Dual Citizenship: Not A Constitutional Issue

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule & George H. Nubo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 7, 2016



Since the publication of our article on the issue of dual citizenship as part of the proposed amendments to the Constitution in the referendum that will be held sometime this year, we have received many reactions. Among the submissions, one stood out, because it brought forth a much simpler solution to the issue: laws governing the loss of Liberian citizenship is not in the Constitution, therefore should not be among the proposed amendments. It was an act passed into law by the William Tolbert administration in 1973. The reader who sent us the information begged to remain anonymous. The act was part of the new citizenship and naturalization law passed in 1973.

Here is what it says:

Approved: May 15, 1973
Amendments Approved: May 9, 1974
§ 22.1. Acts causing loss of citizenship.
§ 22.2. Citizenship lost solely from performance of act.
§ 22.3. Liberian woman marrying <<alien>>
§ 22.4. Certificate as to loss of Liberian citizenship.
§ 22.1. Acts causing loss of citizenship.
From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by --
(a) Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person; provided that citizenship shall not be lost by any person under this section as the result of the naturalization of a parent or parents while such person under the age of 21 years, unless such person shall fail to enter Liberia to establish a permanent residence prior to his twenty-third birthday; or
(b) Taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof; or
(c) Exercising a free choice to enter or serve in the armed forces of a foreign state, unless, prior to such entry or service, such entry or service is specifically authorized by the President;
(d) Voting in a political election in a foreign state or voting in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty of a foreign state over foreign territory; or
(e) Making a formal renunciation of Liberian nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of Liberia in a foreign state in such form may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.[70]

§ 22.2. Citizenship lost solely from performance of act.
The loss of citizenship under section 22.1 of this title shall result solely from the performance by a citizen of the acts or fulfillment of the conditions specified in such section, and without the institution by the Government of any proceedings to nullify or cancel such citizenship.
§ 22.3. Liberian woman marrying <<alien>>.
A Liberian woman who marries an <<alien>> retains her Liberian citizenship unless she renounces it by an affirmative act. [71]
§ 22.4. Certificate as to loss of Liberian citizenship.
Whenever a diplomatic or consular officer of Liberia has reason to believe that a person while in a foreign state to which such officer is assigned has lost his Liberian nationality under any provision of Section 22.1 of this title, he shall certify the facts upon which such belief is based to the Secretary of State in writing. If the report of such officer is approved by the Secretary of State, a copy of the certificate shall be forwarded to the Attorney General, for his information, and the diplomatic or consular office in which the report was made shall be directed to forward a copy of the certificate to the person to whom it relates.
§ 3. This Act shall take effect immediately upon publication in handbills.

Therefore, the issue of citizenship should not be among the constitutional amendments to be approved by the electorate. It will simply take the same procedure that brought it into being: an act of the legislature signed by the President or vice-versa.

We hope that this will take the debate to another level and that stakeholders will put their energies into a campaign to reverse a law that keeps many capable Liberian hands away from participating in nation building.

Of all the countries in Africa, Liberia needs capacity the most.  As we know, there is no paucity of Liberian experts in the Diaspora.  But the draconian law of 1974 and the “job security” maneuvering on the ground have effectively prevented Liberian experts from returning home to help.  Just recently, the Liberia’s Minister of Finance hired a Ugandan to serve as an Economic Advisor to the Liberian Government, as if to say there were shortage of Liberian born economists.  We have Liberian economists like Dr. Geepu Nah Tiepoh of Canada who was contacted through The Perspective few years ago by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), , one of the best in the world, to write on West African economy.  What about former Auditor General John Morlu, Dr. Gunpu, just to name a few.  Does the Liberian Government feel that the Ugandan Advisor can do a better job than any of these Liberian economists?  We disagree. One would think that Liberians on the ground and elsewhere, who have effectively opposed dual citizenship, were equipped with the knowhow to serve as economists for the Finance Minister.  But this is not the case.  We have thousands of Liberian engineers and medical doctors in the Diaspora, but these experts are prevented by the anti-dual citizenship stance in the country. Instead, we are importing experts, even science teachers, from other countries. So, it is the Liberian Government that feels that Liberia does not have the capacity. 

