Accusing IEC of Appointing NPP members as Presiding Officers

By Yankuba Jallow

The United Democratic Party has on Tuesday, 14th December filed an election petition before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the 2021 presidential elections results as they accused the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of using members of the National People’s Party (NPP) as Presiding Officers at some polling stations.

The yellow party came second in the December 4th polls polling 27% of the total votes casted. The party expressed dissatisfaction of the results even before the Returning Officer for the 2021 presidential elections completed the announcement of the results. The party leader and flagbearer, Lawyer A.N.M Ousainou Darboe said he “rejected” the results promising that they were gathering evidence.

After his self-proclaimed rejection of the results, Darboe’s party has now forwarded their challenge of the results before the Gambia Supreme Court to determine the validity of the polls.

Lawyer Darboe has contested 5 times in presidential elections and lost in all.

The Gambia Constitution, under section 49 provides that “Any registered political party which has participated in the Presidential election or an independent candidate who has participated in such an election may apply to the Supreme Court to determine the validity of the election of a President by filling a petition within ten days of the declaration of the result of the election.”

UDP’s Alagie S. Darboe who signed the petition on behalf of the party said IEC absorbed renowned NPP supporters to supervise the 2021 presidential elections. He said the NPP supporters who were appointed as presiding officers included: Fabakary Ceesay of Jambur, Fansu Sambou of Brikama, Ousman Manneh of Kembujeh, Ramatoulie Bajinka of Brikama, Oumie Hydara of Brikama Wellingara, Ross Bass of Lamin Village, Nyarra Sowe of Sibanor, Lamin K. Jawara of Farato, Malick Jammeh of Kembujeh, L.S.A Jatta of Kembujeh, Lamin M. Manneh of Marakisa, Amadou Sanneh of Brikama, Alassan Bah of Basse, Alfusainey Jarju of Sohm, Alieu Jarjusy of Nyofelleh, Fatou Jammeh of Kuloro and Fabakary Gibba of Ndemban.

UDP said the election was invalid accusing officials of the Independent Electoral Commission of malpractice.

UDP said the officials of the IEC did not permit their agents to be present at the time of sealing the ballot boxes in the morning before the commencement of the polls.

The party also said some voters were denied the opportunity to cast their votes for not wearing face mask. The party argued that there was no previous announcement to that effect that face mask is a requirement. 

UDP said the presence of some Alkalolu at some polling stations was condoned by officials of the IEC even though it did not conform to the standards of ethics.

The yellow party said in Basse, Upper River Region, Police Commissioner Ensa Badjie came and ordered the IEC staff to re-open the polling station for those who came late.

The party  said voting continued in Sukuta and Farato until 12 midnight side by side with the counting of the results contrary  to the IEC announcement.

UDP said some polling stations were congested and the IEC did not provide enough voting booths in some stations, namely: Busumbala Mission School polling station, Old Yundum polling station and also in Sukuta; leading to some voters leaving without casting their votes.

Alagie S. Darboe, the Senior Administrative Secretary to the party signed the petition on behalf of the yellow party.

Darboe said the election was invalid and void as he accused Adama Barrow and some of his NPP of financiers of inducements to the electorates countrywide during the campaign period contrary to section 116 of the Elections Act.

He said, in a bid to induce and influence the Alkalolu and residents of their villages, President Adama Barrow announced that Alkalolu would receive D3000 monthly salary, if he wins.

Also, the lawmaker pleaded that the Minister of Regional Government and Lands, Musa Drammeh, paid one million dalasis or thereabout to the Alkalolu and village development committees of some communities while the President was on campaign.

Darboe maintained that the election was invalid by reason of the involvement of public officers leading to the elections. In support of his argument, Darboe said Chiefs and Governors were involved in campaign for the NPP adding Chiefs were in campaign committee of NPP at each Region across the country.

Darboe said the 2021 election was invalid by reason of hate   against the Mandinka and in order to induce fear in the voters against UDP; when it became a campaign slogan of the NPP that if UDP wins, the Fulas, Wollofs, Serers and other ethnic minorities will be expelled from the country.

The party said the 2021 election results were invalid by reason of lack of transparency in the counting and transmission of the results to the IEC headquarters. The party said their agents were given a fax copy of the results of the collation centre results without attaching thereto copies of the polling centre results.  The party added the IEC refused to supply them the information of polling station results at the time. The party maintained that the presiding officers failed to record the names and address of all polling agents on the polling station results form as required by section 71 subsection 2 of the Elections Act.

UDP said the polling station results forms were not kept in secured manner such as sealing them in envelopes when they were being transported to the collation centres.

UDP said their agent at the collation centre in Kerewan was denied access to the results of North Bank Region that were presented there. Also, the party said their agent was not given the results after the collation exercise and the IEC officials began jubilation.

UDP said the election was invalid by reason of fraudulent and wrongful insertion of non-Gambians (resident in the Gambia) in the voter list countrywide. The party said they were not aware of this until the appearance of Non-Gambians was reported during and after the election. The party promised to present to the court the names of the Non-Gambians.

UDP wants the Supreme Court to order IEC to produce their database and other relevant materials.

What is UDP looking for?

They want the Supreme Court to determine that the election of President Adama Barrow was invalid by reason of corrupt practices. UDP wants the apex court to hold that President Adama Barrow was not duly elected and his election was otherwise invalid.

UDP also wants the court to determine that the votes casted in favour of President Adama Barrow in all regions as void by reason of his corrupt and illegal practices.

They want the highest court to determine that the election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the electoral laws, widespread irregularities and improprieties which affected the results in favour of President Adama Barrow.

Finally, the party wants the Supreme Court to determine that the elections was invalid by the non-compliance with the Constitution and all applicable election laws.