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Senate Mandates Justice To Retract Letter Against Samukai

By Bill W. Cooper
The plenary of the Liberian Senate has mandated the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, to retract a recent letter written by the Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to halt the certification process of Lofa County Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai.
The Senate, through a motion by Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence also mandated the Justice Minister to submit a copy of the retraction letter to the Liberia Senate through the office of the Secretary of Senate, Nanbolor Singbe on or before tomorrow.
The Liberian Senate took the decision on yesterday, during its 13th day sitting based on the Justice Minister’s statement that he approved the letter when on Tuesday he explained before that same plenary that he was not around when the letter was written and sent to the NEC.
In his letter dated February 14, 2021, to the NEC, the Solicitor General explained, “You will recall that prior to the December 8, 2020 election, Mr. Samukai was found guilty by the lower court along with his co-conspirators for the same crimes, but took an appeal to the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, which automatically stayed the enforcement of the convicted judgment.”
“Therefore, the recent judgment by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia is not a novelty and did not depart from the holding of the lower court’s judgment; instead, it confirmed the lower court’s judgment, which means Mr. Samukai together with his co-conspirators has been convicted for felony from the date the lower court rendered its judgment in 2020,” he argued.
Cllr. Cephus justified that, “Accordingly, since the guilty judgment, it is the law controlling and constitutes a finality of the matter, and by law, it is not appealable in this jurisdiction; it is my considered opinion that it will be inarguable to allay any and all concerns that may arise, and you will therefore proceed not to certificate him.”
However, contrary to his assertion made to the same senators during Tuesday session and in defense of the letter when quizzed by the senators, Minister Dean admitted that although he was not around when the letter was written, after being briefed about its content and context, he can attest that it is by his approval.
On Tuesday, February 23, Minister Dean revealed that he did not see the communication written by the Solicitor General and that he got the information via Facebook; emphasizing that he also has no idea why Cephus wrote the NEC on the matter thereby referring members of the Senate to the communicator whom according to him (Dean) is the best person that could respond to their inquiry.
However, appearing on yesterday before that same body, Minister Dean said, “Distinguished senators, I told your on Tuesday that I never had the opportunity at the time to review the letter and if you wanted evidence, the SG could have been the best evidence on that day but after I was abreast by the SG about the letter of which I did a full reviewing of the matter which I have therefore approved.”
Minister Dean further stated that the decision to send the letter to the NEC was in line with the Chapter 3 Sec. 3.23 of the New Election Law of the country which gives the Justice Minister the absolute right to infirmed the NEC about any citizen who has been convicted by the court.
Following his explanation, several senators including Prince Moye, Emmanuel Nuquay and Darius Dillon all described the Solicitor General decision backed by the Minister to write the NEC as anti-democratic thus urging them to desist from attempting to interfere in electoral matters in the country.
However, Representative Moses Gray differed with the senators’ decision instructing the Justice Minister to retract his communication to NEC and described it as “shameful, disgusting, degrading and an abuse of legislative powers.”
He also accused the President of the Senate, Jewel Howard-Taylor who was the presiding office of being order by not allowing the witnesses to answer questions and concerns raised by senators during the cross examination.
Rep. Gray further advised that the Justice Ministry does not honor the mandate from the Liberian Senate, instead urged the Ministry of Justice to remain resolute on their stance to the NEC concerning the conviction of the Lofa County Senator-elect, Brownie J. Samukai on grounds that Legislature does not have the powers to instruct ministers an others under the Executive because appointed officials work only at the will and pleasure of the President.

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