– Augustine Ndubuisi Nwabudike comes in defense of his citizenship, files petitioned before Civil Law Court to declare his citizenship
Since Cllr. Augustine Ndubuisi Nwabudike’s citizenship came into public debate leading to President George Weah’s withdrawal of his nomination as chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), the Nigerian born lawyer is using the Supreme Court of Liberia as one of his witnesses for testimonies concerning his Liberian nationality.
Cllr. Nwabudike’s decision to use the Supreme Court is contained in a Petition of Declaratory Judgment filed on Tuesday, April 7, just a day after the Criminal Court ‘B’ that is responsible for issuance of Liberian citizenship to foreign nationals denied issuing him (Nwabudike) a certificate of naturalization.
The Criminal Court, through its Clerk, Ben George Teah, declared: “This is to certify that after a careful perusal of the records of this Honorable Court on the herein above-named person, Augustine Ndubuisi Nwabudike, regarding his naturalization of May 1982, we have not found any document up to the issuance of this certificate.
“In furtherance of our check, we communicated with the Liberian Immigration Service (LIS) and they replied that after a thorough search of their records, they have not found any information on the aforesaid individual regarding his legal resident status or naturalization,” Teah said in a clerk’s certificate issued to Cllr. Finley Karngar.
But in his petition, Cllr. Nwabudike argued that following his practice of law as Attorney for three consecutive years at the Local Bar for Montserrado County, which is a part of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), he applied and was admitted to the Supreme Court Bar as Counselor-At-Law.
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, including the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. Such persons must have sat and passed the National 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.
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’s citizenship is being seriously questioned by some Senators including Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
Nwabudike further claimed that: “This is copy of the certificate of admission to the Supreme Court Bar to form a cogent part hereof in the substantiation of my case,” Nwabudike argued.
Nwabudike further argued that while practicing as a counselor of the Supreme Court Bar, he was appointed to serve as chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) following his confirmation by the very Senate that is questioning his citizenship to serve the Liberian government in the capacity of the National Elections Commission chairmanship.
With that confirmation, Nwabudike claimed that he was associated with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in prosecuting the economic sabotage case that involves former Defense Minister Browine Samukai and others.
Nwabudike further argued that until the court makes the declaration about his citizenship to help clear the doubt on the minds of people about him, he stands to suffer continuous violation of his right as a “Liberian citizen.”
Therefore, Nwabudike’s petition argues that: “This court is requested to declare my right as a Liberian citizen to enable me to benefit all rights and privileges associated with the status of citizenship.”
Nwabudike also said that he attended the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL) and earned an LLB Degree in Law. Following completion of his study at the Law School, he was admitted to the Montserrado County Bar as an Attorney-At-Law to practice law in the country.
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 argued 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.”
That was contrary to Nwabudike’s contention that he was 17 years old when he filed and appeared before Criminal Court ‘B” for the process leading to his naturalization and subsequently obtaining his citizenship.