QUESTION OF THE DAY
All Gambians are now aware that one of the following documents is required before one could be registered as a voter.
1) valid Gambian Identity Card,
2) Gambian Passport,
3) Birth Certificate, or
4) an Attestation from Alkalo or Seyfo
It is evident to all that there is no Seyfo or Alkalo in Banjul.
How then is the Mayoress chosen to be the attestor of claimants for registration in Banjul?
According to the Mayoress she is given the responsibility by the IEC.
According to the IEC it is relying on Section 127 and precedence to maintain attestation by the Mayoress. Section 127 reads:
127. Power to resolve issues not addressed by this Act
(I) Where an issue arises relating to electoral matters which is not addressed by this Act or any other law, the Commission shall resolve the issue in keeping with the standards and rules of natural justice and fairness.”
The IEC could make decision on attestation but it should be line with the rules of natural justice and fairness.
However, we cannot proceed to even talk about the rules of natural justice and fairness in this case because of the fact the purported decision of the IEC is not found in any Gazette.
The Interpretation Act has indicated what should be done if the IEC wants its decision to have the force of law. Section 11 reads:
“Where an Act confers authority to make subsidiary legislation, the following provisions shall have effect with reference to the making and operation of the subsidiary legislation, unless a contrary intention appears –
(a) the subsidiary legislation may be at any time be amended, varied, rescinded or revoked by the same authority and in the same manner by and in which it was done;
Provided that where the authority has been replaced wholly or partially by another authority, the power conferred herein upon the original authority may be exercised by the replacing authority concerning all matters or things within its jurisdiction as if it were the original authority;
(b) there may be annexed to any subsidiary legislation, the penalty for any breach or contravention thereof not exceeding a fine of one thousand dalasis or imprisoned for a term of three months or to both the fine and imprisonment as the authority making the subsidiary legislation may think fit;
(c) a subsidiary legislation shall not be inconsistent with the provision of the Act;
(d) Subsidiary legislation shall be published in the Gazette and shall have the force of law upon the publication thereof or from the date named therein:
Provided that a Proclamation may be published in such manner as the authority making it shall direct and upon publication the person making the Proclamation shall forthwith have the force of law unless the Proclamation otherwise provides.”
There is no record of any decision authorising the Mayoress to sign attestation forms.
According to section 8 of the Elections Act :
“(1) The Commission shall, in addition to the powers and functions conferred on it by the Constitution, be responsible for-
(a) the conduct of registration of voters and the nomination and election of candidates for the offices of President, Member of the National Assembly, Mayor or Mayoress, Councillor and such other office as the Commission designates under section 3;”
How could it be in line with the rule of fairness to allow a Mayor or Mayoress to sign attestation forms for claimants who he or she would have to appeal to for nomination and votes to be elected in subsequent elections?
Apparently, attestations could best be signed by registrar of births
In short, registration of Births and Deaths are provided for by law.
Section 6 of the Act reads: “(1) The Registrar and Deputy Registrars shall register, or cause to be registered, as nearly as may be, every birth and every death according to Forms A and B set out in the First Schedule to his Act.
(2) If the Registrar or Chief Deputy Registrar at any time has reason to believe that a birth or death has been or has become incorrectly registered, he may call for such evidence as he thinks fit as to the correctness or otherwise of the registrations, and if satisfied that the birth or death has been or is incorrectly registered, he shall, on payment of the prescribed fee, correct the register kept under the provisions of this Act and any certified copy or extract issued under the provisions of sections 11 and 12 of this Act.”
Hence the outcry will undermine the integrity of the registration exercise. The Mayoress and The IEC have legal counsels and should seek legal opinion on this matter or ask their counsels to directly speak to the public on the legality of the exercise. The registration exercise should not be given partisan connotations.