Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Nominee Ndubusi Nwabudike Faces Conflict of Interest Allegations; Integrity Comes under Scrutiny
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three part series delving into the past of a nominee for the post of Chairman of Liberia’s most important anti-graft agency, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)
Monrovia – President George Weah’s nominee as Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, has come under scrutiny amid allegations linking him to alleged conflict of interest and breach of fiduciary duty.
The Nigerian, who is now a naturalized Liberian, was appointed Chairman of the Governance Commission in May 2018, replacing long serving statesman Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer but his confirmation was unsuccessful.
He now faces criticisms for knowingly violating the Constitution by acting in the position of Chairman of Governance Commission for more than 90 days. The Liberian Senate had refused to confirm him although the reason for snubbing him is still unknown.
“I know that he hasn’t been confirmed but don’t know what the reasons are. I know he is a naturalized Liberian by virtue of his practice of law in Liberia he has to be a citizen and only Liberian practice law in this country,” said Senator Conmany Wesseh.
Now with his new nomination at Liberia’s main anti-graft agency, observers are keen on seeing him pass through the microscope by weighing-in on his level of integrity in a country where allegations of corruption and misappropriation in the public sector remain a massive concern.
But what appears to be a corroborated staggering revelation about Cllr. Nwabudike’s role in an admiralty lawsuit, in which he served as a legal counsel and associate to a party, never seems to be going away.
It’s a long story, but the detail is filled with controversies. Howbeit, Cllr, Nwabudike has denied being involved and said he doesn’t even remember the name of the vessel or the saga.
“I don’t know anything about that vessel; I have never heard that name before. its better you check your facts as a journalist,” Cllr. Nwubudike told a FrontPageAfrica reporter who sought a response from him during an interview.
The Low Down
It was in 2004 when a Nigerian vessel named M/V Pots Express was chattered and brought to Liberia by Israel Egware, a Nigerian who was the crew leader.
The vessel was hired for a month. When it arrived, Egware contacted the Montserrado Shipping and Stevedoring Company as a local agent. The agent was made to believe that the vessel was hired for two years and then the local firm signed a year contract.
The ship transported scrap irons from the Greenville Port in Sinoe County to Monrovia for almost a year. Couple of years later, the owners of the vessel back in Nigeria became concerned about its whereabouts.
They then sent one Malachy Anaekwe Williams who followed the vessel to find out what was happening.
Williams then arrived in Monrovia and discovered that the vessel had been subcontracted. He moved to rescue it by working with sub-chatterers.
By then, the crew of 14 men had not taken pay for almost three years. They were worried that the vessel was broken and would sink anytime.
“The lawyer came, reviewed the matter and terminated the contract with Mr. Egwera and drew up a new contract with us [Montserrado Shipping],” recalled a former agent of Montserrado Shipping.
Enters Cllr. Nwubudike
Fast forward to 2007, the ship was even in more peril but there was one last chance to salvage it. A lawsuit was initiated and Cllr. Nwubudike is alleged to have been the lawyer for the shipping line. The case will later become mooted.
Meanwhile, the crew and the local agent were opting for the vessel to be sold so that they would be paid their just benefits.
The courts agreed but with Cllr. Nwubudike, as lawyer of the M/V pots Express in Liberia, it became impossible.
“Nwubudike was Israel’s lawyer and it was the both of them that worked that conspiracy which caused the ship to remain under the sea and was never recovered,” said Malachy Williams, who had arrived in Monrovia back in 2007 to recover the ship.
“Israel went to Nigeria after he was defeated in court and told the owners of the ship a case load of lies and they entrusted him and empowered him to come a salvaged the vessel, which had sunk at the time.”
Meanwhile, the crew in Liberia did not know that over US$80,000 had been disbursed to Israel to salvage the vessel. Israel contacted Nwubudike as a lawyer and he became involved with the case.
At the same time, Amaigwe Vitus, who was later the main vessel representative in Liberia, tried engaging Cllr. Nwabudike to recover the ship while the case was already mooted.
In 2017, Vitus arrived to Liberia to also help salvage the ship but he says his interactions with Cllr. Nwabudike left him wailing.
He alleged: “He invited me to his office at the United Nations for us to make a deal about the vessel that I represented. He used late TC Gould and the influence of Justice Kabinah Jeneh to twist on the matter after Judge Emery Payne rule for the sale of our vessel.”
Mr. Vitus claimed that Cllr. Nwabudike forged a document, and said the vessel belonged to him and Egwera.
“He appeared in the court several times to defend himself while working as a United Nations lawyer, which is against the code of conduct of UNMIL. He told me that if I didn’t leave the vessel to sell and get some money out of it. I will lose it because of his connection as a member of Masonic craft.”
‘He’s Not Honest’
Despite the denial by Cllr. Nwabudike, three of his former acquaintances, especially those who were involved with the vessel and the drama around it, have slammed the LACC Nominee.
“Nwubudike was involved at the beginning when they sued us, he was involved at the end when Israel came with the money from the owners with instructions to see us, work with us and salvage the vessel,” said Malachy.
“Nwubudike is not an honest man,” claimed another former employee of Montserrado Shipping and Stevedoring Company.
“An honest man will not behave like that. He knew this case was in court and his own clients running away and abandoning their own cause, if anyone came back to you, as a professional lawyer, you will provide legal advice the right way and not cause people to lose their livelihood for your own benefit.
“I don’t know how he gets these government’s appointments, and I think he should not be the man heading the LACC.”