Halifa Warns IEC Chair Of Court Action Over Mayor Lowe’s Attestation!
It seems that Dodou Sanno’s claim of “illegality” concerning Mayor Lowe’s attestation of voters, in your story below, has found some support from Hon. Halifa Sallah in this Foroyaa analysis of the Constitutional provisions.
The Constitution allows “District Seyfo or an Alkalo” to provide attestation … but Mayors are not mentioned at all. Section 12 Subsection (2)(d).
The IEC Chair agrees that the Mayors are not mentioned in the Constitution but justifies allowing Mayor Lowe to attest as follows: “No, it is not in the law. It is also not illegal for Mayors to attest for others applying for voters’ cards. We are empowered by the same law touse good judgment on issues that law is silent about.” The Chair seemingly has backing on this from Section 134 Subsection (2)(c).
If Halifa Goes to Court, The Court Will Ask …
- Mayor Lowe is a politician from a contesting political party. Should politicians be involved in the voter registration process at all? Is that not the task of the IEC?
- Is the IEC Chair using his powers to make rules (such as allowing Mayors to attest) as the Constitution intended? Can it really be said that the Constitution intended that elected political party officials should be involved at all in decided who can and cannot vote (which is what attestation does)?
- Thirdly, Parliament knew what it was doing when it designated those Seyfos and Alkalos. If Parliament had intended to allow politicians to be involved in attestation, the Constitution would have said so clearly.
That Said, Chairman Njie Is Addressing A Real Problem!
Banjul has no Seyfos or Alkalos. So what to do? If I were the IEC Chair, I would have empowered Imams and Church Leaders to undertake attestation in Banjul. Alternatively, I would have an Attestation Panel of non-political eminent persons. I dare say, respectful, this would have passed the IEC Chair’s “good judgement” test.
Question of the Day – Will Halifa Win If He Goes To Court On This?
Dida Jallow-Halake, Notting Hill, UK.
Foroyaa: QUESTION OF THE DAY
Section 12 Subsection (2) states:
“Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person’s name shall not be entered on a register of voters in a constituency unless he or she produces any one of the following documents-
(a) a birth certificate;
(b) a Gambian passport;
(c) a National Identity Card; and
(d) a document certified by the District Seyfo or an Alkalo of the village of birth of the applicant stating that the applicant was born in the district or village.”
The provision makes it mandatory for one to have the documents mentioned to be registered as a voter. The attention from a Mayor / Mayoress is not included.
Section 134 Subsection (2) states:
“The Commission may make Rules generally for the better carrying out of any of the provisions of this Actand shall in particular make Rules –
(a) prescribing fees for the registration of political parties and any other fees which may be prescribed under this Act;
(b) revising the deposits payable under this Act;
(c) prescribing such procedures not covered under this Act as the Commission considers necessary for the effective conduct of elections;
(d) authorizing individuals, local and international organisations, and members of the press and media to witness registration of voters and the conduct of elections;
(e) regarding the certificate to be used by Returning Officers to allow election officers and police officers to vote at their places;
(f) regarding the forms of the Report on the Closing of Polls and Report on the Counting of Votes;
(g) prescribing the Certificate of Authorisation required under section 86;
(h) prescribing the amount of donations and gifts which a candidate or political party may receive with respect to any election;
(i) prescribing forms for returns of death and the registration of political parties; and
(j) prescribing any matter which may be prescribed under this Act.”
However, rules are subsidiary legislation. Section 3 of The Interpretation Act defines subsidiary legislation as “any Proclamation, rule, regulation, Order, Notice, by-law or other instrument made under any Act or by or under any other lawful authority and having legislative effect.”
