Human Rights Lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe yesterday told the Daily Observer that Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, chairman of the National Elections Commission may have committed perjury, if it is established that he holds a U.S. passport.
Cllr. Gongloe said in a telephone interview yesterday that Section 2.3 of the Elections Laws of Liberia speaks of the qualifications of appointees to the NEC and they clearly state that “Every Commissioner shall be a Liberian citizen, be of age not less than 35, and shall be of good moral character.
Several local dailies have published reports alleging that the NEC Chair holding two passports, one ECOWAS (Liberian) and the other from the United States of America.
“Our constitution forbids foreigners from serving as commissioners of the NEC, simply because it has to do with trust and credibility,” he noted. “If it is true that he is an American citizen, then it means that Cllr. Korkoya cannot preside over our elections if his loyalty is to another country.”
During his confirmation hearing at the House of Representatives, Cllr. Korkoya informed lawmakers that he is a Liberian citizen and did not reveal his American connection. For lying under oath, the law states that he may face the charge of ‘perjury’ and may be declared unqualified to head the NEC and must be subsequently removed from the position.
Cllr. Korkoya recently promised to strongly uphold the Code of Conduct Law against politicians vying for both the Presidential and Legislative seats.
A local daily displayed what some believe to be Korkoya’s American and Liberian passports, both having the same biodata, with the purported US passport issued in the year 2010 and set to expire in 2020.
Cllr. Korkoyah could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for NEC declined to comment, referring to the issue as “a personal matter.”
Cllr. Gongloe said while it may be assumed that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf might not have known about Korkoya’s dual citizenship, she is obliged by law to make sure the constitution is adhered to.
“The President needs to call Cllr. Korkoya to find out in the soonest possible time as to whether the report about him holding a U.S. passport is true and, if true, then she has to remove him from the position,” he said.
Cllr. Korkoya said recently on the Truth Breakfast Show that he will uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Code of Conduct.
“What the NEC will be doing is to obey the court’s opinion and comply strictly with its interpretation of the Code of Conduct. I don’t want to comment on this further but I can tell you this: Whatever the Supreme Court says will be followed to the letter,” he said. And now with claims that he holds a US passport, many are wondering how he would enforce the law.
Also facing perjury investigation could be Senator George Manneh Weah, Political leader of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), who is also allegedly in possession of an American passport.
The Daily Observer received an anonymous tip with an attached biodata page of a US passport allegedly belonging to Sen. Weah. The alleged passport displays an issuance date on May 3, 2013 and an expiration date of May 2, 2023.
However, his office spokesperson, who responded angrily via mobile phone last night, while refusing to state his name, told this newspaper that reports about Senator Weah holding a U.S. passport was no longer news to the public.
“This thing has nothing to do with the public, my friend,” the spokesperson replied furiously before hanging up the phone.
With 19 political parties and candidates – according to the National Elections Commission (NEC), in a country of 4.6 million people, Liberia is confronted with an electioneering calamity since many of those especially aspiring for the presidency are under threat of being declared ineligible for a number of reasons including apparent failure to meet code of conduct compliance or alleged constitutional violation.
This is Weah’s is vying for the presidency on the ticket of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
This is his second bid for the presidency. The first time he ran for president was in 2005. He ran as vice standard bearer in the 2011 elections to Cllr. Winston Tubman under the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change.
“Holding a US passport means Weah has given up his Liberian citizenship, and therefore, he cannot contest for office in a Liberian election under the country’s Constitution and election laws. Doing so would be in violation of the Aliens and Nationality Law, which stipulates, that any Liberian who naturalizes or fights for a foreign army loses his or her citizenship,” an informed source said.
Although the puzzle of when he acquired his U.S. citizenship looms, his American passport was however issued in 2013, before he ran for the Senate in 2014, which made him ineligible to run for public office in Liberia.
Senator Weah’s U.S. citizenship is “no longer secret,” according to the CDC spokesman, but it brings home the fact that he lied to the NEC, his party and the Liberian people by impersonating as a Liberian citizen and unlawfully ran for public office; participating in politics; meddling into the country’s politics as a leader of a political party and attempting to contest for president in October 2017.
It may be recalled that Madam Elizabeth Russell, former president of Tubman University, Maryland County told the Senate at her confirmation hearing for the post of Minister of Education in 2016 that she held a U.S. citizenship. Her honesty on the matter resulted in her nomination being unanimously rejected by the Senate.
Meanwhile, efforts, including phone calls and text messages to Cllr. Korkoya to respond yesterday proved futile as his phone was off till press time.