Barely 24 hours after the Self-proclaimed Nigerian born naturalized Liberian, withdrew his petition from the Monrovia Civil Law Court where he had sought that court to uphold his citizenship claims here, questions abound as to whether President George Weah will maintain a foreigner at the country’s anti-graft commission.
His citizenship here came under heavy scrutiny when Mr. Weah appointed him in March to head the country’s National Elections Commission (NEC) as chair. Before his appointment as NEC Chair, he has been serving as the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission chair.
On Tuesday the disgraced Nigerian – born Nwabudike notified the Civil Law Court in Monrovia of the withdrawal of a petition he filed against the Liberian government, after a Senate confirmation hearing exposed long – held deep controversies surrounding his claim that he is a naturalized Liberian.
“That Petition of the Petitioner for Declaratory Judgment shall and same is hereby withdrawn with immediate effect, without prejudice,” Cllr. Nwabudike says in the notice of voluntary discontinuance filed with the Civil Law Court on 5 May.
The withdrawal comes as the Liberian National Bar Association-LNBA, a legal institution for lawyers here filed an intervener motion before the court, in which it as the government to prosecute and deport him (Nwabudike).
He, however, informs the court that he reserves the right to [refile] with amendments as to the parties and content.
Further, Nwabudike tells the court that he is an employee of the government and that the government has not in any way or manner threatened or query the standing of the petitioner as a qualified Counsellor – at – law with all the rights and privileges appertaining, saying he named government as party respondent in the case in error.
In his withdrawn petition, Nwabudike had requested the court to restate, affirm and uphold the ruling of the Court of June 21, 2002, by which he says the Civil Law Court admitted him as Attorney – at – Law, consistent with Section 17 of the New Judiciary Law, to practice law before all the circuit and inferior courts here.
Further, he had requested the court to uphold the mandate of the Supreme Court of Liberia admitting him in 2006, as Counsellor – at – Law of the Supreme Court Bar.
The disgraced presidential nominee Cllr. Nwabudike had also requested that the Civil Law Court in Monrovia declare his citizenship right to enable him continue his law practice here, as lawyers launched a probe into controversies surrounding his Liberian citizenship same which denied him the privilege to chair the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Having worked at Good Governance Commission (GC), the Nigerian – born Cllr. Nwabudike who insists he naturalized in 1982 as Liberian, was serving a tenure as Liberia Anti – Corruption Commission (LACC) chair when President George Manneh Weah appointed him this year to head the NEC, his third job in less than two years.
Until his nomination by President Weah to chair the NEC, Cllr. Nwabudike’s previous confirmation by the Liberian Senate as LACC chair seemed to have gone smoothly without Liberia’s weak system detecting or questioning his acquisition of his Liberian citizenship.
The withdrawal of his petition comes after the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) recently amended its motion filed as an intervener to help the Liberian Government’s fight at the Civil Law Court to dismiss Nwabudike’s petition filed to request the court to declare his Liberian citizenship right.
In the LNBA’s amended motion filed at the Civil Law Court Wednesday, 29 April, the Bar Association insisted that the court lacks the legal capacity to determine Nwabudike’s citizenship because citizenship in the Republic of Liberia cannot be determined by the Civil Law Court or any court sitting in its civil division here.
“Movant now files this Amended Motion to dismiss Respondent/Petitioner’s Petition for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction by this Honorable Court on grounds that this Honorable Court cannot exercise any jurisdiction this …,” the LNBA wrote.
Other than the Civil Law Court lacking subject matter jurisdiction over nationalization and citizenship of aliens, the LNBA further contended that Nwabudike’s petition should be dismissed because he has shown no rights that have been withdrawn from him either by the government, the LNBA or any other entity here.
Previously the LNBA filed a motion before the Civil Law Court arguing that Cllr. Nwabudike has justified sufficiently that he has never been a citizen of Liberia but rather a fake individual and should not be allowed a day in Liberia to be considered a citizen.
The Bar’s contention was that Cllr. Nwabudike has failed and neglected to prove his citizenship before the House of Senate during his confirmation hearing and up to present, has still failed to do so.
It stated that Nwabudike’s Curriculum Vitae is a product of big fraud, thus recommending that he must be penalized by being prosecuted and deported to his native land, Nigeria by the Attorney General of Liberia consistent with Chapter 21, Section 21.10 of the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia.
Prior to filing its amended motion on Wednesday, the LNBA had filed another communication dated 29 April, 2020, informing the Civil Law Court of the Bar’s withdrawal of its previous intervener’s returns, motion to dismiss and motion to dismiss, reserving the right to amend [and] refile.
The LNBA reminded the Civil Law Court that the Supreme Court has held over and over that every court, including the Supreme Court, is duty – bound to first determine its jurisdiction over a given matter because where jurisdiction is wanting, every action taken by the court is null and void ab initio.
Further, the intervener LNBA said the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia provides that exclusive jurisdiction to naturalize persons as citizens of Liberia is conferred upon the circuit courts. In Montserrado County, the LNBA continued, the first judicial circuit shall exercise such jurisdiction, concluding that the Civil Law Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to pass on the nationality of Nwabudike.
During his confirmation hearing at the Senate for the NEC top job, Nwabudike consented that his passport carries October 2, 1963 while his records at the University of Liberia have October 2, 1965, insisting that he did not have control over what is written about him at UL.
Senators and members of the public were concerned that even after naturalization, Nigerians do not forfeit their Nigerian citizenship until they make a declaration renouncing their Nigerian citizenship, and the president registers such declaration in accordance to Article 29 of Nigeria’s Constitution.
His failure to present to the Liberian Senate an evidence that he had renounced his Nigerian citizenship and to show proof that his declaration had been registered by the president of Nigeria appeared to have given the confirmation hearing a suggestion that he may still be enjoying Nigerian citizenship while he carries a Liberian passport.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Othello B. Garblah