-Legal Experts Say
The recent appointment of a Nigerian born naturalized citizen as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike has received mixed reactions from the society, but many legal experts from the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) have said there is no law which bars a naturalized person from holding such office in the country.
“As far as the law is concerned, there is absolutely nothing in it to stop any one, especially naturalized person to become chairman of the National Elections Commission. But on his character, that I can not defend, because I do not know much about him,” the lawyer who prefers to remain anonymous said, referring to Ndubusi.
He said, “it’s important for us to know that elections is something very important in any democracy and if the President deems it fit to appoint him as his choice, he knows the reason or reasons. But from the legal point, I think he is free to serve as no law, that I am aware of can top him from becoming the Chairman.”
According to the legal luminary, election matters are very critical in every democratic society and if “a president decides to appoint a person he trusts, then I have no objection to it. Only his character we need to look at.”
Another one said, “Remember it was election matter that brought problem in 1985. He is a good lawyer and as far as I am concerned, I have not seen any law that stops him for holding such position in this country. I think what people should look at now is the legal aspect of it and his past records. If the President sees it fit for him to head it, so be it. For me in this legal profession, I do not see any obstacle on him.”
When this paper spoke with him via mobile phone late Tuesday, this was what he said: “This is not the first time for a Nigerian to come here and naturalized and served this country. Many of them served this country honorably, retired and died here. My uncle Julius Adigibe came to this country around 1949 to 1950. He worked in this country, naturalized in this country; he served this country and became Ambassador at large. He served as Deputy Minister of State without Portfolio in this republic.”
He continued: “Another relative, Edwin Kaliku, came to this country in the early 60s, naturalized and joined AFL and served as Aid de Camp to President Tubman. Another one, Emmanuel Amenn, who naturalized here and went to school here, like me and when he graduated, he was appointed as Deputy Managing Director for Administration for Forestry Development Authority (FDA). His wife, Melisa Ammen, served as member of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia until last year.
“Another distant relative, Chief C. E. Eboma; he was the founder of lotto in this country. He was a Personal Assistant to President Tolbert. I can go on and on. Those are first general Nigerians who came here. He was killed in 72nd during the war along with his family.”
He added “I do not see what this noise about. This is elections when people go vote in the polling booth, where I will not be, the result will be tallied and it will put right there, palatal parties and international observers will be watching it. If there is any malpractice, everyone will know, so what is the issue of? I can not understand what the issue is about. Is it because my name is ugly? If that is the one, I cannot change it. It was given to me. Let them forgive me, the name is not me gave it to myself. If it was given by myself, then you will punish me for it.
AS chairman of NEC, you only report to the legislature.”
He further said “for somebody to be trusted, you have to trust the person first. But again, you have to look at the person track record. If there is anywhere of trustworthiness. When I was in Law school, I was chairman of NEC. I conducted elections and for the first time, we issued certificate.”
Recently, he told a local media that his parents came to Liberia several years ago.
“My nationality is Liberian, let’s settle that and my name is ugly, let’s settle that, this is not the first time. It’s hard to pronounce, but its Ndubusi Nwabudike and my parents came from Delta State in Nigeria.”
He told this paper that his father migrated to Liberia in 1946 because of his wife; the grandmother of his wife was a Gola woman. “She wanted to know her history because she was never in Liberia. So, my father came here to trace that lineage. Unfortunately, he came with only a picture, there wasn’t too much history because the lady in question died young, I think she was 28 or 30. So, after staying here for a while, he started a relationship with President Tubman as a consultant. He also worked for Firestone as consultant. He was in Liberia, he naturalized, became a citizen, some of his crowd at that time were the Jones, Wariebi, Adhigibe, people like Brown, Edwin Kaleku, and many more.”
He added, he stayed in Liberia until 1960 when Nigeria got independence and went back.
According to him, he was born to a father who was Liberian already. “And by our constitution, I really don’t need to naturalize. Our law provides that if one of your parents is Liberian when you are born, you are a Liberian citizen.”
He came to Liberia as a baby when his mother fled Nigeria to Liberia. At maturity age, he decided to become a Liberian
“I decided to be a Liberian and naturalized in my own right as a Liberian citizen – and that made me Liberian.”
He thinks that the issue of nationality is not of concern here as his records are clear.
“In this Supreme Court opinion, my nationality is there because when you apply to sit the bar exam as Counselor at Law at the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will investigate you. They will validate your nationality before you are admitted in the bar. It is already written in the volume, so that issue is settled.”
At his former work place at the United Nations, some of his former work mates had this to say: “I think he is good lawyer. We all worked here in the legal area. One think I know about him is he is hard working and forceful. Whenever he says he wants something to be done, he goes for it at all cost.”
The nominee says what is happening now is based solely on sentiments. “That sentiment is –“This man, his name looks foreign, so he cannot be Liberian. I don’t care if I’m born 200 times in Liberia, so long as my name doesn’t sound like Brown or Jones or something, some people will have problem with that, but that’s not our law. Our law is not sentiment; our law is clear on what is nationality. So, I’d like our people to please look up to the law and judge me, not by the ugliness of my name but by quality of service I will render to the people. I can understand that the position of NEC chairman has political implications, I can understand that politicians are a little bit worried, not because there’s reason for them to be worried but the point is they don’t really know what side I belong to.”