By Yankuba Jallow
Justices of the Gambia Court of Appeal on Thursday, 29th April 2021 struck out the civil appeal case involving the United Democratic Party (UDP) versus the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Sheriffo Sonko, Councillor Bilal Faal and Councillor Momodou Bojang.
The case was brought in 2020 by the UDP after the party expelled Sonko –the Chairman Brikama of Area Council, Faal and Bojang seeking bye-elections to be held in their positions. The appeal case emanated from the high court after the trial judge decided to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation. Since 2020, the appeal case could not make headway.
On Wednesday, the case was called before Justices Omar M.M. Njie, Na-Cisse Wadda and Basiru V.P. Mahoney, but none of the parties in the case were present.
Lawyer Abdul Aziz Bensouda for UDP informed the court that his senior Lawyer Borry S. Touray has filed a notice of withdrawal of the case. The notice was dated 19th March 2021 and filed on the 20th March.
Lawyer Kebba Sanyang for IEC said he was not served with the notice of withdrawal by UDP, but accepted service in court. After going through the notice, he said he was not opposed to the application by the party to have the matter withdrawn.
Lawyer Ida Richards for Sheriffo Sonko, like Lawyer Sanyang, said she was not also served, but accepted service in court. She also said she was not opposed to the application.
Justice Omar M.M. Njie, the President of the Gambia Court of Appeal struck out the case since there was no objection from the respondents – IEC and Sheriffo Sonko.
The decision to withdraw was based on the Supreme Court decision in the same matter in which the apex court held that Sheriffo Sonko cannot lose his seat merely because UDP expelled him. On this basis, the UDP decided to withdraw the case.
In another development, the same bench of Justices of the Court of Appeal struck out the appeal case of Sheriffo Sonko against IEC.
Lawyer Ida Richards for Chairman Sonko said she has filed a notice of withdrawal dated the 23rd April 2021 seeking withdrawal of the appeal case.
Lawyer Kebba Sanyang said he was not served with the notice, but accepted service in court. He informed the court that he had no objection to the application for the withdrawal of the case. Justice Njie struck out the case.
In both cases, there was no order as to cost. Readers would recall that the Supreme Court has held that Sheriffo Sonko cannot lose his seat on the basis that UDP expelled him. On this regard, Sonko has got what he wanted from the apex court and on this basis; he had to withdraw his appeal.