Korkoya Grapples with Dual Citizenship Case

-Replies Civil Law Court to transfer matter to MOJ, Ombudsman

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Cllr. Korkoya wants MoJ or Ombudsman to handle case

Counselor Jerome George Korkoya, chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), has opted for the suit against him at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia to be heard either by the office of the Ombudsman or the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Korkoya’s argument came weeks after the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), an opposition political party, and Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution led by Miatta Fahnbulleh, sued him at the Civil Law Court to disprove allegations about his alleged Liberian and American passports respectively.

The NEC chair’s argument was contained in his reply to the court suggesting that the court desists from handling the matter.

Counselors Tiawan Saye Gongloe and Laveli Supuwood filed the lawsuit on behalf of Fahnbulleh and the NDC, against Korkoya.

Denouncing the court’s authority over the matter, Korkoya’s lead lawyer Cllr. Cooper Kruah challenged the legality of the court to assume jurisdiction over the case on grounds that the allegations are based on “criminality,” which the court cannot hear.

The two entities claimed that Korkoya had violated the Alien and Nationality Law, perjured himself before the Senate, and obtaining a diplomatic passport through fraudulent means.

Korkoya argued further that the same are allegations of criminal activities, which the MOJ has the legal standing to handle.

His lawyer further alleged that the enforcement of the public laws of Liberia lies solely with the Executive Branch of Government, and that Section 22.2 (b) of the Executive Law specifically empowers the MOJ to institute all legal proceedings necessary for law enforcement.

The document also claimed that the office of the Ombudsman has the jurisdiction to hear complaints concerning violation of the national Code of Conduct.

“If they believed that Korkoya violated the Code of Conduct, then it is the Ombudsman that is responsible to decide the matter, not the Civil Law Court,” Cllr. Kruah argued.

He said if the two groups claimed that Korkoya had violated the country’s Labor Laws, then, the Civil Law Court also lacks jurisdiction to hear that allegation, because cases concerning the violation of the Labor Laws lie with the Ministry of Labor, “and any appeal from there should be addressed by the Labor Court.”

Regarding the Fahnbulleh and NDC lawsuit, Korkoya claimed that the two groups also lack the legal strength and moral grounds to prosecute him.

“NDC is not a legally and constitutionally registered political party operating under the laws and Constitution of Liberia, because the same Civil Law Court on October 7, 2016, de-certificated the party,” Korkoya‘s reply alleges.

The court’s decision, Cllr. Kruah claimed, was due to NEC’s February 10, 2014 request filed to that court for revoking of the registration and accreditation of the party, on which the court had acted.

“This means that NDC no longer exist as a legal political party to bring action against the NEC before any court in the country,” the lawyer claims.

The lawsuit against Korkoya alleges that he voluntarily and without duress on December 21, 2007, renounced his duty of allegiance to Liberia and assumed citizenship of the United States of America, and “thereby obtained a US Passport number 467078002, dated March 16, 2010, and thereby renounced his Liberian citizenship in keeping with section 22.1 of the Alien and Nationality Law.”

“His naturalization certificate number is 30628201 and his voter identification number is 150326754,” the suit alleged.

The suit also claimed that Korkoya has grossly violated the tenets of the Code of Conduct in its entirety, particularly, “section 4.3 to exhibit good conduct at all times, both at work and off duty… He or she shall be honest, faithful and just, and shall not act in a manner against the honor or dignity of the public service.”

They again alleged that Korkoya’s conduct as outlined, “falls far short of the honor and dignity contemplated by the Code of Conduct when he deceived the Senate to secure confirmation in violation of the oath that he took to say the truth and nothing but the truth,” adding, “A demonstration of such a character is less than what Liberians expect of their public servants.”

“That by hiding the truth about himself through tricks and artifice, Korkoya did fraudulently succeed in obtaining a confirmation of the Senate to serve as chairman of the NEC, “the petition further alleged, adding “Consequently, Korkoya knowingly, conscientiously and falsely took the oaths of affirmation pursuant to article 97 schedule 1 and 2 of the Constitution.”

