More facts surrounding the case that roped Senator-elect of Lofa County, Mr. Brownie Samukai in the misappropriation of pension funds for some members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and has so far denied him taking his seat at the upper chambers of the National legislature, are emerging with the latest coming from someone who has a deep knowledge of the whole transaction, defending the former Defense Minister.
Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule, a former Senior Policy Adviser to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Mr. Samukai finds himself in the dilemma not because he actually misappropriated or stole the said pension fund but it was due to the refusal of Samukai to adhere to either of the two options given to him by some people well placed in the ruling establishment. According to him, he was asked to either join the CDC or if he decides not to do so, he should not contest the last Senatorial race held on December 8, 2020 but the former defense chief rejected both options and went ahead to contest the race.
“How was Samukai brought to face a criminal court in a non-case? I was privy to a conversation that Samukai had had with a member of the administration who asked him to either join CDC or desist from running for the senate seat in Lofa. If he were to reject those suggestions, he could find himself in court to respond to charges about the pension funds. We didn’t take the threat seriously and laughed at it. We could not imagine that something that had been agreed upon by two presidents in his presence could be reversed for political reasons”, he said. He said the whole situation is akin to a bad joke, which turned into a flimsy threat but ended up in a life chattering witch-hunt.
In his post on facebook yesterday, Dr. Dukule gave three reasons why Samukai should not be liable, saying that President-elect George Weah, outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai met and they discuss this issue. Sirleaf told Weah she had asked Samukai to spend money from the soldiers pension funds, that President- elect Weah said publicly and that the meeting had taken place and that his administration will replenish the funds and that the incoming Weah administration put US$460 000 in the funds, thus beginning to replenish the account
The scholar who wrote his piece in a way to throw satire into what may have landed Samukai in trouble besides what he called a political witch hunt trailing the Lofa County lawmaker elect, said Corruption. “Rampant Corruption.” President Sirleaf has admitted that she was leaving office without winning the corruption battle. That recognition became a slogan for those who want to throw the baby and the bathtub and a justification for broad day systemic corruption. It seemed easy to sacrifice someone like Samukai on the altar of failed politics. After all, he was heard on tape telling Ellen Corkrum about corruption in the government. He exhibits all the signs of wealth and sounds arrogant at times. Why not? He earned his money the old fashion Lofa way”, he wrote.
He said President Weah played a fast one on the people of Lofa when he visited the county during the last Presidential county tour when the citizens appealed to him to help find a solution to the case and the President responded that nothing he could do because it is being handled by the judiciary, adding further that he and Samukai go a long way. ”But the President could have and can still help. He can make an executive decision to reverse this madness and have the government return any money Samukai may have incurred in this process”, he said.
“These are the facts and the great unknown is how they were turned upside-down and how Samukai ended up being charged for theft”, he said.
He said President Weah claims to be serious about fighting corruption and hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on lobbying to convince American officials that this fight is real. He added that the challenge for him is to dust off the hundreds of cases at GAC, LRA, LACC that have been dormant and go after the culprits. “Lion killed your baby and you blame Rat”, he said.
Giving background to Samukai being a man of means with entrepreneur skills and did not need to steal, Dr. Dukule said that after they left IGNU in 1993, Samukai started a security guard service with other friends and also engaged in pig and chicken farming. He further said that Samukai and Monie Captan provided all the chicken, pork, eggs, and tomatoes to Monrovia and most of Liberia for years. “When he became uncomfortable living under Charles Taylor, he left the country and joined the UN. His businesses never stopped running. At some point, the guard service had more than 1000 persons on the payroll”, he said.
“Samukai has an MBA and served in the military. He set up the pension funds for the soldiers so that they would not face the same after-service deprivation that his generation and soldiers before him faced once discharged.
“Why, with this background, would he steal a million dollars from the one place where theft was impossible, leaving trails of evidentiary documents everywhere?
In this whole saga, Samukai has acted like a soldier. The judge wondered why he did not cite former President Sirleaf as a witness. A soldier will not summon a superior to court to testify for him or her. They expect it to happen without request. Politics is the deadliest game in Liberia. Innocence does not matter. Truth in court? Smokescreen”, Dr. Dukule said.
“As my other friend said, the best way to predict the future is to look at past behavior. Samukai has occupied many positions in the government where he could have stolen millions – police director, deputy at state, deputy at defense and minister. He worked in government when accountability was not an issue. With the tens of millions of dollars that went through Defense yearly, why would (MBA) Colonel Samukai steal from the one place open to everyone’s scrutiny?”, Dukule said in the statement
Dukule said whatever salary he ever got from the government was minuscule compared to his private sector revenues, that he is more an entrepreneur than a bureaucrat but he loves public service, he has political ambitions, and some don’t like it.
The prolific writer said that the whole episode has been a serious waste of resources and energy, He said Samukai may be a lot of things but he is not a thief and he is not one of those who joined the government penniless to be millionaires overnight.
“Then again, the longer this story goes on, the more people will see the hands of political actors and Samukai will only gain in popularity, becoming a living martyr. He may even be jailed, but will not be broken.
“Mr. President, you know the thieves, and Samukai is not one of them”, he concluded.