Korkoya Citizenship Saga Reaches Senate

-Chair on Senate Rules, Order and Administration seeks investigation on if he lied to the Senate

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The plenary of the Senate through a unanimous vote yesterday mandated its Committees on Autonomous Commission and Agencies, and Judiciary to investigate persisting reports that Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), holds an American passport, making him a citizen of that country.

The decision was taken during the Senate’s first sitting after returning from a two-week Easter break.

The Senators’ decision yesterday came after a lengthy debate on if the first branch of the government has the constitutional right to intervene in a matter that lies within the purview of the third, the Judiciary Branch.

The debate was prompted by a communication from Lofa County Senator George Tengbeh in which he requested the Senate’s plenary to mandate its committees to thoroughly investigate the allegation and all matters relating to the NEC, including the current status of the Commission, and the total number of registered voters for the upcoming elections.

“As we may all know, the October elections are drawing closer each day. Therefore, it is expedient to know the challenges facing the Commission for our intervention where necessary in order to have peaceful, fair and transparent elections,” Senator Tengbeh noted.

Sen. Tengbeh chairs the Senate Committee on Rules, Order and Administration. He recalled that during his confirmation hearing, Chairman Korkoya denied being a holder of any other passport besides his Liberian passport, under oath.

“In the wake of such allegations by some citizens that Chairman Korkoya is an American citizen, it is prudent that this Senate performs its oversight duties and inform its citizens,” Tengbeh said.

He reminded his colleagues that the Executive Branch of government nominates, for which the Senate is mandated to conduct confirmation hearings.

“If one of those whom we confirmed is alleged to be what he denied before us that he was not, the right thing to do is cite him to ascertain whether he maintains what he told us under oath,” Tengbeh said.

Meanwhile, Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson (PYJ) told plenary that those who have a problem with Cllr. Korkoya have pieces of evidence that will soon be presented to the court, although he did not elaborate.

For his part, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay, like his colleague from Bong County, argued that the Senate must not be seen doing the work of the courts that have the right to validate or void citizenship.

Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, however, challenged her colleagues that the issue about dual citizenship, which is before the Legislature, is a serious matter that needs to be handled now.

She said the issue will put to rest ongoing debates on the issue.

“Either the Executive investigates, or those who have evidence against Korkoya go to court. It is criminal if proven that he lied under oath to the Senate. The Senate cannot take the responsibility of the third branch of government. This matter does not belong here,” added Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown.

Meanwhile, the two committees are requested to report to plenary within two weeks.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Is it the duty of the third Branch to investigate those who appeared before the Legislature and confirmed but turned out to be lies, is that what Rep. J. Gbleh -bo-Brown saying? It is simple.
    If anyone appeared before the National Legislature and lied under oath, it is the Legislature to
    investigate that official, not the Executive.

  2. The question is did Mr. Korkoya lie under oath by not disclosing his citizenship status during his confirmation hearing? This is one reason why this case should be taken to court.

  3. Instead of launching an investigation that will yield no substantive results, the Liberian Senate should investigate itself and explain to the Liberian people and the world why each member makes over “$1,200.00 US” a month in a country where the ordinary people live on less than “$0.50 US” a month. NOW, THAT’S REAL INVESTIGATION RIGHT THERE…

  4. Determining “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is the prerogative of the court. Senators are not judges, to determine matters of this nature. The Senate is not a court room. If anyone has a case against Cllr. Korkoya, let him or her go to Court. It is our courts that are clothed with the authority to adjudicate matters of this nature and not our Corrupt Senate or senators most of whom have little or no idea about legal procedures.

  5. A stitch in time saves nine, the Senate is clothed with oversight authority, and has investigative prerogatives on matters such as the Korkoya issue. Kicking the can down to the judiciary is not only unnecessary procrastination, but also undermines the national aspiration for suspicion – free, and, therefore, violence – free elections.

    Undoubtedly, the naivete and levity by which some politicians approach issues of existential implications are mind-boggling. Not to mention that, as usual, EJS might even instruct the NEC Chairman to ignore the summon from the Senate. This is what happens under a political leadership which isn’t responsive, responsible, and accountable.

  6. Korkoya also has a right to refuse to answer questions or testify unless he’s compelled by a court of law. So you can call him all you want, but he has a right to refuse to answer your questions pertaining to any legal issue (i.e., lying under oath, whether or not he’s a Liberian) because the Senate is not a court of law.

    Also, how did they get a unanimous votes if all the five Senators who spoke, according to this article, seem to be saying this is a legal issue for the courts?

  7. “The Law” must be obeyed no matter what! If he, Korkoya, perjured himself under oath, he must resign. No question. No one is above the law regardless of status or the immediacy of their job. I would like to caution Liberians living in Liberia not to disadvantage themselves by disowning native Liberians who have dual citizenship. Liberia need a whole lot of expertise. Your native sons and daughters who have succeeded in other “First World” countries have much to offer if they are not corrupt. The education, experiences, resources, etc. acquired by your sons and daughter abroad are extremely valuable to the country. Common example, all the “native born” senators who confirmed Korkoya didn’t know “how-to” vet Korkoya before confirmation. Now they are interested in investigation? It’s too late. The entire senate lack the governmental experience of simple background check and vetting political appointees credentials.

  8. SMH, a third world country ( Liberia ) that fought a brutal tribal war and had the Ebola virus outbreak had scared away foreign investment and reduced the country’s human resource capacity is refusing to allow professional Liberians from overseas who are capable of putting the country on the map again from contributing. Good Luck Mama Liberia! it shows how low our mindsets are. In a US passport, your country of birth is there. Do you know who is not a liberian? JJ Roberts and his funny friends birthdays we celebrate.

  9. The Senate is playing its rightful constitutional role and must be applauded for taking leadership on a matter that has all the signs of a creating an existential crisis that could undermine a very fragile peace environment.

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