Justice Minister Revokes SG Cephus’ Order To NEC -Says no official is to Interfere With NEC’s Independence
The Attorney General of Liberia, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Jr., has nullified request a letter by Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus requesting the National Elections Commission to refrain from certificating Lofa County Senator-elect, J. Brownie Samukai.
“We present our complements and herewith inform you that Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus’ letter to you dated February 14, 2021, relative to the non-certification of Mr. Brownie J. Samukai is withdrawn,” Mr. Dean informed NEC Chairperson Davidetta Brown-Lassanah in a letter dated March 1, 2021.
The withdrawal of the letter, the Attorney General said, is based on grounds that the Solicitor General is not the competent and lawful functionary at the Ministry of Justice to write said letter without the Minister’s directive.
Minister Dean “hereby negate and dismiss any suggestion, emanating from the tone of said letter, that Solicitor General Cephus intended to instruct the Commission; as no official is authorized to instruct the commission in the independent execution of its functions, except pursuant to law.”
Solicitor General Cephus recently instructed the National Election Commission not to certificate Senator-elect Samukai on ground of a guilty verdict brought against him by the Supreme Court of Liberia relative to the misapplication of money said to belong to officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). Cephus claimed that by law, Samukai is a convict of a criminal offense and should not be certificated to occupy the Senate seat for Lofa County.
Already the NEC has declared that Samukai, former Minister of National Defense, the winner of the 2020 Midterm Senatorial Election for the Seat of Lofa County. But a group of dissatisfied Lofans objected to his election, claiming interference with the process and ballot stuffing, and the matter was taken to Supreme Court after the NEC Board of Commissioners had probed the claim and nullified same.
At the end of revision of the Appeal by lawyers of the dissatisfied litigants, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the NEC Board of Commissioners, clearing the senator-elect from the claims of vote rigging and ballot stuffing and sending the case back to NEC for the Certification of Mr. Samukai as Senator-elect for Lofa County. It was at this stage that the Solicitor Cephus ordered the National Elections Commission to desist from certificating Mr. Samukai, an order that has been revoked by the Attorney General of Liberia, Frank Musa Dean.