-A Supreme Court lawyer, Cllr. Massaquoi, pleads
Counselor Jonathan T. Massaquoi, a recognized Supreme Court lawyer, is pleading with the high court to uphold the Liberian National Bar Association’s (LNBA) decision to expel Ndubusi Nwabudike, the Executive Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission. Nwabudike was recently expelled from the Bar’s membership of what was found to be his fraudulent acquisition of Liberian citizenship.
Earlier, lawyers representing Counselor Nbudusi Nwabudike, who was expelled by the LNBA, have pleaded with the Supreme Court for a Writ of Prohibition to be issued against his (Nwabudike’s) expulsion by the bar, claiming that the decision is illegal and it should be reversed by the court.
Prohibition is an order from a superior court to a lower court or tribunal, directing the judge and the parties to cease the litigation because the lower court does not have proper jurisdiction to determine the matters before it.
Addressing Journalists at his Broad Street office, Cllr. Jonathan T. Massaquoi, a member of the Supreme Court bar, said justices of the High Court over the years have advised the LNBA to take drastic action against lawyers that are involved with ethical transgression in line with its by-law and constitution, to ensure the dignity of the bar is respected.
Cllr. Massaquoi likewise quoted retired Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks who, according to him, said that, “The Supreme Court does not expect the bar to sit to allow its members that are involved with ethical transgression without protecting the integrity of the legal profession.”
Cllr. Massaquoi said with the submission of Cllr. Nwabudike’s request that is before the Supreme Court, it is now time for the high court to actualize its advice as regards ethical transgression by members of the bar and subsequent punishment.
“The Justices now need to know that this was their advice to the bar, and so the bar had acted by expelling Cllr. Nwabudike’s membership from the association because of unethical behavior that had brought our noble institution to public disrepute,” Cllr. Massaquoi said. He added that the bar is not in error to have acted in line with its constitution to expel Cllr. Nwabudike.
“Cllr. Nwabudike was accorded due process, but he refused to attend to so many invitations extended to him by the bar to enable him to clarify his Liberian citizenship. Cllr. Nwabudike missed the opportunity,” Cllr. Massaquoi noted.
Reflecting on the Supreme Court’s suspension of former ECOWAS Court Judge, Justice Micah Wilkins Wright, after revoking his license for 12 months for ethical transgression in Liberia, which led to Justice Wright’s removal by the Justices of the ECOWAS Court, Cllr. Massaquoi said, though the Supreme Court by then never had jurisdiction over the removal of Justice Wright, the ECCOWAS Court was compelled to support the Supreme Court’s action.
“This is the same scenario with the LNBA’s expulsion of Cllr. Nwabudike and the Supreme Court should follow the action by the ECOWAS Court,” Cllr. Massaquoi pleaded. “If the Supreme Court can suspend Justice Wright, who they had no jurisdiction over and he was removed from the ECOWAS Court, then they should do the same with the LNBA’s action,” the supreme court lawyer contended.
It can be recalled that, while reading the association’s decision, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President of the Liberian Bar Association, said: “There is no record at Criminal Court ‘B’ to support his Liberian citizenship claim; therefore, the committee recommended that he should be expelled consistent with Article 11 Section IX of the Constitution of the Liberian National Bar Association.” The article provides that: “Any member may, after inquiry, be disciplined by means of suspension or expulsion from the membership of the association for proven gross misconduct in his relations with the association or in his professional undertaking upon two-third votes of the membership of the National Executive Council.”
The controversy arose over Cllr. Nwabudike’s Liberian citizenship after he was nominated by President George Weah to serve as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), with Nwabudike failing to convince members of the Senate of his citizenship, thereby causing President Weah to withdraw his nomination and keep him as Executive Chairman of the LACC, the position for which he was earlier confirmed by the Senate. Given that, Gongloe explained, the Grievance and Ethics Committee’s recommendation that Cllr. Nwabudike is expelled was approved by a vote of two-third members of the executive committee.
“Hence he is hereby expelled from the membership of the LNBA. His name is hereby stricken from the roster of the membership of the LNBA.” According to Gongloe, the decision of Cllr. Nwabudike’s expulsion was to be shortly communicated to the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and Chief Justice Francis Korkpor of the Supreme Court as well as all courts throughout the Republic of Liberia.