Monrovia — The Chairman of Liberia's National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, now faces the challenge of exonerating himself from claims that he holds U.S. citizenship which automatically disqualifies him for the position which he serves.
In his attempts to debunk earlier media reports and publications of what is believed to be his American passport, the NEC in a press release issued on April 12 termed the series of publications as a smear campaign, false and misleading.
The release added that the publications were "an attempt to distract the Commission from carrying out its constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair, and transparent elections".
However, one of Korkoya's accusers, Dr. Togba-naTipoteh, insists that the NEC Chairman holds dual citizenship, claiming that there are several proofs to that effect.
There have been several online publications in recent time attempting to prove that Korkoya registered to vote in the 2008 U.S. elections.
The publication further alleged that Korkoya was naturalized at a ceremony on December 21, 2007 in the city of Willingboro, New Jersey.
FrontPageAfrica has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of this report.
"Dr. Tipoteh presents the evidence about Mr. Korkoya's U.S. citizenship immediately following NEC's Press Statement to the effect that Mr. Korkoya is a Liberian citizen and that the numerous indications about Mr. Korkoya's U.S. citizenship are all "distractions".
"With the evidence presented about Mr. Korkoya's U.S. citizenship, Dr. Tipoteh calls it "truthtelling" and not "distractions," Tipoteh's press statement averred.
According to Tipoteh who also wants to contest the presidency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should call on the NEC Chairman to resign so that he can be prosecuted "for the criminal offence of having dual citizenship, U.S. and Liberia, which is a crime under the Constitution of Liberia".
"The President should terminate Mr. Korkoya's service at NEC immediately were he to refuse to resign. With the backing of Mr. Korkoya by NEC, the President of Liberia should call upon the other NEC Commissioners to resign immediately or the President should terminate their services at NEC immediately were they to refuse to resign.
If no such resignations or terminations were to occur at NEC immediately, Dr. Tipoteh declares that the people of Liberia, through patriotic Liberians, will take Mr. Korkoya and the other Commissioners to Court to have justice done to pave the way for the holding of free, fair and democratic elections in Liberia, thereby preventing violence in the process of transitioning from one governance arrangement to another," the press statement averred.
Renowned human rights lawyer who is also acclaimed for speaking against ills in society, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, told a local daily last week that Korkoya may have committed perjury if indeed he bears an American passport.
According to the Daily Observer newspaper, Cllr. Gongloe said in a telephone interview that Section 2.3 of the Elections Laws of Liberia speaks of the qualifications of appointees to the NEC and they clearly state that "Every Commissioner shall be a Liberian citizen, be of age not less than 35, and shall be of good moral character.
"Our Constitution forbids foreigners from serving as commissioners of the NEC, simply because it has to do with trust and credibility," he noted.
"If it is true that he is an American citizen, then it means that Cllr. Korkoya cannot preside over our elections if his loyalty is to another country."
Cllr. Gongloealso recommended that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf needs to ascertain the facts surrounding the Cllr. Korkoya's citizenship and remove him from office it the facts proves that he has violated the laws of Liberia.
But the NEC Chairman who denies owning an American passport assured the public the NEC is committed to ensuring that the electoral democracy under his watch is protected at the same time calling on the public to support the NEC achieve its mandate of delivering credible elections in 2017.
"The Commission assures the people of Liberia and all stakeholders and partners of its commitment to scrupulously uphold the Constitution, Elections and other statutory laws including the Code of Conduct," he stated in a press release.