Mayor Lowe’s Lawyer Cross-Examines Commissioner Oreme

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (KEXX)

Lawyer Rachel Y. Mendy for Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe has commenced her cross-examination of Oreme E. Joiner of the Local Government Commission of Inquiry.

The Banjul Mayoress filed a suit at the High Court against the Attorney General (1st Respondent), Samba Faal, a former Mayor of Banjul (2nd Respondent), Oreme E. Joiner, (3rd Respondent) and Alhagie Sillah, a former National Assembly Member for Banjul North (4th Respondent).

She claimed the appointment of Samba Faal, Oreme E. Joiner, and Alhagie Sillah, who she believed are all members or sympathizers of NPP and their coalition partner, APRC, besides Samba Faal being a former mayor of the same council she now occupies, has violated her right to a fair hearing. 

Rohey Malick Lowe stated in her statement that two of the members of the commission namely the 2nd and 4th Respondents have held top positions at the Banjul City Council – Samba Faal was the Mayor of Banjul from 2008 to 2012 while Alagie Sillah was a Councillor from 1996 to 2008. She added that the said Members would therefore be affected by such an Inquiry.

“The said Commission of Inquiry was set up by the President of the Republic of The Gambia, the leader of the National People’s Party (NPP), and in which his party and its coalition members the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Respondents are known to be leading members/sympathizers and associates of he National People’s Party/APRC Alliance parties. As such, they would not be independent arbiters in carrying out their mandate under the said Commission, particularly with respect to me as a member of the UDP, the main opposition party whose flag I hold the position of Mayoress. This would violate my right to a fair hearing guaranteed under Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997 as well as the rules of natural justice. Photographs of rallies held by the NPP in various parts of The Gambia in which the said Alhagie Sillah and Samba Faal were in attendance and participated are now produced and shown to me in a bundle marked ‘RML35 series‘,“ she submitted.

She disclosed that the Oreme is or was at one time or another a co-opted member of the Regional Executive Committee of the NPP and virtue of which his appointment as Vice Chairperson of the IEC was rescinded following a public outcry.

“A copy of the list of Regional Executive Committee members published by the NPP in various medium as well as publications of such outcry and rescission are now produced and marked as ‘RML6 and RML7 series‘,“ she added.

“I believe allowing the commission to carry out its mandate with its present members will infringe on my constitutionally guaranteed rights as I prepare to run for Mayoress of Banjul in May 2023,“ she said.

Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe finally submitted that it is only proper under the circumstances and in the interest of justice and fair hearing that the said application be granted.  

Commissioner Oreme E. Joiner said he lives in Brusubi, West Coast Region and serving Commissioner of the Local Government Commission of Inquiry set up by President Adama Barrow. 

He informed the court that he has seen the originating summons filed by Mayor Lowe saying he disagrees with her because he is not a member of NPP. He testified that what Rohey Malick Lowe said about him was not accurate.

“All these documents are talking about me. But I have serious disagreement made there by certain individuals” the witness said. 

“What is your disagreement” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“I am not a member of the NPP Banjul Executive” the witness answered.

When asked whether he was not co-opted in the NPP Banjul Regional Bureau, he said “I am aware of that.”

“Mr. Joiner you were one of the first people to join the NPP when it was set up” Lawyer Mendy said.

“No” the witness answered.

“In fact you are an associate and sympathizer of the said Party” Lawyer Mendy said.

“No” the witness replied.

The witness said he knows Babucarr Gaye, the former or present chairman of the NPP Banjul Executive Committee.

“In January 2021 Mr. Gaye publicly confirmed that you were a member of his party NPP even though you were not a committee member. Was he at the time not speaking with you?” Lawyer Mendy asked.

“I am not a member of the NPP” the witness answered. 

At this point Justice Achibonga intervened and say that is not the question. 

The witness, in his reply, said Gaye was wrong.

“It is correct that you were appointed in 2021 as the Vice Chairman of the IEC by the President which was short lived?”  Mendy asked.

“Yes” the witness answered

“In fact, your appointment was reversed  because of the public outtcry by the public due to your membership in the NPP” Mendy said.

“I am not aware of the circumstances that made my appointment to be reversed” the witness answered.

“Are you also saying that you are not aware of the public outcry about your appointment” Barrister Mendy asked.

“Yes, I am aware” the witness answered.

“And, in fact, the outcry was that your appointment violated Section 42 (5) C of the Constitution because of your previous membership in the NPP” Mendy said.

“I am not aware of that” the witness answered.

“When your appointment was revoked by the President, did you make any attempt to ask why?” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“No, I didn’t,” the witness answered.

The Lawyer used the Government press release by Ebrima G. Sankareh to confront the witness with it regarding why his appointment to the IEC was reversed.The press release was dated 5 January 2021.

“It is correct that such emerging evidence that contradicts your appointment as Deputy Chairperson of IEC was your previous membership of the NPP” lawyer R. Mendy asked  

“I am not aware of that” the witness answered. 

“I am putting it to you that you are fully aware of that emerging evidence as a member of the NPP,” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“No, I was not a member of the NPP,” the witness maintained.

“Mr. Joiner subsequent to revocation of your appointment as Deputy Chairman of the IEC, you were appointed by the President as Chairman of Board of Directors of SSHFC which is public corporation” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“Yes” the witness answered. 

“When were you appointed?” Mendy asked.

“About 2 years ago” the witness abswered. 

“And you still holding that position” lawyer R. Mendy asked 

“Yes,” the witness answered.

“Mr. Joiner, where did you sign the affidavit in opposition?” Mendy asked.

“I signed it at Djembe Beach Hotel where the commission did the sitting” the witness answered.

“It is located at Kololi. Is that correct?” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“Yes,” the witness answered. 

“Who brought the affidavit for you?” Mendy asked.

“A clerk of the court, and I signed it,” the witness answered 

“Apart from you and the said clerk who was present?” lawyer R. Mendy asked.

“No one,” the witness answered  

“I am putting to you the evidence you give about non membership of NPP is not true,”  Mendy sais.

“No” the witness answered.

“All the media house in the court have established your membership to NPP” Mendy said.

The court requested both parties to address it on the issues of the affidavit in opposition which was not sworn to by a commissioner of oath. The parties were given 7 days to file their arguments. 

The matter was adjourned to 10 July 2023.

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