The opposition National Democratic Coalition (NDC) represented by two leading lawyers has sued Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) before the Civil Law Court in Monrovia for holding U.S. citizenship which disqualifies him to be NEC Commissioner.
The lawsuit against Korkoya came weeks after he openly challenged anyone to take him to court to prove allegations that he holds United States and Liberian citizenships.
Counselors Tiawan S. Gongloe and Laveli Supuwood last week filed a petition for Declaratory Judgment against Korkoya at the Civil Law Court to prove his dual citizenship status.
A ‘Declaratory Judgment’ is the legal determination of a court that resolves legal uncertainty for the litigants.
It is also a form of legally binding preventive decision by which a party involved in an actual or possible legal matter can ask a court to conclusively rule on and affirm the rights, duties, or obligations of one or more parties in a civil dispute.
Gongloe and Supuwood brought the action against the NEC chairman on behalf of National Democratic Coalition (NDC) an opposition political party and Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution of Liberia of Culture Ambassador Miatta Fahnbulleh.
In the lawsuit, the pair allege that Korkoya deliberately concocted, conceived, deceived and ipso facto lied to the Senate by declaring and insisting that he is a Liberian citizen when all along, he allegedly knew these facts to be false.
“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 alleges.
“Consequently, Korkoya knowingly, conscientiously and falsely took the following oath of affirmation pursuant to article 97 schedule 1 and 2 of the constitution,” it added.
Article 97, 1 and 2 provides that “This schedule shall form and be an integral part of this constitution and shall have the same force as any other provision thereof.
“All public officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, holding office of public trust, shall subscribe to a solemn oath or affirmation as follows.
“I do solemnly swear (affirm that I will support, uphold, protect and defend the constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia, bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic, and will faithfully, conscientiously and impartially discharge the duties and functions of the office of chairman of the national elections commission to the best of my ability so help me God.”
They further allege that evidence available to them show that Korkoya was born on December 24, 1961 in Gbarnga, Bong County and he was a Liberian citizen and did owe duty of allegiance to the Liberian State.
However, the lawsuit claims that “Korkoya voluntarily and without duress on December 21, 2007, renounced his duty of allegiance to the Republic of Liberia and assumed the citizenship of the United States of America, thereby obtaining a United States Passport number 467078002, dated March 16, 2010, thereby renouncing 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.”
They also claim that in furtherance of the evidence of Korkoya’s American citizenship, he has voted in a number of elections held in that country as a member of the Democratic Party, “having first registered to vote on July 1, 2008.”
“To accomplish his greed and wicked desire to dupe the country,” the record alleges, “Korkoya, with tricks and artifice, fraudulently deceived and manipulated authorities of the Liberian Government to obtain a Liberian Diplomatic Passport number D001973 dated May 27, 2013.”
They also allege that since then he has been, and continues to impersonate as a Liberian citizen in violation of section 12.32 of the Penal Code of Liberia.
Pointing out that Cllr. Korkoya has grossly violated the tenets of the Code of Conduct in its entirety, the lawyers pointed particularly to “Section 4.3” which states that “an appointed Liberian government official shall 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 allege 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 as maintained to secure confirmation, in violation of the oath that he took to say the truth and nothing but the truth. A demonstration of such a character is less than what Liberians expect of their public servants.”
The document continues: “With these revelations, it is clear that Korkoya is not a Liberian citizen and therefore, legally and constitutionally unqualified to preside over the National Elections Commission as chairman as that position is reserved for Liberians only, and not foreigners such as the Respondent, as provided by section 2.3 of the Elections Law.”
Explaining about the NEC, the lawsuit alleges that “it is the arm of government mandated solely to conduct and manage all matters relating to elections and in that regard, to ensure that the tenets of the constitution are fully observed.”
The court record alleges that the referenced mandate includes protection of the rights of every Liberian to participate in the national decision—making process.
Thus, the lawsuit said “It behooves upon the NEC the duty to execute those mandates in accordance with the relevant provisions of the constitution and statutory laws dealing with elections.”
This principle is particularly amplified in article 77 of the constitution thus said: “Since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political parties and political groups as well as by individuals, parties may freely be established to advocate the opinion of the people. Laws, regulations, decrees or measures which might have the effect of creating a one party state shall be declared unconstitutional.”
The court document claims that as a foreigner, the Respondent, in this case Korkoya, is not allowed to work in this country without proper labor work permit. Respondent as Chairman of the NEC with salaries intended for Liberian Citizens is in violation of the Labor Laws of Liberia and should therefore, face the appropriate penalty to ensure compliance with the laws of this country.”
Therefore, the lawsuit alleges that “Korkoya has unconstitutionally violated article 97, schedule 1 and 2 of the constitution aforesaid in that he is not a Liberian citizen and therefore unfit to serve as Chairman of the NEC or any other employment within this Republic without the necessary labor and immigration documentation, and grant unto petitioners such other relief as this Honorable Court may deem just and equitable.”