appeal shall stay the enforcement of the judgment, sentence or order from which the appeal is taken and arrest all further proceedings pending a decision on the appeal,” Cllr. Reeves said.
According to Cllr. Reeves, the Board of Commissioners’ decision was in conformity with a Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 20 of the Liberian Constitution, which states that on “Announcement of an appeal of a judgment, nor shall any proceeding be taken for its enforcement until final judgment is rendered.”
Article 20 of the Constitution states that: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law. Justice shall be done without sale, denial or delay; and in all cases not arising in courts not of record, under courts-martial and upon impeachment, the parties shall have the right to trial by jury.”
The NEC’s Chief Dispute Hearing Officer Ville said the Consortium of Lofa Citizens was in fact not a legally registered organization as they portrayed themselves to be and that Samukai is not a convict because he is not in jail.
Samukai Gets Green Light To Contest In Lofa
By Grace Q. Bryant