Having been expelled from the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, the chair of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, continues to show up at every judicial function including the trial of former members of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) over the alleged missing L$16 billion banknotes.
The LNBA is the umbrella organization of all lawyers in the country including the very justices of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also endorses the decision by the LNBA to expel any lawyer whose conduct does not conform to the moral and ethical standards of the LNBA. Nwabudike, having been expelled because of questionable citizenship, is however still acting in legal capacity on behalf of the Government of Liberia as head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
Now, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay has allowed Cllr. Nwabudike’s name to be included among the government lawyers that are prosecuting the L$16 billion banknotes case. Cllr. Nwabudike’s appearance comes at the time the government lawyers are wrapping up their final arguments to set the stage for the final judgment, either guilty or not.
Cllr. Nwabudike showed-up on Monday, August 10, at the opening of the August 2020 Term of Criminal Courts A,B, C, D and E, where Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie delivered the address on behalf of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor. Cllr. Nwabudike’s appearance was greeted with mixed reactions by members of the LNBA. The Bar’s president, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, described Cllr. Nwabudike’s appearance as “complete defiance of the LNBA’s decision. Let me make this clear to everybody that the Bar’s decision will be respected and nobody would be allowed to undermine it,” Gongloe warned.
The LNBA president added: “We are going to muster the support of the membership to resist the threat by anyone to undermine our decision. Cllr. Nwabudike is no longer a member of the Bar and we stand by our decision that nobody is going to change.”
The Criminal Court ‘C’ scenario was different from that of the opening of the Criminal Courts A, B, C, D, and E, where Cllr. Nwabudike did not receive any recognition, as chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
In the ongoing L$16 billion case involving Central Bank of Liberia former members of the Board of Governors, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), while presenting its lawyers in the case, introduced Nwabudike as one of its lead counselors (lawyers). In the presentation, the MoJ said, “The state is represented by the Ministry of Justice in association with the LACC and present in court, are Attorney Ben Kolako, Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, J. Adolphus Karnuah, II, and Cllr. Jerry D.K. Garlarwolu, to later be joined by other counsels of records of the said the Ministry of Justice and the LACC.”
Though, being aware about Cllr. Nwabudike’s expulsion by the LNBA, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay did not raise any contention about the introduction of Nwabudike as one of the state lawyers. Instead, Judge Gbeisay allowed him to sit on the prosecution’s bench.
Apparently, Judge Gbeisay’s action is based on the Supreme Court’s decision not to interfere with the legal tussle between the LNBA and Nwabudike. Not raising any qualm, the defense lawyers also followed the same pattern with Judge Gbeisay without mentioning anything against Nwabudike’s representation.
While seated on the prosecution’s bench, Nwabudike was not allowed to speak, even though as one of the lead lawyers in the case, Nwabudike has the legal right to speak during the trial, and he chose to remain silent during the entire hearing.
The five former members of the CBL Board of Governors on trial are; David M. Farhat, Melisa Emeh, Kollie Tamba and Elsie Dossen Badio, and Milton Weeks, all of whom were members. They are facing charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation that were drawn against them by the Grand Jury for Montserrado County stationed at Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.
Initially, the defendants had pleaded not guilty to the commission of the crimes when the document containing their charges was publicly read by the clerk of the court. They were accused of printing excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to L$2.645 billion between 2016 and 2017 without the approval of the Legislature.
The former CBL Executive Governor by then, Milton Weeks, said the printing of the additional banknotes was approved by the National Legislature, but members of the 53rd Legislature, during whose tenure the printing of the additional banknotes was reportedly authorized, have continuously denied giving the CBL the go-ahead for additional printing of money after authorizing earlier L$5 billion to be printed in April 2016 to replace mutilated banknotes on the market.