As the nation inches towards the December 8, 2020 senatorial elections, there are rising fears that the exercise may be fraught with violence, given the spate of politically motivated violence that this nation and people have borne witness to recently. The representative by-elections held in Districts 15 and 13 offers sufficient testimonial to the facts underlying growing fears of imminent violence during the forthcoming elections.
Additionally, are fears that the upcoming elections appear more likely than not to be characterized by fraud. Again the recent District 15 elections as well as the 2017 general and presidential elections provide ample evidence of this. The compromised Voters Roll (VR) whose clean-up was mandated by the Supreme Court was never done as the Jerome Korkoyah led National Elections Commission simply ignored the mandate of the Court.
Members of the Supreme Court Bench, perhaps stricken by fear of reprisals from the Executive, including job loss and loss of benefits, or for whatever other reasons, did absolutely nothing to bring the NEC Chairman Korkoyah to book. Public speculations and suspicions of bribery or inducement of members of the Bench were rife at the time. But such was nothing strange in a very toxic political environment where every move or action taken, good or bad, can be subject to nefarious interpretations.
But the hard fact remains that the Supreme Court did nothing to halt a process which they should have known was riddled with fraudulent acts, only served to reinforce public perceptions of a biased and cowardly Bench pandering to the dictates of the Executive. By then it was open secret on whose side incumbent President Sirleaf was leaning.
In retrospect, the Supreme Court Bench could have acted independently and, in defense of the Constitution, reprimanded the NEC for disobeying its mandate and could have halted the process until the VR had been cleaned-up as per its own mandate.
That was not done and the process was allowed to continue only for contesting parties to later run to the Court, crying foul and attributing cause for same to the compromised VR, which the Supreme Court itself had previously declared fraudulent and compromised and had therefore ordered its clean-up.
Now the haunting question is whether this Supreme Court as currently constituted can be counted on to deliver impartial judgements on cases of electoral fraud that are certain to arise from the conduct of elections based on a compromised VR, which is still in use. Additionally, given the controversial stance of the Court in the Justice Ja’neh’s impeachment case, the public was left with a distinct impression that the Court had kowtowed to presidential diktat and had illegally allowed the impeachment of their colleague.
Further is the nagging issue of Ndubusi Nwabudike’s expulsion from membership of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), based on his fraudulent acquisition of Liberian citizenship. Despite his expulsion from the LNBA, this proven crook of a lawyer has attempted to twist the spirit and intent of the law to suit his personal convenience. Recently during the opening of Court, Nwabudike was brazen enough to attend the opening session clad in legal robes and seated himself at the platform reserved for lawyers.
And this was in the presence of members of the Supreme Court bench who uttered not a word nor walked out in protest. The issue here is the LNBA has decided, based on exhaustive investigations, that Nwabudike fraudulently obtained Liberian citizenship and that this individual, by virtue of his fraudulent acquisition of Liberian citizenship, becomes legally unfit to practice law before courts of law in this Republic. Why has the Supreme Court not respected this decision by the Bar?
According to Wikipedia, “a bar association is a professional association of lawyers as generally organized in countries following the Anglo-American types of jurisprudence. In the United States, admission to the bar is permission granted by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both”.
Going by this definition a lawyer, whether expelled or denied admission to the LNBA, which is the arm of Court, cannot practice law before any court in Liberia. As regards the fraudulent acquisition of Liberian citizenship, this is what Nwabudike had to say:
“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.”
Now even a first-year law student knows that a minor cannot apply for Liberian citizenship. This is clearly stated in the Alien and Nationality Law, Section 21.3 sub paragraph 2 titled “Age requirement”, which states the following: “No person shall file a petition for naturalization unless he shall have attained the age of twenty-one years”.
Moreover, in face of the displayed helplessness, reluctance and apparent timidity of the Court to disbar Nwabudike from legal practice in Liberia, the public is left to speculate that this could be due to the fact that Nwabudike has connections in high places and is said to enjoy the good graces of President Weah.
Further, according to informed sources, a son of Chief Justice Korkpor (name withheld), is allegedly employed as business manager in the office of President Weah, which sources suggest could be reasons for such displayed reluctance. His critics accuse him of being a YES man citing his long years of service taking orders as a prison official and cannot be counted on to deliver unbiased judgments when cases of electoral fraud reach the Supreme Court.
Whatever the case, ONLY TIME WILL TELL whether this Supreme Court Bench under his leadership can be trusted. Will they measure up when the time comes?