By Grace Q. Bryant
The Justice-in-Chambers, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, has granted the Government of Liberia’s Writ of Prohibition disallowing the National Election Commission (NEC) to certificate Brownie Samukai as senator-elect of Lofa County
In his ruling, Justice Nagbe stated that the petition for the Writ of Prohibition being properly applied for and taking into consideration the controlling laws cite, it is hereby granted and also ordered the clerk of the court to issue the peremptory writ of prohibition with a mandate to the NEC disallowing the certification Samukai until the disability imposed on him by his conviction is removed in accordance with law.
The government through the Ministry of Justice filed for a Writ Of Prohibition on March 29, 2021, to prevent Lofa County Senator-Elect Samukai from being certificated after being announced seven months ago by the same National Elections Commission as the winner of the December 8, 2020 senatorial election and mandated by the same Supreme Court earlier to carry out the certification process.
In the Government of Liberia’s petition filed, it stated that Mr. Samukai being a convicted felon makes him incompetent to occupy any public office in keeping with Section 3.1 and 3.23 of the new Elections Law and Section 50.12 of the new Penal Law of Liberia, indicating that its contention is grown out of the Advisory Opinion to the National Elections Commission declaring Samukai a disenfranchised citizen.
According to the petition, the National Elections Commission is stopped by law from certificating Samukai who was convicted by the First Judicial Circuit Court for Montserrado County, Criminal Court ‘C’ for the crimes of Theft of Property, Criminal Conspiracy and the Misuse of Public Funds; and reminded the Supreme Court of affirming the lower court’s decision on February 8, 2021 following an appeal filed before the same court.
The government further said that as much as Samukai has not served the sentence or satisfied the penalty imposed as required by Article 21(j) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, he is precluded from exercising his basic fundamental rights and civil liberties which includes the rights to public services as a matter of law.
Citing Section 50.12 of the new Penal Law which states “A person convicted of any of the crimes or listed below or any attempt or conspiracy to commit such crime or its facilitation shall forfeit any public office and may be disqualified from any or all specified public offices or category that five years following the completion of the sentence imposed for such crime.”
On April 22, the 2nd Respondent, Brownie Samukai relying on the case, filed his returns to the court clarifying that a prohibition cannot and should not lie against him because he is not a tribunal court or an administrative agency, but a senatorial candidate who contested and was declared the winner of the December Special Senatorial Elections for Lofa County by the National Elections Commission and that a single justice of the Supreme Court cannot issue a writ of prohibition restraining the execution of a prior mandate by the full beach of the Supreme Court to an interior Court.
Samukai Suffers Political Setback …As Chamber Justice Prohibits Certification
By Grace Q. Bryant