MONROVIA, Montserrado – The chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia and other high ranking AFL officials are set to testify today in the economic sabotage trial against Brownie Samukai.
Criminal Court C’s Judge Yamie Gbeisay issued a subpoena to obtain testimonies from AFL Chief of Staff Prince Johnson, General Geraldine George, and Captain Nathanial Waka. The subpoena is a result of a request from prosecution lawyers.
Cllr. Arthur Johnson asked the judge to allow the officials “to appear and testify for and on behalf of the state regarding the AFL internal reconciliation investigation.”
The request was made after the prosecution’s second witness, Marc Kollie, the chief of investigation of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, took the stand on Thursday.
Judge Gbeisay also mandated the court’s clerk to serve a subpoena requiring EcoBank’s management to produce all relevant documents, including bank statements and vouchers, of the AFL accounts in question from the date of establishment to November 3, 2013. EcoBank’s officials have a week to deliver the documents.
Former Minister Samukai, Joseph Johnson and Nyumah Dorkoron were indicted on multiple crimes, including money laundering, economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, and criminal conspiracy in October 2019.
The case in question stems from charges against the defendants brought by the government’s Assets Investigation, Restitution and Recovery Team, or AIRRT, headed by Cllr. Arthur Johnson. Established in 2019 by President George Weah, AIRRT is tasked with revisiting past audit reports in which former government officials were found culpable in the misapplication of public funds and assets. The team aims to recover the assets.
The indictment alleges that Samukai and his co-defendants wrongfully deducted monies from a contributory savings fund they set up for AFL soldiers in August 2009. As then minister of defense, Samukai is accused of misapplying an estimated US$1.7 million of the officers’ welfare and supplementary pension benefits fund.
According to the indictment, the defendants also criminally withdrew US$852,860 from the account and expended that amount on activities already covered under the Ministry of National Defense’s allocations in the national budget.
Moreover, the defendants installed themselves as the lone signatories to the pension accounts, excluding the army’s chief of staff and other high-ranking officers of the Ministry of National Defense.
Even though the fund was established to provide benefits to wounded AFL soldiers and the families of deceased soldiers, as well as supplement pension packages to personnel of AFL upon retirement, none of these purposes was fully pursued by defendants while they managed the funds.
Featured photo courtesy of the Executive Mansion