17 April 2017

Liberia: Korkoya Bears 'U.S. Citizenship'

-Tipoteh Insists

The internationally renowned economist and politician, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, insists that Mr. Jerome Korkoya, the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia, is a citizen of the United States of America.

For more than two years now, Dr. Tipoteh continues to bring to the attention of the public the fact that NEC can not perform free, fair and democratic elections because it does not operate according to the Constitution of Liberia.

According to Dr. Tipoteh, the Constitution calls for a citizen of Liberia to be a Commissioner of NEC. As Mr. Korkoya is alleged to be a United States citizen, Dr. Tipoteh maintains that he, Korkoya, can not serve as a Commissioner of NEC, not to mention him serving as the Chairman of NEC.

Dr. Tipoteh made the allegation last Fridayin his continuing efforts at exercising patriotism by using knowledge to prevent violence, realizing that the refusal by the government to use knowledge to prevent violence led to the violence of April 14, 1979.

Dr. Tipoteh claimed to have presented evidence of Mr. Korkoya's U.S.Naturalization Number as follows: 30628201, alleging that he (Korkoya) was sworn in on December 21, 2007 in the State of New Jersey, United States of America.

Dr. Tipoteh's evidence about Cllr. Korkoya' s U.S. citizenship was presented immediately following a press statement in which the NEC boss claimed that he is a Liberian citizen and that the numerous indications about his U.S. citizenship are all "distractions."

He affirmed that he is a Liberian citizen and denied bearing two passports.

The local dailies published stories alleging that Korkoya holds both Liberian and American passports which, if true, would be in violation of the Constitution of Liberia.

Last week, a NEC release quoted Korkoya as saying that the smear campaign against him is false, misleading and an attempt to distract the commission from carrying out its constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair and transparent elections.

Cllr. Korkoya assured the public that the NEC is committed to ensuring that electoral democracy under his watch is protected.

The Commission assured 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, and called on the public to support NEC achieve its mandate of conducting credible elections in 2017.

However, in a press release issued over the weekend, Dr. Tipoteh said the evidence presented about Mr. Korkoya's U.S. citizenshipis "truth-telling" and not "distractions" as Korkoya claimed.

The prominent Liberian politician said with this evidence, on the U.S. citizenship of Cllr. Korkoya, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should now call upon Mr. Korkoya to resign from NEC and stand trial for the criminal offence of having dual citizenship, U.S. and Liberia, which is a crime under the Constitution of Liberia.

Dr. Tipoteh believes that the President should terminate Korkoya's service at NEC immediately were he to refuse to resign.

He concluded that the best way to honor the victims of the violence of April 14, 1979 is to do something better for the living and this can be done by using knowledge to prevent violence.

Recently, a former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),John Stewart, accused Cllr. Korkoya of being a U.S. citizen. He said laws of Liberia do not support dual citizenship or make no provision whatsoever for dual citizenship, neither does the law recognize dual citizenship.

Mr. Stewart posted his statement and the U.S. passport supposedly bearing the name of Chairman Korkoya on his facebook page.

In his statement, Stewart explained that Korkoya's U.S. passport bears the name Jerome George Korkoya, born in Liberia on December 24, 1961. According to him, the passport number is 40707800 and it was issued on 16 March 2010 and its expiration date is 17 March 2020.

The former TRC commissioner said he's using the medium to call on Mr. Korkoya to step down forthwith,because according to him, Chairman Korkoya is a U.S. national, a foreigner who is legally incompetent to superintend the 2017 elections.

Moreover, Stewart claimed that Chairman Korkoya lied under oath during confirmation hearings before the Liberian Senate about his citizenship status; thereby committing Perjury, a criminal offence under Liberian law.

Mr. Stewart, a professional writer and journalist, urged members of the public not to misconstrue his argument, adding he supports dual citizenship and feels that eventually the National Legislature will pass laws to address the issue.

However, for now, Stewart argues that there is no such provision for dual citizenship and therefore, Liberians have the obligation to respect the laws as it stands.

He urged the election commission chair to resign or be compelled to do so through court action.

Mr. Stewart also claimed that by virtue of his foreign nationality, Mr. Korkoya has no interest nor stake in the pending elections and that his action so far demonstrates that his intention might create confusion and then flee to the safety and protection of the United States as a citizen of that country.

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