Liberia: Under-Fire NEC Nominee Likely to Request Withdrawal After Dismal Showing At Senate's Hearing

Monrovia — Given the abrupt nature of the way the proceedings ended Wednesday and the inconclusive nature the confirmation came to an end, FrontPageAfrica has learned that the most likely scenario that Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike may request President George Manneh Weah to withdraw his nomination.

The confirmation hearing of Nigerian-born as the chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has been drama-filled from the onset. Issues ranging from nationality, naturalization seem to have dented his chances of heading the Elections Commission.

Yet, Wednesday's hearing gave more reasons as to why he may not be confirmed by the Senate - conflicting dates of birth.

Cllr. Nwabudike had had problems with dates from the beginning. On Monday, Senator Varney Sherman picked from the document that he claimed to have naturalized as a Liberian citizen in 1982 when he was 17 years of age. However, the Liberian law requires that anyone with the desire of naturalizing as a citizen of Liberia must be of age 21.

Wednesday came with its own drama also. The Senate was able to uncover several discrepancies and inconsistencies in Cllr. Nwabudike's resume. The Senate uncovered that the NEC chair-designate had a conflicting date of birth.

In a line of questioning from Senator Johnathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County, he (Mr. A. Ndubisi Nwabudike) admitted to inconsistencies in his date of birth. In his passport, his date of birth is 1965, while his university document carried 1963.

He also failed to provide the original naturalization certificate after he was told to bring it during his first appearance.

It became an embarrassing situation when he admitted to inconsistencies in his date of birth on two separate but equally important documents. What was more embarrassing was the manner in which the chairman of the committee ended the hearings after his admittance to the contradictions.

As a lawyer, he knew right away the implications and with such embarrassment learned councilor sat in silence, probably out of words.

"Mr. Nominee we have heard enough, and it is the agreement of this Committee that you be discharged as we go back to our committee to decide, Senator Milton Teahjay, Committee chairman.

During Wednesday's hearing Cllr. Nwabudike was quizzed by Sen. Henry Yallah whether he had with him a copy of the letter renouncing his Nigerian Citizenship. He responded that he did not have a copy of the said letter and that the law does not require him to carry a copy with him.

"What our law provides is that once you have renounced your nationality, it is a clerk of the court that forwards your document to the Attorney General and the Attorney General forwards the document to your country's treasury," he explained.

Meanwhile, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence political leader of the opposition Liberty Party is pushing for the nominee to be charged and prosecuted with perjury for lying under oath at the Liberia Senate.

She wrote in a Facebook post: "Now that it is proven that Mr. A. Ndubisi Nwabudike Is not a Liberian, and cannot hold the position as the chairman on our National Elections Commission, he must be charged with perjury for lying under oath at the Liberia Senate, and must also be charged as a criminal for fraudulent activities."

Also, on Tuesday, the Senate in Executive (Secrete) session voted to confirm five of the nominees to the NEC, but a motion for reconsideration stalled the confirmation of one of the five. Senator Varney Sherman filed a motion for reconsideration against Mr. Floyd Sayon, the current head of the data center nominated to the position of Commissioner.

The Senate's decision was based on reports submitted by the committee which recommended that the nominees met all criteria and asked the Plenary to confirm them to positions nominated to.

A motion for reconsideration is a privilege motion that can be filed by any Senator. A Senator who files a motion for reconsideration has three session days to present and defend his motion for the Senate to reconsider a previous decision. The motion is tried and tested in an open session. This means Sen. Sherman needs to convince half of the 17 Senators who voted for Sayon to be confirmed on reasons why he thinks he must not be confirmed.

LP didn't vote

In the wake of the motion, four Senators of the Liberty Party Caucus to include: Senator Nyounblee Karnga Lawrence (Grand Bassa County), Senator Steve Zargo (Lofa County), Senator Darius Dillon (Montserrado County) and Johnathan Kaipay (Grand Bassa County) issue disclaimer and said they did not vote for Sayon's confirmation.

Senator Steve Zargo who presented the statement on behalf of the party read, "All of us from the Liberty Party voted against the confirmation of Floyd; we all know the history Sayon judging from the recent district 15 by-elections. For others, the majority accepted that they confirm Sayon, we the Liberty party rejected him."

Political Parties presentation

On Tuesday, Political Parties including the ruling CDC were asked by the Senate committee to appear before the committee to provide their opinion on the confirmation of NEC commissioners. Each political party was allowed to speak to the conscience of the Senators on why or why not the nominated chairman and commissioners of the NEC should be confirmed.

All the opposition parties present recommended to the committee that nominees including the Chairman, the Co-Chair and the other commissioners to include; Floyd Sayon and Josephine Kou Gaye be rejected.

For the Liberty party, represented by its Secretary-General, Jacob Smith, pleaded with Committee members not to confirm the individuals because they are not going to represent the national interest.

"We plead with this Honorable Committee and by extension the Liberian Senate to deny the confirmation of the chairman-designate, Mr. Floyd Sayon as well as Ms. Kou Gaye because, in our estimation, these individuals are there to propagate the interest of a particular individual and not in the national interest which is not good for a country emerging from a period of war."

The UP's position presented by Amos Toweh and Mo Ali was specific about Mr. Floyd Sayon, former head of the NEC database whom they accused of being a "fraud" and requested his rejection to avoid future challenges.

UP: "What the Director of the Data Center did as per his records at the NEC shows that he is compromised. This man has been involved with fraud in every election under his watch. We ask that Mr. Floyd Sayon be rejected by this Committee to head the data center of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

"Most of our problems in this country have been as a result of a fraudulent election or irregularities that occur during elections. We will be dumping our Constitution if we are to allow these individuals to preside over elections.

"We're asking this honorable senate to reject three persons; the chairman, Floyd Sayon who has proven that he is a fraud, and Josephine Kou Gaye who has told you she is not qualified for the position."

In the ANC argument, they accused the chairman-designate of committing forgery and should be recommended for the prosecution at the Supreme Court.

ANC: "The ANC is saying the chairman should not be confirmed because he has committed forgery, fraud. He is not a Liberian, because the certificate provided this committee provided evidence of his citizenship. Section 21.7 of the nationality law states that a certificate must have a number of petition on the certificate, the certificate must clearly describe the person, age and former nationality on that certificate, it is not there because it was obtained by fraud.

"Section 2.2 of the election law clearly disqualifies Mr. Sayon because of his lack of integrity, and his failure to take instruction. He has integrity issues and should not be allowed to serve as a commissioner at the NEC. For Madam Josephine Gaye, she said her only experience is that she voted as a registered citizen of Liberia.

"We ask you to kindly refuse these individuals based on the law. The Committee should recommend him for criminal investigation. We are going to petition the Supreme Court to denounce his certificate to practice law. We, the ANC, don't ask you to make a decision based on sentiment but based on the law the people we named are not qualified."

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