The court document claimed that as a foreigner, “Korkoya is not allowed to work in this country without a proper work permit.”

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28 COMMENTS

  1. If all those information supplied about Korkoyah are true, then why can’t he honorably resign? There’s life after NEC. Or he’s waiting for his “Battle of Waterloo”?

  2. The very fact Korkoyah who told his accusers to take him to court is afraid to go to court but begging to be taken to ELLEN’S diabolical Ombudsman office explains the nature and purpose of this Office of Ombudsman!

    • How is he afraid to go to court? You cannot bring a criminal charge (perjury, etc.) before a civil court. Only the state (Ministry of Justice) has authority to bring a criminal charge against a person, and it has to be in a criminal court. Moreover, the labor claims and COC violations have to also be brought before the appropriate adjudicatory bodies.

      A court MUST have subject-matter jurisdiction before it hears any case. That is the issue here. These so-called lawyers brought a number of claims before the wrong court and their complaint must therefore be dismissed on that basis.

      All you conspiracists and anti-Ellen zealots should really stop spewing misinformation to avoid adding undue tension to an already charged election process.

    • The Defendant cannot direct any process of redress. He has to appear before a court bearing jurisdiction over such case filed by the Plaintiffs or by their Legal Counsel. The Ministry of Justice have ensued no investigation or levy warrant to the allegation. Is Kokoya seeking alliance for clearance as to maintain the position at NEC?

      • I’m not sure what you mean by your comment. But what I do know is that, if a case is filed in the wrong court, the defendant can move to dismiss because that court has no subject-matter jurisdiction and therefore cannot hear the case. This is elementary knowledge for lawyers — I don’t suspect that you are one.

        Also, if the MOJ does not bring a criminal charge against Korkoya, no one else has standing to bring such a case. A private citizen cannot bring a criminal charge against another private citizen — only the government has standing to bring a criminal charge against a person. If the government chooses not to bring a charge of perjury against Korkoya, that is the end of the matter. No one else has standing to sue him for perjury.

    • I give the observer credit for reporting from both sides in this article. By doing so we get a better picture of what it happening in court. The plaintiffs accused korkoyah of lying, yet they themselves lied to the court about their standing to sue. Were the plaintiffs’ lawyers not aware that the ndc was decertificated by the very same court last year? Did they not know that when you accused someone of a crime like perjury you must take that person to criminal court or to the labor court for labor issues? I see why the plaintiffs keep running to the media. Their case in the civil court is filled with problems.

  3. No wonder, then, that aunt Ellen is pushing for the urgent extraction of the CoC’s teeth to render it a toothless bull dog – very smart.
    That’s the problem, too smart for her own
    good hence not entertaining any serious advice regarding the suffering of the vast majority, or accepting sobering observations about the huge holes sinking the ship of state.

    Well, a rule of thumb Korkoya and EJS forgot from the very beginning when Dr. Tipoteh et al started alarming about NEC’s “impartiality” with government appointees at its helm, and his citizenship is that “If you are in a hole stop digging”.

    Our fervent prayer though is that as the plot of this drama thickens, the Security Sector would have the moral courage to keep a distance in order to avoid overzealousness which could have turbulent unintended consequences. Democracy is about dialogue, compromise, persuasion, in short, talking, and not shooting.

  4. An American citizen to hold such position? That’s incredible. I think we should be serious in Liberia.

    • This is why some people are requesting the enactment of the Dual Citizenship Law; if this was enacted, we won’t be going through this today. Even though, it is late for this election, same could be put on this ballot to enable the voters to exercise their constitutional rights in this light so that this matter doesn’t show its ugly head in future elections.

  5. A conduct offense can result into both civil and criminal liability, Mr. Lincoln; despite the fact the standard of proof or the punitive measure may be different. Do you remember the OJ Simpson case or the Strauss Khan case? If you want to support wrong doing but have nothing logical to say, you should just keep quiet!

