The challenge from the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome Korkoya and the Executive Mansion to anyone claiming that he holds a U.S. passport and is an American citizen should take the NEC boss to court is at the verge of being granted. Two prominent lawyers and other citizens have galvanized to do just that.
According to renowned Liberian musician and women’s rights advocate, Miatta Fahnbulleh, she and other prominent Liberians are leading a well organized campaign to ensure that the Liberian constitution is respected in this case.
She disclosed after a peaceful protest at the headquarters of the NEC in Monrovia that Cllr. Laveli Supuwood and Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe are preparing a lawsuit to take the NEC boss to task, and prove in court that he is indeed a US citizen.
Ms. Fahnbulleh, who is popularly known as Aunty Miatta, is leading the advocacy aspect of the campaign to remove Cllr. Korkoya. She and several others gathered at the NEC yesterday demanding that the NEC boss should do the honorable thing by resigning.
The campaign is under the auspices of the Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution (CCPC), on which Aunty Miatta serves as Interim Coordinator.
She said, unlike other parts of the world, public officials in Liberia lack integrity and that is why they are not deterred by scandals. “But the power of national governance is inherent in us so we must use that power to bring them to book and this is what we have resolved to do in this case,” she said.
She indicated that the facts about Cllr. Korkoya’s US citizenship are clear, tangible and realistic, “but since he wants people to take him to court, we will do that and thank God my brothers, Gongloe and Supuwood are working on the legal aspect of this campaign.”
Making reference to the provision of the Constitution that says only Liberian citizens with impeccable character are eligible to serve as commissioners of the NEC, she said Cllr. Korkoya is legally unfit, legally improper and legally incompetent to superintend the October 10 elections.
“His successful confirmation by the Liberian Senate in 2012 as chairman of the National Elections Commission strongly and clearly suggests to us that Chairman Korkoya must have perjured himself by lying under oath about his citizenship status,” Fahnbulleh said.
She said “In our opinion Chairman Korkoya cannot and should no longer continue to serve in this stead and he should do the most honorable thing to step aside and give room to a legally competent individual with proven integrity to serve as chairman of the NEC.”
She indicated that the group is doing everything legally required to ensure the removal of the NEC Chairman. “We started with today’s (yesterday’s) peaceful protest which we had earlier written the Justice Ministry about,” she said.
The group, in the letter to the MOJ, denounced the ineligibility of the NEC boss, warning that something must be done to avert the level of embarrassment the country is at the verge of facing.
“Our constitution forbids foreigners from serving as commissioners of the NEC simply because it has to do with trust and credibility and Cllr. Korkoya’s presence at the NEC as chairman is a complete violation of the nation’s law on elections,” the letter, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, said.
The letter, dated May 1, 2017, informed the Ministry of her organization’s plan to peacefully assemble yesterday at the headquarters of the NEC in Sinkor, Monrovia to protest against Korkoya’s continuance in office as the NEC boss.
She received a response from the Ministry asking the group to postpone the protest until consultations into the matter were completed.
“In recognition of your constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and protest vis-à-vis the need to ensure the safety and security of the nation and people, and considering the current security environment, we respectfully urge that the planned peaceful protest be postponed until further consultations are held with the security agencies,” the MOJ replied.
Meanwhile, under relentless pressure from the public and the media, Cllr. Korkoya, while not denying his United States citizenship, has instead repeatedly maintained that he is a Liberian and anyone challenging his citizenship should seek redress through the court.
Fahnbulleh added that the Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution will not fall to such a ploy when the facts are clear to all and sundry that he, Korkoya, is a citizen of the United States.
She said while taking the matter to the court is vital, her organization is also calling on ECOWAS, EU, the U. S. Government and all other friends of Liberia to prevail on the Liberian Government to consider with exigency the immediate resolution of this matter which has the potential to adversely affect the ongoing electoral process and undermine national peace and stability.
“We also call on the U.S. Government to reign in its rogue citizens who are deliberately impersonating as Liberians, wantonly violating the Constitution of our country and provoking a crisis with unforeseen consequences to take back home their citizen, Korkoya,” she said.
It may be recalled that the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) told a news conference on April 21 in Monrovia that it had ‘prima facie’ evidence that the NEC Chairman is a naturalized citizen of the United States of America, and threatened legal action to remove him from the position.
The NDC’s political leader Nyanquoi K. Kargbo accused Cllr. Korkoya for lying under oath and said the Party had written President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, urging her to remove Cllr. Korkoya from office; else its lawyers both in Liberia and in the United States would pursue legal action to remove him as chairman of the NEC.