The waves of migration that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s put on the road of the exile the nascent educated middle-class. Few years back, Counselor Jerome Kokoya, before he became Chairman of the National Elections Commission, sued the Government of Liberia on behalf of some “former Liberians” who thought they were illegally depraved of their citizenship. The case is somewhere at the Supreme Court.

Who will take the lead? The President or the Legislature?  Or should the Supreme Court simply act on the act. The positive resolution of this issue would allow tens of thousands of Liberians to exercise their franchise and take part in the next elections. Their status in a foreign countries must not deprive them of their native rights. Therefore, we still call on the Prisident to take the first step by instituting the "bully pulpit"

Garsuah Gborvlehn
Of Course, STATUTORY LAWS governing whatsoever matter or issue may not be detailed or enumerated in the Constitution, BUT ONCE THEY HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL XYLEM IN OTHER WORDS CONSISTENT WITH AND GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION, THEY ARE EMBEDDED IN THE CONSTITUTION. And this is the Case with the loss of citizenship law of 1973! Such laws are constitutional until struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court! So,one must have to make a RETHINK arter saying "dual citizenship is not a constitutional issue" or " laws governing loss of citizenship is not in the constitution". For "THE NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE" OF THE CONSTITUTION INTER ALIA AND IN PARTICULAR EMPOWERS THE LRGISLATURE TO MAKE SUCH LAWS INCLUDING THEIR SANCTIONING BY THAT AUGUST BODY TRSPONSIBLE FOR MAKING LAWS!
Garsuah Gborvlehn at 04:11PM, 2016/01/07.
Dortu-Siboe Doe
Probably they want to amend Article 34 (in part) infra:

Article 34

The Legislature shall have the power:

to establish laws for citizenship, naturalization and residence;


to make other laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the Republic, or in any department or officer thereof.


If Konneh wanted a Liberian expert in that area he would have gotten many Liberians who have not relinquished their Liberina citizenship.

Even modern day Rome - the USA import certain experts.

By the way, why not leave the matter with the Supreme Court since the "bully puppit" theory is a dead one!?

Thank you Mr. Goborvlehn for reminding them!

Dortu-Siboe Doe at 03:05AM, 2016/01/08.
Mae Moore
Mr. Doe, thanks for your insights. But Mr.Dukule and Mr. Nubo, are suggesting " A campaign to reverse a law" which is consistent with the constitution and international law. How aliens or foreigners or lawbreakers owing allegiance to another country may be successful with such campaign beats the imagination!
Mae Moore at 04:11AM, 2016/01/08.
Theodore Hodge

This article lacks clarity. First, it presents a verbatim record of government proclamations passed by the Tolbert administration, then it hastily jumps to the conclusion: “Therefore, the issue of citizenship should not be among the constitutional amendments to be approved by the electorate. It will simply take the same procedure that brought it into being: an act of the legislature signed by the President or vice-versa.”

How did the authors derive this profound conclusion? The reader is not given a legal or rational basis for understanding the authors’ thought processes. Did they examine some legal precedents? Did they do any comparative analyses of similar issues elsewhere to bolster their argument, or was the conclusion derived simply by conjecture? This kind of writing, in my opinion, amounts to mumbo jumbo; perhaps gibberish is a better word, at the risk of being impolite.

The second part is quite misleading and outright incoherent. For example, what do the authors mean: “Of all the countries in Africa, Liberia needs capacity most”? I ask, what does that statement mean and what does it have to do with the topic under discussion? Again, how was such a conclusion derived? How does one prove that, ‘of all in Africa, Liberia needs capacity most’?