  6. AB,

    Our comment that an offense or conduct can result to both civil and criminal liability is also addressed to you.Hence you should take into account the O.J. Simpson and the Strauss Khan cases in which they were taken to both civil and criminal courts by private citizens and the Justice Dept respectively.

    If you people wrongly thought Supuwood and Gongloe are laymen, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG! THEY ARE LEGAL GIANTS…BOTH HAVE SERVED AS SOLICITOR GENERAL OF LIBERIA! KORKOYAH’S DAYS AT THE NEC ARE NUMBERED!

    • Yes, you are correct that a single conduct can result in both civil and criminal charges. However, the civil charge must be brought before a civil court, while the criminal charge brought before a criminal court. You mentioned OJ Simpson. Yes, the government brought the murder charge (a criminal offense) before the criminal court. The family of the deceased brought a wrongful death action (a civil suit) before the civil court.

      One of Gongloe and Supuwood’s claims here is that Korkoya perjured himself before the Senate. Perjury is a criminal offense in the Liberian legal system. Gongloe and Supuwood, therefore, cannot bring a charge of perjury before this civil court — they have no standing to bring a criminal charge against another private citizen and the civil court has no subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a case alleging perjury. I hope you understand now.

  7. I have been following the Korkoya case. It saddens me that a significant number of Liberians continue to fear the idea of dual citizenship, either because of our history or because of lack of understanding of the benefits that dual citizenship brings to a nation. Several years ago, during my initial return to Liberia after studying in the US for two years, I arrived in Accra, Ghana. Those days, there was still war in Liberia – the country I loved so much. But I could not return home. So my trip would take me to the Buduburam refugee camp where my team worked with Liberian refugees. My trip ended on the edges of the Liberian border in the Ivory Coast before returning to the US to complete my studies. It would take ten long years before my first return to a country that I never forgot. Approximately 95% of all the money I made during my college years were sent to help my refugee family and friends in the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Liberia. Looking back, I still remember the difference between my first entry into Ghana and my first return to Liberia. At the airport in Ghana, the Ghanain custom officers were shocked that I had not become a US citizen, although I had been in the US for just two years. They encouraged me and begged me to try to obtain my citizenship when I returned back to the US because they claimed it would be good for Liberia and for Africa as a whole. I first returned to Liberia when Gyude Bryant was the president of Liberia. I was ecstatic to shake his hand. As he was on the same flight I was flying after ten long years away from home. I was ecstatic to be on Liberian soil after studying and working in the US for ten long years. At the airport, the Liberian custom officers could be heard say, “That American man need to stand over there.” I was carrying a Liberian passport, you know. But to all my brothers, my new found accent made me an “American man.” What they did not know was that a few years earlier, an American lawyer I visited encouraged me to become a US citizen to eradicate the difficulties I faced living on a student visa in the US. I refused because of my strong love for Liberia. But there I was, in a country I had sent all of my hard earned income to save “Liberians – my people” and now I was been labelled by “my own people” as an “American”. Oh how so different, I thought, we Liberians are compared to our neighbors who welcome their citizens with openness and embrace after they succeed in becoming citizens of western nations. As I write, “the American man” will be sending funds to help pay for the graduation expenses of a close relative. This week I will also be sending funds for the funeral expenses of another relative that died. In the next couple of months, I will be sending funds to help another relative open a commercial center to earn an income to feed a multitude of family members who still depend on us here. It seems this is the time we are real Liberians, when we send money back home.
    Years back, I still left Liberia with a heavy heart and optimism that Liberians will catch on, as they get exposed to what makes a country great and how competition, education, and citizenship can grow a nation.
    I can now say that many of us Liberians who have traveled to other African countries, and particularly to Accra in recent years and seen the vast developments can attribute it to the open-mindedness of Ghanaians. They have not lost their heritage, but they are forward thinking, and we can see it in contrast to what we are as Liberians. As I write this, I am still optimistic that Liberian laws will change soon to allow those born in Liberia who fled the brutality of the war and naturalized in other countries to enjoy their birth rights as citizens of Liberia. Otherwise Liberians will miss the good that Liberian Americans have to deliver. Liberians have seen the selfishness of some Liberians who have returned from the US, who have stolen and embezzled government resources. Corruption is not an American-Liberian problem. It is a human disease that is rooted in Liberia and every country in the world. However, it is also true that there are upright Liberian-Americans who have a deep sense of love for their country, who have a lot to contribute but who may choose to live their lives in the US if Liberians do not grow up.
    I did not address the Korkoya issue in this discussion because I do not have all the facts. But having grown up in Liberia, I know that there is fire underneath a lot of smoke that comes out of the country. Liberians need to wake up to the TRUTH that there are several individuals in Liberian in senior level position who have dual citizenship from Canada, the US, Australia and other European nations. But they cannot disclose this because of our archaic laws. Just see what will happen to the country if all of these people are extracted from civil service positions. Today it is Korkoya! Who will it be tomorrow? I believe that the rebuilding of Liberia cannot happen without Liberians who reside in the diaspora. So wake up my people and give your sons and daughters their birthright.

