-State Lawyers Reply
Lawyers representing the government in the ongoing citizenship declaration lawsuit filed by the withdrawn nominee to the National Elections Commission (NEC), Counselor Ndubusi Nwabudike, have replied the suit arguing in effect that the Civil Law Court lacks jurisdiction over the matter currently pending before that Court.
It can be recalled that President George Weah recently withdrew Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination, after a rigorous grilling session at the Liberian Senate during confirmation hearings revealed serious flaws in his application for citizenship that left the public with a distinct impression that his (Nwabudike’s) naturalization document was forged.
Shortly after the grilling session at the Senate, Nwabudike’s legal team filed a petition for ‘Declaratory Judgment’ before the Sixth Judicial Circuit that includes Civil Law Courts, (A and B), at the Temple of Justice, to affirm and declare his right to Liberian citizenship, although, the First Judicial Circuit that includes Criminal Court ‘B’ had initially denied Nwabudike’s claims to Liberian nationality.
State prosecutors’ responding to Nwabudike’s lawsuit argued that the Civil Law Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter that is the declaration status and rights of Nwabudike as a naturalized citizen of the Republic of Liberia. State lawyers further argued that under Liberian law jurisdiction is vested in a court by the statue creating it, “and anything outside of that jurisdiction is void ab initio.”
State lawyers while conceding that a although, the Sixth Judicial Circuit being a court of record has the right to enter into a declaratory judgement, yet the subject upon which the court is requested to make declaration must first be cognizable before the court in order for it to proceed”, state prosecutors maintained.
They also argued that the Alien and Nationality Law Title 4, Liberian Code of Law, Revised Section 21.5, thereof confers exclusive jurisdiction, to naturalize any person as a citizen of Liberia, on the First Judicial Circuit particularly Criminal Court ‘B’ to exercise such jurisdiction and not the Sixth Judicial Circuit, where Nwabudike is seeking approval of his citizenship.
“This Civil Law Court lacks such power to do so, since it is the First Judicial Circuit that has jurisdiction over the issue of naturalization and competence to declare who is legally and lawfully a naturalized citizen of the Republic of Liberia as per the record of the First Judicial Circuit Court,” the government lawyers emphasized.
During his confirmation hearing, Nwabudike informed the Senators that he was born in 1964 and subsequently obtained his citizenship in 1982, meaning that he was 17 years old when he applied for his naturalization and subsequently obtained his citizenship from Criminal Court ‘B.’
Nwabudike also informed the Senators that during his application process, the court required of him to bring parental consent and an adult to take the oath since he was minor.
“When I had my declaration of intents, I was a minor and because of that, I was required to bring a parental consent and an adult to stand to take the oath behind me. In this jurisdiction, our law requires that if a minor wants to get married, it requires parental consent. My argument here is that the court has set a precedent that when a minor wants to make a decision or a position of an adult, parental consent is required, and it can be granted under the law when it is done in the presence of a qualified adult,” Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike said.
However, the Senators anchoring their arguments on the basis of the Alien and Naturalization Law, which provides that: “No person shall file a petition for naturalization unless he shall have attained the age of twenty-one years” completely rejected Nwabudike’s claims to having legally obtained Liberian citizenship since he was below legal age and could not have therefore legally obtained Liberian citizenship.
Meanwhile, the Court is yet to schedule a date for hearing of its (the Court’s) opinion in a final ruling in the case at bar.