By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper
Liberia-December 21, 2023: President George Weah has granted executive Pardon to over 101 convicts detained at various prison facilities across the country.
President Weah order is part of the presidential transition period. The executive pardon is in line with Article 59 of the 1986 Liberian constitution. Article 59 of the Liberian constitution gives the Liberian Chief Executive the power to “remit public forfeiture and penalties, suspend any fines and sentences. It also enables the president to grant reprieves and pardons and restore civil rights after conviction for all public offences except impeachment”.
Notable among the 101 pardoned individuals are former National Defense Minister J Brownie Samukai Jr., former Deputy Defense Minister for Administration Joseph P. Johnson and the former Comptroller Mr. Nyumah Dorkor.
These former Government Officials are also relieved of their legal obligation to refund to the Liberian Government the money that they were convicted of misappropriating while serving in their respective capacities at the Ministry of National Defense.
It can be recalled that on January 27, 2022, former defence minister Samukai, his deputy Minister for Administration Joseph Johnson along with former Comptroller Nyumah Daorkor was convicted of embezzling US $1.1 million.
The funds were stolen from the pension account of the Armed Forces of Liberia during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when Samukai headed the Defence Ministry.
Samukai and his deputies were sentenced to two years in prison and mandated to pay US$537,828.15 comprising 50 per cent of the total amount within six months by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
However, in February 2022, President Weah granted executive clemency to Samukai, suspending his two-year jail sentence, and requesting him to work with the Justice Ministry for the payment of the stolen money.
Others who are to be pardoned are individuals who were convicted of committing minor offences and were serving various prison terms. Convicts pardoned are those with life-threatening ailments, old age, and individuals who served a substantial amount of the time for which they were sentenced and demonstrated good behaviour while serving their respective sentences.
Meanwhile, President George Weah has mandated the Attorney General Cllr. Frank Musah Dean Jr., Minister of Justice to ensure the unhindered implementation of the Presidential Pardon in keeping with judicial procedures.