  8. If you would initially claim an offence or conduct cannot be both civil and criminal, it is not surprising you believe two prominent Liberian lawyers who are bonified Liberian citizens and politicians, together with a civic organization and a political COALITION (NDC) can not have standing to argue in the public interest in support of their CLAIMS JUSTIFYING THE COURT’S REMEDIAL POWERS. Your knowledge of the law is simply elementary.

    • You obviously have a comprehension problem. Nowhere did I write initially that a conduct cannot give rise to both a criminal and civil charge. What I wrote was “you cannot bring a criminal charge (perjury) before a civil court.” The plaintiffs here are suing someone for committing perjury. Perjury is a criminal offense. It cannot be brought before a civil court. Gongloe and Supuwood are not exactly whom I would describe as “prominent Liberian lawyers.” Their filing of this case is evident of that. They did not even take the time to know that the very same NDC is no longer a political party because it was decertified by the very same court. Anyway, this discussion is going nowhere.

  9. And as for you Mr./Ms. Concerned Citizen,

    Any state, nation, or country, WHETHER sovereign or not, which compromises it’s immigration laws because of sentiments or whichever, is like one who sells his soul to gain the whole world. Jerome KORKOYAH’S conduct has simply proved him to be worst than an arm robber, hence UNFIT to even be mentioned amongst members of the noble profession of Law. That indecent thing calling himself NEC chairman is only not behind bars now because Ellen Johnson Sirleaf IS NOT A DECENT HUMAN BEING! PERIOD!

    • You still do not understand here why some Liberians became naturalized citizens of other countries. The US and other forward thinking countries allow dual citizenship. I guess Liberians are the brightest leaders of the world, by revoking citizenship from native born Liberians who fled the war, made meaningful contribution to the countries that took them in, and have a sincere desire to return to their homeland to help.

  10. They became naturalized citizens of those countries for economic reasons! It is only you it seems do not know or “understand why some Liberians became naturalized citizens of those countries”. If this were not the case they would have by now denounced those citizenship and reacquired their abandoned Liberian citizenship!

    • Is there a structure in Liberia to allow well-meaning Liberians to denounce their citizenship? The claim that Liberians became citizens of other countries is a narrow vision of why Liberians fled Liberia during the height of the crisis. I think I remembered people dying in Liberia. Liberia became a violent nation where death and dying was commonplace. Wise people run from bullets not towards it. With the burden on our West African neighbors who also struggled to provide for their own citizens, wealthy nations such as the US, Canada, and Australia were gracious to provide a safe haven to leave the refugee camps. Many of us expected the war in Liberia to last a year or less but it continued for more than a decade. So what do wise people do? Sit and cross their legs in these countries without becoming a part of the fabric of the society, or even getting an education to make meaningful contribution to their new homes? Many Liberians did just that. If you’ve not lived outside of Liberia and West Africa you may not have the slightest understanding of how immigration works in Western nations and the difficulty that one faces if they choose to remain eternal refugees. So claiming Liberians who naturalized in these countries did it purely out of economic reasons is a flawed argument. And even if some did, the remittances they sent back home is what kept millions of Liberians alive in a country that at one point had a 95% unemployment rate. So think hard and be slow to cast the first stone.

