By Lennart Dodoo, email@example.com
MONROVIA – The National Elections Commission (NEC) is set to certify the winners of the October 10 General and Presidential Elections, along with the subsequent November 14 run-off elections. However, it appears that two well-known senators-elect may not receive certification. This could mark the commencement of a protracted legal process that may ultimately result in the forfeiture of their senatorial seats.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that there is pending legal action that could push the Supreme Court to put a stay on the certification of former Minister of State, Mr. Nathaniel McGill who has been elected as Senator of Margibi County and the former Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Mr. Bill Twehway, also elected as Senator of Rivercess County.
The crux of the legal action is anchored in the sanctions placed on them in 2021 by the United States Department of Treasury under the Global Magnitsky Act for alleged acts of corruption they were involved with while serving their respective positions in the George Weah-led government.
Sources at the Supreme Court informed FrontPageAfrica that the petition is yet to be filed, however, they have received information that the petition is being prepared.
The petition, according to sources, primarily seeks to prevent them from assuming their respective offices so as to pave the way for an unhindered prosecution for the corruption alleged by the United States Department of States, which accordingly undermined the democracy of Liberia.
Throughout his time in government as the President’s chief of staff, McGill allegedly engaged in unethical practices, such as bribing business owners, accepting bribes from potential investors, and receiving kickbacks for steering contracts towards companies in which he holds a vested interest. His alleged manipulation of public procurement processes is evident in the unfair awarding of multi-million dollar contracts to companies where he has ownership, according to U.S. Treasury Department. He is further alleged to have exploited emergency procurement procedures to manipulate contract bids systematically.
The accusations against McGill extend beyond financial misconduct, encompassing a spectrum of corrupt activities. These include soliciting bribes from government office seekers, misappropriating government assets for personal gain, diverting government funds intended for other Liberian institutions to fuel his own projects, making off-the-books cash payments to senior government officials, and orchestrating the use of warlords to intimidate political rivals. Furthermore, McGill reportedly received unwarranted stipends from various Liberian government entities, leveraging his position to conceal his misappropriations.
For Twehway, he is alleged to have orchestrated the redirection of US$1.5 million in vessel storage fee funds from the NPA to a private account. He covertly established a private company and, leveraging his position at the NPA, unilaterally granted a contract for loading and unloading cargo at the Port of Buchanan to this newly formed entity. The contract was bestowed upon the company less than a month after its inception. Twehway and accomplices employed family members to conceal their own association with the company while still reaping financial benefits from its operations.
The pending action against the two newly elected senators is reminiscent of the case pulled up against former Minister of National Defense J. Brownie Samukai who was also prevented from taking his seat after he was found guilty of economic sabotage.
The unfolding situation has prompted observers to draw comparisons to the case of J. Brownie Samukai, who, despite winning the Lofa senatorial seat, was barred from taking office. Many argue that Samukai’s legal troubles were politically motivated, with the intent of preventing him from assuming the role of Senator of Lofa County.
In August 2021, the Supreme Court rejected Samukai’s certification following a petition from the Ministry of Justice. The petition cited Samukai’s conviction for economic sabotage and the failure to restitute US$1.4 million to the pension fund of the Armed Forces of Liberia which he misapplied under the instruction of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Samukai’s subsequent two-year jail sentence and the forfeiture of his senatorial seat fueled speculation about the politicization of legal proceedings.
The reported legal action against McGill and Twehway, echoing the Samukai case, raises questions about whether this is a continuation of a pattern aimed at key figures associated with the outgoing CDC government. Some view it as a strategic move by the incoming Unity Party government and Samukai, to use the precedent set against their political rivals.
Source: Frontpage Africa