The Minister of State for President Affairs has harshly criticized the revered Poro Society for protesting against the Supreme Court.
“I was watching Facebook live and I saw a country devil protesting. This has never happened in our country, it is a shame and whoever did that must be disgraceful,” said Minister Nathaniel McGill, who is also the Chief of Staff to the President of Liberia.
The Poro Society, in a rare and unprecedented move, protested against the delay by the Supreme Court to decide the fate of the Lofa County senatorial seat, which has been unoccupied due to the disability imposed on Senator-elect Brownie Samukai by the Court. For McGill, the action by traditional leaders is a disgrace to the country’s culture; therefore those who masterminded it should be made to publicly apologize.
“I was ashamed of what I saw. Whoever did that must be rebuked publicly. That person has brought shame to our tradition,” he said. “My father was a ‘zoe’ and whoever knows me knew that I was ashamed. This is our tradition and somebody is using it for politics.”
He then condemned the Poro Society action and branded it as a disgrace to tradition. Min. McGill noted that country devils are not responsible for making democratic decisions and, as such, should stay out of it.
The November 30 protest, though peaceful, saw roads being halted, halting the movement of people and goods between the two counties. The intent was to oppose the delay by the Supreme Court to decide the fate of the Lofa County senatorial seat, which has been unoccupied due to the disability imposed on Senator-elect Brownie Samukai by the Court.
And they have vowed to protest again if the Supreme Court cannot rule on the matter – deciding if the senate will be declared vacant or not. The name Ngaimu – is the traditional name of the head of the Poro Society in that part of Liberia demands among other things.
The Supreme Court months ago denied Samukai’s request for the high court to reverse the judgment of the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice, which found him and two others guilty of misapplying over US$1 million in pension funds stored up in a bank account for members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) when he served as Defense Minister.
The disability includes the payment of US$173,276.05 as some portion of his share of money illegally withdrawn from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) pension funds, for which he was found guilty of misapplication of entrusted property, theft of property, and other criminal offenses by Criminal Court ‘C’ with such ruling confirmed by the Supreme Court.
While Samukai made a payment of US$173,276.05, his two deputies Joseph F. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration, and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller, did not, despite being found guilty jointly.
Samukai, together with Johnson and Dorkor, were to pay the amount of US$573,832.68 within a six-month period to avoid imprisonment, according to the Supreme Court mandate to the Criminal Court ‘C’. It was out of the amount of US$573,832.68 that Samukai alone managed to pay the US$173,276.05, which his followers believed is the portion of his share of the money.
The Court then ordered the National Election Commission not to certify him until the disability imposed on him as a result of his conviction for a felony is removed. The Court argued that from a review of the records, Samukai and his two deputies were jointly charged with the commission of the crimes for which they were brought down guilty.
The Supreme Court added that the restitution is a part of the sentence, as such; Samukai and the two others are to restitute the amount withdrawn from the AFL Pension Account without the permission or authorization of the soldiers.
And since the incident, many high-ranking members of the Weah led Government has accused members of the opposition bloc of influencing traditional leaders to hold a protest to cause chaos among citizens.
Joining his colleagues, Min. McGill blamed the opposition too for masterminding the traditional leaders in the county. He added that politicians should stop dividing the country by abusing its traditions.
“When it has to do with legal matters, let the court handle it. It is the Liberian people who decide what happens in our democratic process. The devil doesn’t decide what happens,” Min. McGill added. “If people get an issue, they must go to court, when the court decides we should obey the court. Country devil holding a press conference, you can press conference. We from a cultural background are ashamed.”
Min. McGill made the assertion at the Launch the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism weekly press briefing in Monrovia when he launched the Bicentennial activities along with Jefferson T. Koijee, Mayor of Monrovia, and other cabinet members.
The event is being held under the theme ‘Liberia Land of Return’ which signifies three historical milestones achieved by the country since it was founded in 1822. It also celebrates Liberia as a land chosen as a refuge by Free people who endure many years of servitude in the US to self-governance of their country.
“… consequently, under the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), many of the self-determination immigrated from the US and disembarked on Providence Island in Liberia on January 7, 1822, said Maxwell Saah Kemayah Sr, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He added that the theme seeks to memorize black freedom and nationhood and the determination for self-governance that began 200 years ago when Liberia was established in an era when Pan-African self-rule was seeking self-determination, the founding of Liberia which gained independence in 1847 stood as a clear indication that Africa was capable of self-rule.