What appears to be a clampdown on suspected aliens carrying Liberian national voters’ identification cards has been reported at the Vital Health Statistics Division of the Ministry of Health. An anonymous source, who says he is part of the exercise, explains to this paper that as a result of the operation, over 300 voters’ cards issued by the National Elections Commission for the 2017 elections have been confiscated from suspected aliens going to obtain birth certificates at the ministry.
The source continues that those affected are individuals seeking Liberian Birth Certificates in a bid to obtain Liberian Passports. According to the source, voters’ cards were seized from people bearing names such as Mariaman Jollo, Mohammed Bah, Fanta Barry and Diallo, among others after they failed to prove their Liberian citizenship.
Liberia has Aliens and Naturalization law, which enables aliens desirous of becoming naturalized citizens to do so thru the court system.
However, the source also disclosed that the wife of a senior government official whose name was not disclosed, and is allegedly an alien, had gone to the division to obtain Liberian birth certificate, but was rejected and her voter card confiscated.
The woman, who was aggrieved over the action, proceeded to the Temple of Justice where she filed an official complaint against the Vital Health Statistics Division of the Ministry of Health for wrongful seizer. The source narrates that during legal battle between the woman and the Ministry, MOH lawyers quoted the Act establishing the Vital Health Statistics Division, which says that only Liberian citizens are entitled to birth certificates, not aliens.
According to the source, the court later requested the complainant through her legal representatives to present any other document to substantiate her Liberian Citizenship but since she and her lawyers left the court, they are yet to return for continuance of the case. When asked what the Ministry will do with the seized voters’ cards, the source says the decision is left with the Minister of Health, who has authority on the next course of action.
But critics of the alleged process say it is illegal, noting that the only authorized authority that can question people’s nationalities is the Liberia Immigration Services (LIS), formerly Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), not the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, the Director of Communications at the Ministry, Sorbor George, who was contacted via mobile phone on Tuesday, says he does not believe voters’ cards are being confiscated by the Vital Health Statistics Division, saying, “It does not make any sense for the Ministry of Health to seize people’s voter identification cards.”