Liberia Human Rights Campaign
Liberia Human Rights Campaign, or LHRC, a premier Liberian human rights organization, based in the United States, is hereby demanding and insisting, that Clr. Jerome Korkoya, the chairman of the Liberia National Elections Commission, or NEC, to resign his post, follow by a complete overhaul and revamping of the commission to reflect the independent nature as it is prescribed in the Liberian constitution.
LRHC, along with its supporting partners, including many other democratic driven organizations and individuals, see the 2017 Liberia general and presidential elections like no other election in the history of the Republic of Liberia. A view that is held by many Liberians and Liberia international partners. A view that is overshadowed by the current composition of the NEC especially with Mr. Korkoya as the head. LHRC is of the belief and conviction that Clr Jerome Korkoya’s presence on the NEC at this important junction in the history of Liberia is not injecting into the commission the level of confidence necessary to assure all Liberians that a Korkoya-led elections commission has the capacity to conduct a free, fair and transparent elections due on the follow;
• Mr. Jerome Korkoya is a member of the Unity Party, and a former candidate for the Liberian Legislature on the Unity Party ticket. In other words, Clr. Korkoya as head of the NEC, a body charged by the constitution to adjudicate all issues, including electoral complaints that may rise from the elections, cannot be an honest broker to impartially decide disputes involving the Unity Party and other political parties against who he previously ran. This put the Unity Party at an unfair advantage as compare to the other parties. Mr. Korkoya, upon is appointment after 2011 general and presidential elections, said he resigned from the Unity Party during an interview on Voice of America, however, there is no evidence to that.
• Mr. Korkoya is also a former employee at the Brumskine Law Firm, a law firm owned by Clr. Charles Brumskine, a candidate for president in the Liberia 2017 general and presidential election. Mr. Korkoya’s business ties with Mr. Brumskine who is seeking to be president of Liberia against other individuals representing other political parties should not or must not be overlooked, since it creates a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict interest, in addition to partisanship with Joseph Boakai, another candidate for president in the Liberian 2017 presidential race
• While Mr. Korkoya may’ve mentioned in his profile on the NEC website that he formerly worked at the Brumskine Law Firm, however, he failed to mention his association with the ruling Unity Party. Making his profile incomplete, therefore, mis-leading to the public. Under the principles of full disclosure, it is required that an individual disclose all information regarding a position or business that may affect the public’s understanding regarding that person’s qualifications and fitness. Clr. Korkoya’s failure to include in his profile his association with the Unity Party on the NEC website left out a pertinent information that would have affected the public understanding about his qualifications and fitness to serve on the National Elections Commission in the most fair and transparent manner.
• On March 6, 2017, Clr. Korkoya, according to Frontpage Africa Newspaper regarding the March 3, 2017 Liberia Supreme Court decision on the Liberian official code of conduct said that it was up to the election commission to implement it. Korkoya was quoted as saying “What the National Elections commission will be doing is to obey the court’s opinion and comply strictly with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the code of conduct. This was a flawed assumption on the part of Mr. Korkoya regarding the role of the election commission when it comes to which institution that is clothed with the authority to implement the code of conduct. Nowhere in the Liberian constitution that expressed or implied that the code of conduct will be implemented by the election commission.
Article 90, 1.3.17 of the Liberian constitution defines the office of Ombudsman made up of a group of persons appointed or authorized by the President of the Republic of Liberia and confirmed by the Senate to enforce, oversee, monitor and evaluate adherence to the Code of Conduct. Such individuals or group of persons shall receive and investigate complaints against Public Officials, Employees of Government and national institutions. This include complaints against individuals on the National Elections Commission.
• Clr. Jerome Korkoya’s declaration linking the implementation of the code of conduct to the NEC without clarifying the role of the Office of Ombudsman suggests that he never read the entire code of conduct he is anxiously waiting to implement. Which brings up an important concern as to whether Mr. Korkoya have ever read all the Liberian electoral laws before implementing them? The role of the Office of Ombudsman is prominently featured in the code of conduct as the implementing arm. In other words, anyone, especially, a lawyer, for that matter, reading the full text of the code of conduct would have noticed the Office of Ombudsman. Interpreting the law while juxtaposing such interpretation to current events requires the exercising of due diligence which was lacking and not exercised in this case by Mr. Korkoya.
• Mr. Korkoya’s statement as head of the Liberian National Election Commission regarding the implementation of the code of conduct may’ve also inflicted upon the public, especially, the Liberian voters, a cloud of confusion and the wrong impression that the entire code of conduct is all about banning public officials or government employees from running for office, when in fact is not the case, The Liberian National Code Of Conduct affects all appointed officials and government employees, including Mr. Korkoya, along with all members of the NEC in other aspects not just for running for office.
• Mr. Korkoya, based on his public outburst that falsely described which institution is authorized to implement the code of conduct has revealed that he lacks the full understanding of the Liberian constitution, especially, the role of the institution that he is heading, the Liberian National Elections Commission. With such lack of full knowledge of the constitution opens the door for Mr. Korkoya to apply his opinions or personals beliefs, instead of the law, in deciding the fate of any candidate(s) in an electoral dispute(s).
LHRC believes based on the all the above, individually and severally, Mr. Jerome Korkoya must or should, with immediate effect, resign his post as chairman of the Liberian National Elections Commission, or NEC, follows by the complete re-organization, overhaul and revamp of the Liberian national election commission for the good, the stability and security of the Liberian nation and that of the Liberian people as to strengthen the path to genuine reconciliation and peace. All concerned parties, the president, vice president, members of the national legislature, the Good Governance Commission, political parties, civil society organizations, religious community and individual Liberians must exercise all inherent influence or powers to bring to bear the necessary pressure to arrest this situation as to avoid our country from sliding into anarchy or crisis that has the propensity of threatening the peace and stability of our beloved nation, the Republic of Liberia.
Patrick Nimely-Sie Tuon
General Coordinator/Liberia Human Rights Commission