By Yankuba Jallow
Lawyers for President Adama Barrow on Tuesday, 21st December 2021 withdrew their first motion seeking dismissal of the United Democratic Party (UDP) election petition case in which the head of state was made a party.
Contrary to the reports circulating on social media, the cost awarded in favour of UDP was as a result of the delay. However, President Barrow’s team of lawyers will on Friday proceed to move their second motion seeking dismissal of the case based on constitutional ground; that a sitting President has constitutional immunity from civil and criminal proceedings.
WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT?
The case began at around 10:47 am on Tuesday before a panel of judges of the Supreme Court in the persons of Justices Hassan B. Jallow, Cherno Sulayman Jallow, Mam Yasin Sey, Awa Bah and Edrissa Fafa M’bai.
Lawyers Bory S. Touray, Lamin S. Camara, Lamin L. Darboe, Abdul Aziz Bensouda and Fatou Darboe represented UDP. Lawyers Sheriff Marie Tambadou, Christopher E. Mene and Pauline Bakurim represented President-elect, Adama Barrow. Lawyers Kebba Sanyang, Malick H.B. Jallow and Fatou M. Jawo represented the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Lawyers Hussein Thomasi (the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary), Binga D. (the Director of Civil Litigation) and Kimbeng T. Tah (Senior State Counsel) represented the Attorney General.
In an overcrowded courtroom, the case was called for the lawyers for President-elect, Adama Barrow to move their motion, but Lawyer Sheriff Marie Tambadou informed the court that he wants to consolidate his two motions – Motion 1 and Motion 2.
Upon hearing this application, Lawyer Bory S. Touray for the United Democratic Party objected, saying the court was convened to hear Motion 1 adding Motion 2 is scheduled for Friday. Lawyer Touray insisted that the court should follow its roadmap as agreed at the “Status Conference” held on Monday at the Chief Justice’s Chambers.
Lawyer Tambadou for President Barrow re-argued saying the two motions are the same and the arguments for both should be made at once. Upon hearing the application by Counsel Tambadou and the objection by Barrister Touray, Hassan B. Jallow, Chief Justice said the court will hear Motion 1 today and will hear Motion 2 on Friday as agreed in their meeting.
This is when Lawyer Tambadou rose up and applied to withdraw Motion 1. Tambadou said both motions are the same, but Motion 2 is more elaborate.
Lawyer Tambadou told the court that they have filed a motion dated the 20thDecember 2021, which goes to challenge the competence of the UDP petition. He added that they filed another motion on Tuesday morning to consolidate the two motions.
Lawyer Bory S. Touray said he was served with the newest motion (seeking to consolidate the two motions) in court on Tuesday morning.
“We did not have time to look at it,” he said.
Lawyers Kebba Sanyang for IEC and Husein Thomasi for the Attorney General both indicated that they were served with the new motion seeking to consolidate the two motions.
Lawyer Bory S. Touray rose up and reminded the court of their agreement during the “Status Conference” held at the Office of the Chief Justice. He said the case was scheduled for the court to hear Motion 1 adding he is objecting to the request for the consolidation of the two motions. Lawyer Sheriff Tambadou said having regarding to the two motions, both touch on the petition and the amended petition as well as the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. He submitted that the motion for the consolidation of the two motions be acepted.
Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow said the court will hear Motion 1 first and then Motion 2 on Friday.
Upon hearing this, Lawyer Tambadou applied for Motion 1 to be struck out. Lawyer Touray for UDP still objected saying it was a delay tactic by the Lawyers for the President. He said the withdrawal amounts to holding the court at a ransom. Touray applied for the application to withdraw the motions to be dismissed.
Chief Justice Jallow accepted the withdrawal and struck out Motion 1. However, he ordered that the President should pay cost of D10, 000 for the delay. Motion 2 will be heard on Friday at 9:30 am.
In another development in this suit, the Court set-aside December 28 to hear the UDP petition and ordered that UDP will have 5 days to argue their case, President-elect, Adama Barrow will have further 5 days to argue his case, IEC will be accorded 2 days to argue their case while the Attorney General will have only one day to present his case.
Justice Jallow ordered that all parties in the case should file and serve their lists of witnesses, witness statements and other particulars on or before the 24th December 2021.