Our Gbarpolu Correspondent, S. Micah Yeahwon, reported yesterday the arrest by security officers of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) in that county of three foreign nationals with Liberian Voter Registration Cards in their possession. The three are two Sierra Leoneans, Shirlef Ansu and Passaway Nancy and a Guinean national, Kanneh Mohamed.
The two Sierra Leoneans’ names already sound somewhat fictitious because we know, for example, of no Liberian surnamed Nancy, a female first or second name. And in Liberia we know of Sirleaf or Sheriff, not Shirlef.
Another disturbing aspect of Correspondent Yeahwon’s story is what the LIS security officer told him, namely, that “if the suspects are investigated and found to be legally residing in the country, they will be free to go about their normal business; but if on the contrary, we will prosecute and deport them to their respective countries of origin.”
That statement is very disturbing because it suggests that once a foreign resident, otherwise known as an alien, is in this country with a valid visa an or Residence Permit, that person is free to obtain Liberian Voter Registration Card. For true?
That is contrary to what National Elections Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoya told the Daily Observer when contacted yesterday on Correspondent Yeahwon’s report.
Chairman Korkoya said he was not surprised by the swift action by LIS security officers, “because LIS Commissioner Lemuel Reeves is a good man who has always been fully cooperating with us and bringing to book those foreigners who attempt to violate our election laws.”
Chairman Korkoya said he had not yet seen yesterday’s Observer story but would get to it as soon as he was through with several meetings.
The Daily Observer also contacted LIS Commissioner Reeves to find out whether he had seen our story yesterday.
We further inquired as to whether or not the LIS security officer was accurate in stating that the three foreigners caught with Liberian VRCs “would be free to go if they were legal residents in Liberia.”
Commissioner Reeves immediately cried “No, the security officer made a mistake. A foreign resident in possession of a Liberian Voter Registration Card is in violation of Liberia’s Alien and Naturalization Law and is, if found guilty, subject to three years imprisonment and a US$5000 fine. The offense is that he or she is impersonating as a Liberian citizen. No foreign resident has any business carrying a Liberian Voter Registration Card.”
Commissioner Reeves further told this newspaper, “It is no longer business as usual at LIS. We are on top of our game. In fact, we have sent some 200 such cases to NEC and are prepared to do more if we are given the encouragement.”
We call on Law Enforcement Agencies, particularly the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), National Security Advisor H. Boima Fahnbulleh and the entire Joint Security Commission to become even more vigilant and encourage each of our security agencies to work closely with LIS to ensure that no foreigner will be able to infiltrate successfully our voting procedures in this election season or at any other time.
But more immediately, the LNP, backed by the Justice Ministry and the Judiciary, are called to act swiftly to bring to justice the three foreigners caught in Gbarpolu and all such others that have already been forwarded to NEC. They must all be immediately prosecuted.
Liberia must stop being a country where anyone can enter and violate our laws with impunity.
Most particularly, we run the risk of encouraging electoral anarchy and confusion and even instability should we allow foreigners to interfere in our voting process.
This should NEVER be allowed to happen.