Liberia: Has Defense Minister Samukai Resigned?

Troubled Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai is said to have finally tendered in his letter of resignation over the secret tape recording released by Ellen Corkrum, the disgraced former Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport or RIA, highly placed sources within the corridors of the Executive Mansion told this paper over the weekend.

Mr. Samukai’s resignation, according to our sources, came just days after Ms. Corkrum released her secret tape recording, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is yet to accept or reject his resignation.

Other sources told this paper that he has been asked by the president to stay on until his successor is nominated.

His resignation, which has been rumored since the release of the secret recording has been overshadowed by the content of the recording itself.

Another source who confirmed the resignation of Mr. Samukai said “it true that he tendered in his resignation, but the media had allowed Corkrum’s (diversionary) tactics to be the news.”

Samukai, one of the longest serving Ministers in the Sirleaf’s administration was secretly recorded by Ms. Corkrum making comments, some of which suggest that President Sirleaf is aware of some of the alleged theft unfolding in her government but has chosen to turn a blind eye on them. Other comments on the tape also suggested that the disgraced RIA boss had been set up by other government officials, just to get rid of her.

The recording, which appears to have taken place in Samukai’s office at the Ministry of National Defense, was released nearly two weeks ago after the government of Liberia announced the indictment of Ms. Corkrum and others.

Secret recording of colleagues is said to be on the rise among Liberian government officials. Samukai is the latest victim and the only so far to have tendered in his letter of resignation over such recordings.

There are several Liberian Government officials still in government who appear to have adapted a technique of secretly recording one another when discussing matters of state with the intent of releasing it to the public after an eventual fall out.

The practice came to the fore during the first term of Mrs. Sirleaf when then House Speaker Edwin Snowe produced a recorded CD in which he implicated his colleagues in the House of Representatives, discussing a purported money received from the Executive to have him (Snowe) ousted from the speakership.

Former Montserrado County Superintendent Madam Grace Tee Kpaan early this year leased a secret recording of Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh in which Ford made suggestions on how to misapply the county development funds.