Matters Arising from the Liberia National Bar Association’s Expulsion of Cllr. Nwabudike

Published: 6/Jul/2020
Source: Front Page Africa (Monrovia)

By George Lomax

The LNBA’s investigation started in the media with a press conference long before Cllr. Nwabudike was notified of an attempt to investigate his citizenship. It also ended in the media with a press conference without the benefit of LNBA communicating its finding to Cllr. Nwabudike. The LNBA’s only letter to Cllr. Nwabudike of April 4, 2020, invited him to appear before the Bar’s Grievance and Ethics Committee and prove himself innocent of the allegation of his failure to satisfactorily prove his Citizenship to the Honorable Senators during his confirmation hearing for the chairmanship of NEC. So, the Bar has found Cllr. Nwabudike guilty from the outset and then invited him to prove himself innocent!!

Let it be clear from the outset about whom the LNBA personalities are. Cllr Tiawon Gongloe (President of the LNBA) is the lead lawyer for the council of patriots (CoP) and by extension the CPP (the most vociferous and violent opposition grouping to the government of President George Manneh Weah; and Bobby Livingston (secretary General of the LNBA) is lawyer for Alternative National Congress (ANC/CPP). This is the political block that publicly vowed to thwart the confirmation of Cllr Nwabudike as Chairman of the NEC. Bobby Livingstone is the man whose name has enter the lexicon of Liberia’s Cliché because of his infamous role in the falsification of elections results during the Chairmanship of James Fromoyan at NEC. So, besides their positions as President and Secretary General of the LNBA, both Cllrs Gongloe and Livingston have vested political interest in damaging Cllr. Nwabudike and presenting the decision of the government to nominate him as ill advised.

President Weah did not make Cllr Nwabudike a Citizen of Liberia; he did not make him a Lawyer; and he certainly did not make him a member or official of the LNBA. President Weah appointed Cllr. Nwabudike to position in Government, as he would any other patriotic Liberian, because the Supreme Court has already vetted and pronounce him a Citizen of Liberia and qualified him as counsellor of the Supreme Court bar. To expect President Weah to dismiss Cllr. Nwabudike because some individuals who are clearly politically motivated believe that he has not convinced senators of his citizenship, is not only to request the President to violate the judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, but it would amount to asking the president to violate the fundamental right of a Liberian Citizen.

If the LNBA believes that it has uncovered fraud in the citizenship application of Cllr. Nwabudike and can prove same in a court of law, the appropriate procedure would be to pray for indictment, convict Cllr. Nwabudike of fraud and submit record of such conviction to the Court and pray the Court to strip him of his rights, both as a citizen and as a lawyer.

The Bar’s expulsion of Cllr Nwabudike is premised upon the fact that he is not a citizen of Liberia. But can the Bar make declaration on who is and is not a Citizen of Liberia? In a recent Supreme Court’s Opinion involving Teage Jalloh (2019), the Honorable Supreme held that “only the court of law can pass on the question of citizenship”. Accordingly, the LNBA lacks the standing and jurisdiction to investigate and pass on a question of citizenship. The Bar’s argument that Cllr. Nwabudike’s claim to citizenship is fraudulent lacks any factual basis because the LNBA failed woefully to state what specific action of Cllr. Nwabudike constitutes the fraud. Under the statute of fraud in this jurisdiction, one who alleges fraud cannot at one and the same time be the judge and the jury; allegation of fraud must be tried by a jury selected by the parties, not by one of the parties; and the State must prove its case beyond all doubts of a prudent mind.

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Themes: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality, Nationality of Politicians
Regions: Liberia
Year: 2020