  11. AB PRO “ELLEN ZEALOT”,

    Given the context, its a waste of time and ink to have the “discussion go further”, for this statement of yours quoted below tells any intelligent mind or lawyer of your OBVIOUS limitations on the subject matter.

    “A private citizen cannot bring a criminal charge against another private citizen — only the government has standing to bring a criminal charge against a person. If the government chooses not to bring a charge of perjury against Korkoya, that is the end of the matter. No one else has standing to sue him for perjury.”

    WHAT!!! SO YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE JURIPRUDENTIAL DOCTRINE OF CITIZEN SUIT!!! IF YOU HAD ANY KNOWLEGE ABOUT CITIZEN SUITS YOU WOULD APPRECIATE AS TO WHY THE TWO FORMER SOLICITOR GENERALS OF LIBERIA TOOK THE CASE TO THE CIVIL COURT INSTEAD OF THE CRIMINAL COURT!

    The fact that Jerome Korkoyah shall later be charged for perjury by a criminal court, does not necessarily mean this is what the suit taken against him is about. The suit taken against Korkoyah to the civil court, is a suit to have the court enforce that constitutional or statutory law which Korkoyah has violated!!!! THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT BY CITIZEN SUIT!

    And This is why Korkoyah cannot and did not make the contention or argument you are making about “standing and criminal court”!! Rather he is tacitly begging to be taken to where he believes he may have soft landing.

    While A CITIZEN SUIT does not supplant governments legal action, it supplements needed government action.

    So you see, by all implications on your part, we are right to inform you that you initially claimed an offence or conduct cannot be both civil and criminal.

  12. What is the legislature doing about this issue? Why haven’t they set up a committee to investigate this matter. This fellow is a Liberian, but Liberia has not approve dual citizenship so if he’s actually naturalized in the USA then he’s not qualify to oversee the national elections.

  13. The legislature is controlled By Ellen´s Unity Party and so has no interest in investigating the matter but endorsing the Unity Party for another 12 years…24 in total. This is why neither Joseph Boakai nor his Unity Party is good for Liberia any longer!

    The Code of Conduct Law, the Office of Ombudsman, and the appointment of an alien or mercenary (Jerome Korkoyah) as Chairman of NEC are all SCHEMES of Ellen to be able to choose who becomes the next President BUT IT BACFIRED AGAINST HER! The head of the Office of Ombudsman should tell you why that office has been established. Or better still, the fact that Jerome Korkoyah is afraid to face CITIZEN SUIT but wants their kangaroo office of Ombudsman should ring a bell for all!!!

    Ellen and Amos Sawyer are only fighting to flout the Supreme Court´s ruling because with Section 5.1, and 5.2 of the COC Ellen´s surrogates—Brumskine´s running mate Karnweay, ANC Cummings, and Sawyer´s friend Mills Jones who Ellen initially intended to handicap would have to wait for the next election. And once all her surrogates are out, she is doomed to go to prison for her war crimes and massive corruption after she is stripped of powers.

    Describe Jerome Korkoyah as a MERCENARY who Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed as Chairman of the NEC to ensure that she Ellen decides who succeeds her! It is the same with this her so called Office of Ombudsman…set up after 10 years of her 12 years to serve as a kangaroo court for her personal interest. Dr. Tipoteh sensed this, and so did not hesitate to BLOW ALARM ON JEROME KORKOYAH—ELLEN´S MERCENARY HEADING THE NEC!

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