By Yankuba Jallow
Justice Basiru V.P. Mahoney has given Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Attorney General, three days to reply to the voters’ card attestation case brought to Court by two civil society groups and the Councilor of Box Bar Ward in Banjul.
In this case, the appellants are Gambia Participates who were represented by Marr Nyang, the Executive Secretary, Councilor Abdou Aziz Gaye of Box Bar Ward and Center for Research and Policy Development, who were represented by Sait Matty Jaw, whilst the respondents are the Mayor of Banjul Rohey Malick Lowe, who was absent, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), who were represented by Sulayman Joof, the Director of Administration at the Commission and the Attorney General.
Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty appeared for the appellants, while Lawyer Sasum Sillah appeared for the Mayor; Lawyer Kebba Sanyang appeared for the IEC and Lawyer Binga D. the Director of Civil Litigation, appeared for the Attorney General.
The lawyers for the respondents informed the Court that they needed time to reply to the arguments filed by the appellants and on this basis, Justice Mahoney gave them three days to file their responses to the case and adjourned the case to Monday for the lawyers to make their oral arguments on behalf of their clients. Lawyers Fatty and Sillah both requested for forty five minutes to argue, whereas Lawyers Sanyang and Binga both requested thirty minutes each to make their oral arguments. Their requests were granted by the Judge.
For the information of the readers, ‘Gambia Participates’ and the Centre for Research and Policy Development (both civil society organizations), and the Councilor for Box Bar Ward in Banjul North Abdou Aziz Gaye, filed a summon before the High Court on 23rd June 2021, against the Mayor of Banjul (Rohey Malick Low), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Attorney General, challenging the legality and validity of the mandate accorded the Mayor, to issue attestations to Banjulians, in the ongoing general voter registration.
The position of the three plaintiffs is that there is no legislation (law) that mandates a “Mayor” to issue attestation to constituents in order to apply for a voters’ card; that this power and authority is only vested to village Alkalos or District Chiefs (Seyfo) as per Section 12 (2) (e).
They argue that the actions of the IEC and Mayor of Banjul are in conflict with the laws governing voter registration and ultra vires and a grave violation of the Election Act and other relevant laws. The three plaintiffs contend that the issuance of attestation to the constituents of Banjul is unlawful and is not in conformity with the relevant laws governing elections in the country. The plaintiffs further argue that the Mayor of Banjul lack such powers and her action is a serious contravention of the Elections Act.
The plaintiffs therefore want the High Court to make a declaration that the actions of the Mayor of Banjul in issuing attestations to constituents of the City of Banjul in the ongoing Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) general registration of the voters, contravenes Section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act. They want the Court to make a declaration that the actions of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in conferring
such power to the Office of the Mayor of Banjul to administer attestation forms generated by the IEC for the purpose of claiming voters’ cards in the City of Banjul, contravenes Section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act and want the High Court to make an order quashing the decision of the IEC to bestow upon the Mayor of Banjul, the power and authority to issue attestations to the constituents of the City of Banjul.
Also, they want the Court to make an order setting aside all attestation forms endorsed and or issued by the Mayor of Banjul for which voters’ cards were issued by the IEC.
Consequently, an order striking-out and or cancelling all voters’ cards issued by the IEC which were supported by attestation forms issued and or endorsed by the Mayor of Banjul, is what they are calling for.