The Supreme Court of Liberia has nullified the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) Suspension of former Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Ndubudsi Nwabudike, and has ordered the Ministry of Justice to take seize of the matter and investigate as to whether Nwabudike is a citizen or not.
“The respondent violated Rules 24 &29 (3) of the Code for the Moral and Ethical Conduct of Lawyers when he gave conflicting and inconsistent information, especially about his age and name,” Court opinion in the possession of FrontPageAfrica stated.
According to the Court, the decision taken by the LNBA is tantamount to disbarment, a penalty that can only be imposed by the Supreme Court.
According to the court’s opinion, the LNBA has no authority to conclude that its member citizenship was procured fraudulently, thus expelling that member.
“Though the LNBA has the right to investigate and sanction its members, it is without authority to conclude that a member’s Liberian citizenship was procured through fraud and expel that member from the LNBA to forfeit the rights and privileges that members of the LNBA are entitled to before the courts of the Republic,” the court’s record said.
The Supreme Court further recognized that the LNBA was established by an act of Legislature as the umbrella organization of all lawyers, with an authority to govern the practice of all lawyers, but said LNBA is not clothed with an authority to expelled its a member from law practices.
According to the Supreme Court, said decision only lies in its preview.
The court further noted that as an arm of the court, the LNBA aids the Supreme Court in exercising control, has a Grievance and Ethics Committee, the works of which two organs are not mutually exclusive.
Moreover, the court said its Grievance and Ethic Committee (GEC) investigation cannot be equated to the proceedings required to be commenced by the Attorney General or Minister of Justice as provided by the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia.
“The GEC of the Supreme Court, upon instruction of the court, can investigate any alleged unethical conduct of lawyers, in the instant case, the GEC of the Supreme Court sought to ascertain the authenticity and validity of documents filed by the respondent, especially those documents which facilityyated that respondent’s admission to the practice of law in Liberia, such investigation conducted by the GEC if the Supreme Court cannot be equated to proceedings required to be commenced by the Attorney General/Minister of Justice as provided by the Allien and Nationality Law of Liberia,” the court document stressed.
However, with the Ministry of Justice taking seize of the investigation, and Nwabudike’s synergy with the current government, many in the public believe he might walk a free man.
But the Supreme Court on the orher hand said, while the LNBA decision has been nullllified, it would be also wrong for Nwabudike to continue practicing law when quite clearly the documents he filed which necessitated his admission to the practice of law in Libberia are wrapped in inconsistencies and discrepancies to which he failed to specifically addressed himself before the GEC.
As a result, it has ordered the Attorney General to take seize of the matter and if deem necessary, Institute proceeding to revioke and set aside the orderr admitting the Nwabudike to Liberian Citizenshipnand cancel his certificate of naturalization.
“The ultimate disposition of this matter to it’s logical conclusion rests with the determination of whether the respondent’s Liberian Citizenship was indeed obtained by fraud which conclusion can only be made after the Attorney General/Minister of Justice has instituted a court proceedings in the matter,” the Supreme Court noted.
On the other hand, the court said if the Attorney General or Minister of Justice finds that the order admitting the respondent to Liberian Citizenship was issued through a manifest error of law or fact that can be remedied by procedural means, Nwabudike should be given the opportunity to institute corrective proceedings in consonance with the Alien and Nationalization Law of Liberia.
“The Attorney General/Minister of Justice is to conclude this matter in six months and inform this court of the action taken in the premises,” the court said.
“Meanwhile, the respondent, Cllr. A. Ndubuisi Nwabudike is hereby suspended from the practice of law directly or indirectly in Liberia for six months. His fate and status with the LNBA will abide by the action of the Attorney General/ Minister of Justice.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ordered the Clerk of the court to inform the Attorney General/Minister of Justice, parties to the matter, and all courts across Liberia.