In the wake mounting calls from the Liberian public for President Weah to rescind his nomination of a Nigerian-born lawyer to serve as Chairman of the National Elections Commission, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) has petitioned the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies and Commissions to revoke the confirmations of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike and Mr. Floyd Sayor on legal and ethical grounds.
Nwabudike and Legality
The ANC in a March 27 letter addressed to Senator J. Milton Teahjay protested that the nomination of Cllr. Nwabudike is in violation of Elections Law of Liberia, amended 2003 and 2004 and published 2011, which requires for “the commissioners of NEC to be Liberian citizens ONLY and not be less than thirty-five (35) years of age.
In its summation to the Honorable Senate, the ANC stated that Cllr. Nwabudike is a citizen of Nigeria by birth pursuant to Section 25 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which makes “every person born in Nigeria before or after the date of independence and every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria” a “citizen by birth”.
Arguing further, the ANC said Cllr. Nwabudike has not renounced his Nigerian citizenship by making a declaration in keeping with the prescribed manner for the renunciation of his citizenship under the Nigerian law (Section 29 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria). Petitioner says that in order for Cllr. Nwabudike’s Nigerian Citizenship to have ended, he was required to “make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation” (Section 29(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“Cllr. Nwabudike has failed to provide any evidence whatsoever that the President of Nigeria did or has caused the declaration made by Cllr. Nwabudike, assuming without admitting he did, to be registered and upon such registration, Cllr. Nwabudike’s citizenship has ceased to exist (Section 29(2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria,” the ANC stated, noting that in consequence of Cllr. Nwabudike’s failure and/or refusal to provide any evidence to the contrary or that, assuming without admitting, Cllr. Nwabudike did renounce his Nigerian citizenship, there is no record that the President of Nigeria at any time did cause Cllr. A. Nwabudike’s declaration to be registered and without such registration, Cllr. Nwabudike remains a Nigerian citizen.
Going further, the ANC stated that other than a person who obtains a Nigerian citizenship by the grant of a certificate of naturalization, no Nigerian, who is a citizen by birth, can forfeit his/her Nigerian citizenship (Section 28(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the Dual Citizenship Proposition recently passed by the Legislature and signed by President Weah, for a referendum, allows that a Liberian born to both or one parent with citizenship of another country will be given dual citizenship but will not be appointed to certain government positions. The reasoning is that, being a citizen of two countries, such person will also have dual allegiances. This reasoning is not irrelevant. Cllr. Nwabudike is a Nigerian citizen who has naturalized as a Liberian, hence, he holds dual citizenship and dual allegiances, as the Nigerian law does not revoke the Nigerian citizenship of any of their citizens who acquires another nationality,” the ANC said.
Based on these legal ramifications, the ANC pointed that Cllr. Nwabudike is clearly prohibited from being a commissioner of NEC because Liberia’s laws prohibit a person with a different nationality, as Cllr. Nwabudike, from occupying such position, in accordance with Section 2.3 of the Elections Law of Liberia, the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, as well as the Aliens and Nationality Law which prohibits a Liberian citizen from maintaining two citizenships at the same time.
Nwabudike and Morality
Further strengthening its argument, the ANC, quoting an October 24, 2019 FrontPageAfrica newspaper article, indicated how Cllr. Nwabudike’s actions in a case regarding a Nigerian vessel, M/V Pots Express highlighted his involvement in fraud, conflict of interest, and acting in bad faith.
“Also, recently, while serving as the Executive Director of the Good Governance Commission, Cllr. Nwabudike, served as President Weah’s Legal Advisor, in the illegal and ill-fated Jordanian Airport Handling Contract with the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA)—a clear conflict of interest. He prepared the Agreement and argued for the President to use his power to force the Manager of the LAA to sign—regardless of the fact that the management’s reluctance to sign was based on the lack of due diligence in the procurement process. The LAA Manager was called to Minister Nathaniel McGill’s office and made to sign the Agreement, under duress,” the ANC stated.
Nominee Floyd and the case of Integrity, Good Character and Judgment
In the case of the second individual fingered in its protest to the Honorable Senate, the ANC said Mr. Floyd Sayor should be rejected because he has shown lack of integrity, good character and judgment during his time at the NEC.
In its summation, the ANC cited how The Daily Observer carried an investigative story in its August 15, 2019 Edition, captioned: “Why District #15 Rerun was Ordered”, in which Cllr. Mauana S. Ville, Dispute Hearing Officer in the case between ALP’s Telia Urey and the ruling CDC, stated the reasoning for the rerun as follow:
“In his delivery of the verdict, Cllr. Ville said that the chief reason for calling a rerun of election in all quarantined polling places is because the Director of NEC Data Center, Floyd Sayor compromised the integrity of the District #15 polls by failing to obey instructions from his immediate boss, to quarantine ballots from the polling places where irregularities were said to have occurred and withhold the inclusion of votes from those areas from the final tally, until all such complaints had been addressed.”
The ANC said these grave allegations against Mr. Sayor were never refuted at any time. More importantly, the ruling of the Dispute Hearing Officer was affirmed and the rerun or the election was ordered and held.
“ANC cannot, in good faith, as a nation and a people, allow Mr. Sayor, an individual with such record of blatant disregard for authority; someone who carelessly handled the supervision of elections, to be given a seat on the commission that manages elections in our democracy. Hence, the law requires that a nominee is required to “be of good moral character” (Section 2.2 of Elections Law of Liberia),” stated the ANC.
In conclusion, the ANC stated categorically that the lack of the required qualifications, poor character and judgement of Cllr. Nwabudike and Mr. Sayor deem them unfit to hold the positions as Chairman and Commissioner of the NEC respectively, therefore beseeching the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies and Commissions to reject their nominations.
The ANC said it is prepared to present to the Committee additional testimonies as to the lack of qualification of Cllr. Nwabudike and Mr. Sayor, if provided the opportunity.