Following days of twist and turns in the ongoing confirmation of the newly nominated chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, a Nigerian national, as to how he (Nwabudike) obtained his Liberian citizenship and subsequently entered the legal profession as a Supreme Court lawyer, the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) has instructed its Grievance and Ethics Committee to expeditiously conduct an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding Nwabudike’s citizenship.
The LNBA is the umbrella and self-regulating body of all lawyers in the country and its membership is limited to Liberians who are graduates of any recognized law school in Liberia or abroad. Such persons must have sat and passed the bar exam and, thereafter, been qualified and admitted to practice law in Liberia, which Nwabudike’s membership is now seriously challenged due to his questionable citizenship.
In a statement by the LNBA dated Wednesday, April 1, the umbrella body of lawyers in the country said, “Its attention is drawn to the brewing controversy over the citizenship of its member Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike recently nominated for the position of chairman of the NEC.”
According to the Bar, Chapter 17.1 of the Judiciary Law restricts the practice of law in Liberia to only Liberian citizens, of which Nwabudike citizenship is being seriously questioned by some Senators including Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
Therefore, the LNBA statement continues, “Because of these continuing doubts being expressed regarding Nwabudike’s citizenship and his responses regarding how he obtained the citizenship, and in the effort of the bar to clear its doubts regarding the citizenship of Cllr. Nwabudike, the National Executive Council of the LNBA has mandated its Grievance and Ethics Committee to expeditiously conduct an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the issues being raised about the citizenship of Cllr. Nwabudike.”
The LNBA noted that its investigation is to verify whether or not Nwabudike met the requirement of becoming a citizen of Liberia in order to provide clarifications to the public or proceed with the appropriate legal steps.
“LNBA assures the Liberian people that as the general counsel, it will continue to perform its role in advocating for and ensuring adherence to the rule of law by all branches of the government,” the statement noted.
The bar believes that elections rigging in 1985 led to the 14-year brutal civil war in the country, and it has set a basis for lack of confidence in the electoral process, thus laying the foundation for conflict in Liberia.
“Our government must therefore, tale all measures consistent with law and the public good to stimulate the trust, confidence in the integrity of the NEC to conduct a free, fair and transparent election, so as to prevent any threat to our fledgling democracy and introduce another fratricidal conflict in our dear country,” the bar cautioned the government.
The LNBA further observed that confidence in the NEC starts with nominating and confirming of persons generally perceived by the voting population to be men or women of integrity that are independent-minded and experienced in decision making as well as ensuring that appointees meet the requirement of the law and a Liberian citizenship, and possess good moral character.