Liberia: Justice Minister Responds to Cllr. Syrenius Cephus’ Legal Opinion on Cllr. Nwabudike
Monrovia – Solicitor General Syrennius Cephus remained mute throughout Cllr. A. Nbuisi Nwabudike citizenship saga until the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) through its investigation concluded that the Nigerian lawyer fraudulently obtained his Liberian citizenship and could, therefore, no longer be a member of the national bar.
The LNBA’s conclusion and subsequent decision to expel Cllr. Nwabudike, who went back to head the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) after his flop at the Senate hearing upon his nomination as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), did not come as a surprise to many due to the glaring discrepancies in various documents and his woeful failure to defend how he obtained his Liberian citizenship. The LNBA, however, received applause for being uncompromising on its decision.
However, when the dust was yet to settle, Solicitor General Cllr. Cephus wrote a 10-page document dubbed ‘legal opinion’ which sought to complain Justice Minister F. Musa Dean to the Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill.
It is no secret that Cllr. Cephus and Cllr. Dean have not had a cordial working relationship at the Justice Ministry. They have often gone in different directions on unfolding national issues and the presentation of legal opinions. The Ellen Corkrum recent saga is just one of those.
The Solicitor-General’s qualms stems from the Cllr. Dean’s decision to challenge Cllr. Nwabudike’s petition for Declaratory Judgment filed with the Civil Law Court. For him, the Justice Minister’s failure to intervene from the onset brought the office of the President to public disrepute.
Cllr. Cephus wrote:
Dear Minister McGill:
I feel absolutely disappointed about the seemingly unconventional approach adopted by the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean Jr., in the matter relating to the naturalization controversy of Cllr. A.N. Nwabudike. I do not only reject his decision to openly challenge the citizenship of Cllr. A. N. Nwabudike, a public official duly appointed by Your Excellency (Article 54), and still enjoys Your Excellency’s confidence, and serves at your pleasure (Article 56), but also, I find it difficult if not impossible to affix my signature to the pleadings written by Cllr. Dean and his team of lawyers regarding Cllr. Nwabudike’s petition for a declaratory judgment filed at the Civil Law Court for a number of factual and legal reasons.
“We stand by the position contained in our Resistance to the Petition. Cllr. Nwabudike, conceding the legal soundness of our position, withdrew the Petition for Declaratory Judgment. The issue of the Declaratory Judgment is, therefore, moot”Cllr. Frank Musah Deah, Justice Minister/Attorney General
According to Cllr. Cephus, the Minister of Justice should have taken seized of the naturalization controversy, by making a formal announcement to the effect, in order to save the government, specifically the office of the President from undue public scrutiny and political embarrassment.
He said, he expected the Justice Minister to have launched an investigation into the matter from the onset and subsequently advised the President on the way forward. He also expected that the Justice Minister would have discontinued at any stage any hearing pertaining to the matter before any of the criminal or civil law courts.
He noted that he could not fathom how Cllr. Dean arrived at the conclusion of challenging the naturalization documents of Cllr. A.N. Nwabudke in the absence of any investigation consistent with Title 4 Liberian Codes of Law Revised–Aliens and Nationality Law Section 21.3(2) on the age requirement argument.
However, other documents obtained by FrontPageAfrica revealed that Cllr. Cephus and other state prosecutors were cited for meeting on April 10, 2020 by Justice Minister Dean to discuss the Petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by Cllr. Nwabudike.
Justice Minister Dean informed FrontPageAfrica that Cllr. Cephus failed to register his difference of opinion on the decision to respond to and challenge Cllr. Nwabuidke’s petition against the Government of Liberia, neither did he reference said meeting in his legal opinion to the Minister of State.
Cllr. Dean informed FPA that meeting with prosecutors on April 10 led to the formulation of the Ministry’s response to the Petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by Cllr. Nwabudike.
“We stand by the position contained in our Resistance to the Petition. Cllr. Nwabudike, conceding the legal soundness of our position, withdrew the Petition for Declaratory Judgment. The issue of the Declaratory Judgment is, therefore, moot,” Cllr. Dean said.
For the Solicitor General, Cllr. Nwabudike being an agent of the President, should have been protected by the Justice Minister by not contesting his Petition for Declaratory Judgment.