By Grace Q. Bryant
The Supreme Court Bench has reserved ruling in the ongoing case involving Lofa County Senator-elect, Brownie Samukai versus the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).
With Associate Joseph Nagbe recusal, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Associate Justice Yussif Kaba, Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie and Justice Sie-Nyene Yuoh’s decision came after the lawyers representing Samukai filed an appeal to the full bench stating that Associate Nagbe ruling was a bias.
Samukai’s legal team’s argument before the Supreme Court yesterday was that the court denies the Writ for Prohibition and allows the certification process to go on.
On May 4, Justice Nagbe ruled in the Writ of Prohibition filed by the (MPC) stating that contrary to Samukai’s argument, at no time did the Supreme Court order the National Elections Commission (NEC) to certificate Samukai, rather the initial instruction was for the NEC to announce the final result from the election.
Justice Nagbe added that Article 21(j) of the Constitution 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.”
“The Court disagreed with 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,” Justice Nagbe explained.
Justice Nagbe further noted that Section 50.12 and Article 21(j) of the Constitution requires that 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.
It can be called that the MPC through its Chairperson, O’ Neil Paasewe, prayed the court to restrain and prohibit the NEC from certificating the Samukai winner of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Election for Lofa County.
The petitioner further explained that the respondent Samukai being convicted by the first Judicial Circuit for Montserrado County, Criminal Court ‘C’ for the crimes of Theft of Property, Criminal Conspiracy and Misused of Public Funds, which final ruling the Supreme Court affirmed in the court’s opinion on February 8, following an appeal filed before the court.
“He is a convicted felon whose civil liberties are ceased for committing the Crimes as charged; hence, he cannot occupy and serve in a public office as Senator- elect of Lofa county until the disability is removed; that is, by serving the sentence and certifying the penalty imposed by the trial court and subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court,” the petitioners added.
Upon the filing of the petition, Justice Nagbe issued a Stay Order on the NEC and cited the parties to a conference on March 9, 2021.
Supreme Court Reserves Ruling In Samukai’s Case
By Grace Q. Bryant