The authors, on a roll, take the liberty to make a very broad statement perhaps without checking its validity: “We have thousands of Liberian engineers and medical doctors in the Diaspora, but these experts are prevented by the anti-dual citizenship stance in the country…” How are these Liberian professionals abroad prevented by the anti-dual citizenship stance in the country? Some examples would have sufficed to demonstrate that the authors did indeed thoroughly investigate the issue being presented, with the aim to give the reading public clarity and understanding. Have any such experts been refused employment in the country of their birth? Examples?

On the issue of the government hiring of a foreign economist as an advisor, three individuals are suggested that would have sufficed in lieu of the Ugandan: Dr. Geepu Nah Tiepoh, former Auditor General John Morlu and Dr. George Gonpu. First of all, it is not clear that Mr. Morlu is indeed an economist; but did he not serve as Auditor General for years? Didn’t Dr. George Gonpu also have a stint as Deputy Minister of Finance under this very same administration? Is it not, therefore, contradictory to claim that ‘anti-dual citizenship stance’ is preventing experts from returning to the country when the only examples include people who were once high officials of the government? Did they leave their posts because of the issue under discussion?

Here is my advice: This is a very serious matter before the nation. It deserves serious dialogue and analyses. Please do your readers a favor: Do as much diligence, scholarship, and the necessary research required to present this topic coherently and informatively. Your readers deserve the best as our country approaches a critical crossroads. Sorry for my bluntness, but it is the only way I know.

Theodore Hodge at 07:48AM, 2016/01/08.
Jeremiah Smith
Mr. Hodge, what are you always writing trash. You have no work experience but you sit in America attacking everything someone writes. You attached Dr. Dukule, now you are attacking Mr. Morlu and Dr. Gonpu, all because your name is not mentioned. For example, Mr. Morlu holds a degree in Economics from the University of Virginia and has practical experience. Is that not a public record? The mentioned of these well regarded Liberians was to show that Liberia has a lot of expertise and so the government should capitalize on it.

By the way, what is Mr. Hodge's experience, credential and capability since he seems to know so much about EVERYTHING.
Jeremiah Smith at 08:34AM, 2016/01/08.
Theodore a Hodge
Jeremiah Smith, or whatever your name is, please learn to read with comprehension before you start spewing rubbish. I did not attack Mr. Morlu who, by the way, happens to be a personal friend whom I respect deeply. If you don't understand what I wrote, please ask someone else to read and explain it to you. Slowly.
Theodore a Hodge at 03:35PM, 2016/01/08.
Sylvester Moses
Rush Limbaugh's sarcasm oozes nonstop like a broken faucet, but he's getting paid - go figure.
Sylvester Moses at 10:27PM, 2016/01/08.
sylvester moses
Getting paid to spew sarcasm at those who don’t enthusiastically conform to the every dictate of the chief, or singing praises to the holder of that stool was historically a socio - politically important role in pre – European Africa, and it is still practiced by some of the best educated on the continent. For instance, our president’s children, grandchildren, grandnieces, grandnephews, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends probably have dual citizenships. The question is, must those in the diaspora be continuously cajoled to carry her on a hammock to use the “bully pulpit” for them? We don’t think so. It’s in EJS’s interest, and every Liberian now knows that her prolonged deadly diabolical exertions were all about what mattered to "She Who Must Be Obeyed".
sylvester moses at 05:49AM, 2016/01/09.
If John Morlu and Dr.Gunpu ably served the government and people of Liberia, what is wrong calling them back Mr.Hodge to serve when the need be.

By the way, I am shock; I thought Mr. Hodge is on the Editorial Board of The Perspective. What is happening on the Editorial Board that is driving Mr. Hodge nut? I am getting confuse. Even what I read the last time on the Perspective Dr.Dukuly is no longer on the Editorial Board as was announced by The Perspective long ago, except the Managing Editor Mr.Nubo and senior managing staff Mr. Hodge....what going on with Mr. Hodge. Is he losing it or he personally has a beef with Mr.Morlu, Dr.Dukuly and Dr.Gonpu .If he has a personal beef with them, please let him not use this respected online news outlet .Take on them directly.

