By Abednego Davis
National Elections Commission (NEC) chairman Jerome G. Korkoya challenged political parties, individuals, and organizations demanding to know if he ever took American citizenship to take him to court, but when what he had requested took place yesterday at the Supreme Court, he broke down in tears.
The drama unfolded when Korkoya went to court to defend himself against one of several lawsuits filed against him alleging that he holds dual citizenship while serving as NEC chairman.
In tears, Cllr. Korkoya declared: “This is a dangerous game against me.”
He said that the lawsuit against him “is a clever attempt by politicians to take away my Liberian citizenship and to make me stateless, which decision I do not want for this court to be a part of.”
The lawsuit was filed by Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, a presidential hopeful in the upcoming elections.
Tipoteh’s lawsuit seeks the intervention of the Supreme Court to prohibit Korkoya, as NEC chairman, from conducting the October elections, because he is a citizen of the United States by his alleged possession of that country’s passport and for voting in US elections.
Meanwhile, judgment on whether or not Korkoya cannot continue to serve as chairman of the NEC was yesterday reserved by Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks.
Further to his argument, Korkoya said Dr. Tipoteh lacks the legal capacity to determine whether or not he is a citizen. “It is the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice that have the right under the law to take away anyone’s citizenship and not any individual. Nowhere in the world can an ordinary person ask for another citizen to lose his or her citizenship. It is the government that has the right to do so.”
He added, “If Tipoteh has any issue with my citizenship let him take it up with the government and leave me alone.”
Korkoya argued that if the Supreme Court agrees with Tipoteh’s lawsuit, they would be setting a “bad precedent” for anyone to challenge another person’s citizenship.
He pleaded with the Supreme Court saying, “Do not allow Tipoteh to succeed in this lawsuit.” Despite Korkoya’s plea, he was unwilling to provide an answer to the issue at stake: do you hold an American passport or not?
Beside Tipoteh’s lawsuit, Korkoya has another case pending at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia, for which a ruling is expected to be delivered this week.
The lawsuit at the Civil Law Court was filed against Korkoya by the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), an opposition political party, and Madam Miatta Fahnbulleh, executive director for Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution.
The lawsuits against Korkoya were filed by Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe (on behalf of Tipoteh, NDC, and Fahnbulleh.) In Tipoteh’s lawsuit, he contends that Korkoya cannot continue to serve as chairman of the NEC because he is a citizen of the United States.
Cllr. Gongloe argued that in order for the results of the national elections to be considered credible, the legal capacity of persons conducting the elections, especially its chairman, who speaks for the Board of Commissioners and presides over its meetings, must not in any respect be in doubt.
“NEC requires that all candidates and voters participating in the 2017 presidential and representative elections to comply with the Election Laws of Liberia and for the Commission to have the moral authority to rigorously enforce all provisions of said law, the Commission and its members must obey, abide by and comply with every provision of the Election Laws of Liberia,” Gongloe further argued.