The National Democratic Coalition (NDC) has threatened to take Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, National Elections Commission (NEC) Chair, to court for lying under oath.
NDC told a news conference over the weekend that it has ‘prima facie’ evidence that the NEC Chairman is a naturalized citizen of the United States of America, which if proven, would show that the NEC Chairman violated the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
Prima facie evidence is a fact presumed to be true unless it is disproved.
At a press conference in Monrovia last Saturday, the political leader of the NDC, Nyanquoi K. Kargbo, said the party has written a letter to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf asking her to dismiss Cllr. Korkoya as chairman of the NEC.
“Our letter further emphasized to Madam President that to have a foreign citizen knowingly and openly preside over our national elections without the political will to take the appropriate action required under our law is an insult to our statehood and hard-earned democracy as a people.
“It also shows gross disregard for the laws of the land which all public officials (elected and appointed) took oath to uphold, defend and protect, including President Sirleaf, as head of state and government,” Kargbo said.
The NDC claims it has “empirically established” that Jerome George Korkoya is an American citizen, and holds an American passport issued by the Department of State on March 18, 2010, with the expiration date of March 17, 2020.
NDC alleges that “his passport bears the number 4670780024 and his date of birth: December 24, 1961. While holding an American passport as an American citizen, Cllr. Korkoya simultaneously criminally acquired an ECOWAS Liberian Diplomatic Passport bearing the number D 001573 issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 27, 2013, which expired May 26, 2015, NDC further alleges. His date of birth (is) December 24, 1961 (as) in the US Passport; and his height, 5.7 inches.”
Kargbo alleges that Cllr. Korkoya fraudulently used his diplomatic passport in transit countries between the United States and Liberia. Additionally, as an American citizen, records show that Korkoya voted in the 2008 US elections as a registered Democrat with a residential address at 195 Stueben St. 60, Staten Island, 10304, quoting a report published last week by the Daily Observer newspaper.
The NDC claims Cllr. Korkoya acquired American citizenship by naturalization through the pledge of an ‘oath of allegiance’ to a foreign state; and in so doing, “he correspondingly renounced his original citizenship by birth as a Liberian.”
“Accordingly, a foreign citizen masquerading as a Liberian, who took an oath to become NEC’s National Chairman, Cllr. Korkoya falsified Liberian citizenship, lied under oath and violated other laws of the land,” NDC alleges.
The NDC leader said dual citizenship is not only illegal, but legally impermissible within the Republic of Liberia, and quoted Section 22.1 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, Title 4, Liberian Code of Laws Revised (Approved May 15, 1974), to prove his point.
Mr. Kargbo said as long as Cllr. Korkoya serves as chairman of NEC in the face of the scandal, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be obliged to account for “every mess created in the Commission by the man with dubious standing whom she appointed as Chair of NEC to serve in her administration.”
The NDC quoted Chapter 11, Section 2.3 of the New Elections Law of Liberia amended by the National Legislature in 2003 and 2004 respectively and incorporated and published in 2011 by the National Elections Commission that forbids the appointment of non-Liberian citizens to serve on the Commission.
Moreover, the NDC claims Chairman Korkoya has violated 1.3.6 of the National Code of Conduct, bordering on “Conflict of Interest.”
“Conflict of interest is established against a public official when dubiousness is linked to his/her deeds; in this case, citizenship. Other laws violated include, sections 12.30 and 12.31 of the Penal Code of Liberia, representing acts of perjury (lying under oath) and misinformation, respectively.
“He has also violated other provisions of the Alien and National Law and the Penal Code of Liberia, including citizenship falsification and criminal impersonation. Above all, Cllr. Korkoya has also violated the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. By these violations, Cllr. Korkoya as Chairman of NEC, has illegally managed strategic state resources and information, and has generally duped the Government and State of Liberia,” the NDC contends.
The NDC said it will pursue its actions “in a set of two-prong political and legal initiatives” in Liberia and in the United States to ensure that Cllr. Korkoya is dismissed as chairman of the NEC.
“We also brought to the attention of President Sirleaf that the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections are very crucial to a peaceful and orderly transfer of power from one constitutional administration to the other; that the processes and outcomes of the impending elections, as a matter of urgency, as stated supra, must therefore be politically, morally and legally credible and legitimate. This certainly cannot be achieved by a man who lied under oath and lacks integrity,” the NDC said.
The NDC said copies of its letter to the President were, in accordance with good practice, sent to Cllr. Korkoya and other Commissioners of the NEC, but that the letters were not signed for.
Cllr. Korkoya, since information about his alleged dual citizenship was published, has insisted that he is a Liberian citizen, and has described reports of his holding dual passports as a smear campaign by his detractors. He consistently challenged anyone with such claims to take him to court to allow him prove his innocence.
He has, meanwhile, remained mum on whether he has ever owned a US passport, making him a U.S. Citizen.