By Yankuba Jallow
One Haddy Jallow of Banjul has asked the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to investigate the allegation surrounding the National Assembly member for Banjul South, Fatoumata Njai, regarding her having dual-nationality.
Fatoumata Njai is also known as Touma Njai. She was declared winner in the April 9 National Assembly elections in Banjul South.
Haddy Jallow, through her lawyer, Lamin K. Mboge has on the 19 April written to the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) informing him that Touma Njie’s dual nationality was not known to her at the time of her nominations even though rumours were rife that she holds citizenship of England, making her a British national at the time of her nomination.
Lawyer Mboge said if the allegation is true then she is disqualified to hold office as a member of the National Assembly. Lawyer Mboge cited section 90 subsection (1) paragraph (a) of the Constitution of which provides that “no person is qualified for election as member of the National Assembly of he or she holds the citizenship or nationality of a country other than The Gambia.”
Haddy Jallow said she lodged a “formal verbal” complaint to the IEC during the period of nominations of candidates asking the election house to investigate Touma Njai’s nomination, but the IEC replied that they do not have any proof.
Lawyer Mboge said the IEC should have made inquiries at least from the British Embassy about Touma’s alleged dual nationality claim.
Mboge said the IEC went through her nomination without qualification.
“Having gone through her nomination without qualification, she is further disqualified under section 91 (1) of the Constitution,” Lawyer Mboge wrote.
This section provides “A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly subject to subsection (2), if any circumstances arises which, if he or she were not a member, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election as a member or nomination as a member”.
Lawyer Mboge stressed that even after she is sworn in as a member of the National Assembly, once it is discovered that she holds nationality of another country, she will be disqualified.
Lawyer Mboge said IEC is the institution responsible for the conduct of elections in the country and the electoral body has the duty to ensure that only eligible and qualified candidates are nominated. He added if the IEC fails or refuses or neglects to perform their duty, he has instruction from Haddy Jallow to sue IEC to seek declaration that Touma Njai’s nomination was unconstitutional and should be declared thanks and void and there should be another election for the seat, Banjul South.