15 June 2017

Liberia: Korkoya Nears Dual Citizenship Prosecution

Embattled National Elections Commission (NEC) chairman Jerome Korkoya is on the verge of going to trial for allegedly using dubious means to secure his appointment and subsequent confirmation by the Senate while reportedly holding American citizenship.

The outcome of yesterday's hearing of legal arguments on Korkoya's request for the Civil Law Court to drop the allegation against him now rests on the ruling reserved by Judge Boimah Kontoe.

Kontoe did not say when he will deliver his judgment. But, if he refuses Korkoya's plea, the NEC chairman could leave his job to concentrate on his trial.

The case against Korkoya was filed by the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) and the Concerned Citizens to Protect the Constitution, represented by its executive director Miatta Fahnbulleh.

It was filed on behalf of the group by both counselors Tiawan Gongloe and Laveli Supuwood.

At yesterday's argument, lawyers representing the two groups said before Korkoya's confirmation, he voluntarily and without duress on December 27, 2007, renounced his duty of allegiance to the Republic of Liberia and allegedly assumed citizenship of the United States of America.

Supuwood argued that Korkoya also obtained a US passport with number 467078002, dated March 16, 2010, thereby renouncing his Liberian citizenship in keeping with section 22.1 of the Alien and Nationality Law.

He also alleged that "Korkoya's naturalization certificate number is 30528201 and his voter identification number is 150326754."

Gongloe, meanwhile, argued that as an American citizen, the NEC chairman voted in a number of elections held in that country as a member of the Democratic Party, "having first registered to vote on July 1, 2008."

In a counterargument, Korkoya's lead lawyer Cooper Kruah did not deny the allegation, but claimed that the allegation was criminal in nature and that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear it.

"If Korkoya violated the Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of government, the laws provide for the office of Ombudsman to have jurisdiction to hear all complaints considering a violation of the National Code of Conduct," Kruah argued.

"(That) Korkoya violated the Alien and Nationality Law is an allegation of criminal activities... which the Ministry of Justice has legal standing over," the defense lawyer challenged, adding, "It is the MOJ that is empowered to institute all legal proceedings necessary for law enforcement."


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