Is Mr. Hodge losing it really…he wrote a rebuttal “The Liberian Dual Citizenship Debate: Another Viewpoint (The Perspective, July 14, 2014), against Bai Gbala article supporting Dual citizenship. Bai Gbala wrote against Dual citizenship and Hodge went against him for that. Now Hodge is switching side attacking himself (The Perspective) and Dr.Dukuly for supporting dual citizenship. This is not connecting to my sense of judgment.

I do not know Mr.Nubo, but I have been following his writings and know his stance on Liberian issues dating back the late 90s’. By adding his name and voice on the joint article with Dr.Dukuly shows his conviction and the Perspective stance on dual citizenship.
Garblejay at 12:03PM, 2016/01/09.
The very fact Mr. Hodge submitted a rebuttal against an article opposed to dual citizenship and later criticized and debunked the bad faith and lopsidedness of articles for dual citizenship indicates he is a seasoned journalist, educator, and writer! It is extremely wrong for anyone to conclude that because one disagrees with the logic or reasoning of a perspective or view using ad examples of certain individual characters, he or she has something personal against such individual characters. The examples of individual character could be any other infividuals who may have had such stints in govenment. And of Course, the logic or reasoning or choice of examples would or may be inappropriate as is evidently the Case with the choice of examples of individual characters mentioned. The culprits herr are Abdoulaye Dukule and George Nubo who want us to believe that their "bully pulppit" idea is a good idea, and that dual citizenship is not prohibitted by the constitution despite THE INTENT, PURPOSE, OBJECTIVE, AND THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF ARTICLE 28 OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION WHICH INTER ALIA DEALS WITH THE ISSUE OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP! Again, Mr. Hodge is simply been objective, scientific, progressive and not taking things for granted! If Liberia, Africa, or the World, had many Theodore Hodge we would be living in a just World!
Theodore Hodge

Mr. Garblejay, I do not know where the error is coming from, but I'm quite sure it is not from my writing. I make it my business to write as clearly and lucidly as possible whenever I undertake the task. You are drawing the wrong conclusion from what I wrote. In my first article I took Mr. Dukule to task and I fully gave the reasons why. You might have read his response to me. Remember, Dukule purportedly holds a PhD and should know how to defend himself. He does not need you to defend him. He understood my gist and responded the best way he could and I was finished with the matter.

In the second response, I specifically took issue with the style and substance of the article presented. It was my view that they used conjecture,instead of rational reasoning to draw major conclusions. I questioned their style and method; I made that clear in my response. I felt they cheated their readers by presenting such a sloppy piece of work and attaching their names to it. They have a right to challenge the viewpoint I presented. This is clearly an academic argument.

As for your perception that I am against the individuals mentioned, nothing could be further from the truth. You drew that conclusion from a mis-reading. I call that a comprehension problem.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Mr. Morlu is a good friend of my mine, and we share mutual respect. If you know him, you might want to ask him personally. I have no beef with him at all. I also know Dr. George Gonpu and Mr. George Nubo. I have known them personally for years and we have enjoyed personal comradeship with them. Again, just ask them and they'll tell you. I also know Mr. Dukule and have interacted with him personally on many occasions as well.

To summarize, this is not a personal war against them. It is only my opinion that the article was sub-par. They did not do the topic justice by trivializing it. I simply want to challenge them to do more research before attempting to tackle such an important topic. By the way, for your information, I hold a green card, and not American citizenship. I am a legitimate Liberian citizen (natural born) and am willing to prove it any day. I also do support dual citizenship for Liberians. Yes, I do support dual citizenship whole-heartedly, but I resent the hasty and flimsy way the topic is being handled by some. I hope I have finally made myself clear. Thank you.
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