Section 11 indicates how subsidiary legislation are put into effect to become law. It reads:
“Where an Act confers authority to make subsidiary legislation, the following provisions shall have effect with reference to the making and operation of the subsidiary legislation,unless a contrary intention appears
(a) the subsidiary legislation may be at any time be amended, varied, rescinded or revoked by the same authority and in the same manner by and in which it was done;
Provided that where the authority has been replaced wholly or partially by another authority, the power conferred herein upon the original authority may be exercised by the replacing authority concerning all matters or things within its jurisdiction as if it were the original authority;
(b) there may be annexed to any subsidiary legislation, the penalty for any breach or contravention thereof not exceeding a fine of one thousand dalasis or imprisoned for a term of three months or to both the fine and imprisonment as the authority making the subsidiary legislation may think fit;
(c) a subsidiary legislation shall not be inconsistent with the provision of the Act;
(d) Subsidiary legislation shall be published in the Gazette and shall have the force of law upon the publication thereof or from the date named therein:
Provided that a Proclamation may be published in such manner as the authority making it shall direct and upon publication the person making the Proclamation shall forthwith have the force of law unless the Proclamation otherwise provides.”
Hence there is no legal foundation at this stage for the Mayoress to attest the citizenship of claimants. If the practice continues court action may soon be instituted to stop it.
BREAKING NEWS: IEC CHAIRMAN COUNTERS PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER DODOU SANO; AS SANO QUESTIONS THE LEGALITY OF THE VOTERS’ CARDS ATTESTATIONS BEING PROVIDED BY MAYORESS LOWE!
June 2, 2021
The IEC Chairman Alieu Mamar Njie says there is no provision in The Gambian constitution which says that elected Mayors can provide attestation for voters’ cards applicants, but in the case of Banjul, the commission has decided to use good judgment to allow Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe, to provide attestation for Banjulians applying for voters’ cards. The IEC Chairman made the statement yesterday in an interview with Freedom Radio Gambia.
“The law has empowered Chiefs and Alkalos to provide attestation for voters’ cards applicants. If the law is silent on issues, the IEC is legally mandated to make good judgment, hence that is why the Banjul Mayor is attesting for the applicants. Keep in mind that Banjul doesn’t have an Alkalo, it doesn’t have a chief. The law no longer allows five elders to attest for voters. The Mayor has to come in to vouch for the applicants, that decision came from us at the IEC,” Mr. Njie told me.
The Chairman’s government statement followed an online rant from Dodou Sano, President Barrow’s political adviser, who accused the Banjul Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe of transporting people from the Kombos to get them registered in Banjul. Sano, in a WhatsApp audio message, has accused Mrs. Lowe of overstepping her bounds as an elected Mayoress. He said it is unfair for an elected Mayoress to engage in such attestation of voters.
According to Dodou Sano, Rohey Lowe is the first Mayoress, who have meddled in the registration of voters. “I was born in Banjul. I was here when James Gomez was the Mayor of Banjul during the Jawara’s government. James Gomez had never provided attestation for voters to be issued voters’ cards. Samba Faal was the Mayor of Banjul during Yahya Jammeh’s rule. He never provided attestation for voters. Rohey Lowe is a participant. She wants to be re-elected as the Mayor of Banjul. She cannot be a candidate and referee at the same time. She is helping others to obtain voters’s cards so that they can vote for her,” Sano remarked.
In his reaction, Chairman Njie rebuffed Dodou Sano’s claims. “Banjul Mayors have always been providing attestation for voters’ cards applicants. That’s not something new. It had happened during the First and Second Republics. There is nothing illegal about Mayoress Lowe attesting for voters’ cards applicants. There is no guarantee that the people she attested for will voter for her, they could voter other candidates,” the IEC boss told me.
When quizzed whether there is any provision in the constitution that states that Mayors can attest for voters’ cards applicants, Njie replied in the negative. “No, it is not in the law. It is also not illegal for Mayors to attest for others applying for voters’ cards. We are empowered by the same law to use good judgment on issues that law is silent about,” Njie remarked.
“Rohey Lowe’s late Father was the Mayor of Banjul. I think they are after her, because she is the first elected female Mayor in The Gambia. She is not doing anything illegal. Since there is no Alkalo, no chief in her city, she can do the attestations,” he added.
The IEC Chairman added that about 20 percent of the voters’ cards applicants had ID Cards, while the rest are using the other requirements to obtain the card. He said applicants, who have met the necessary requirements are issued voters’ cards.
He has called on agents, who have been assigned to monitor the voter registration to adhere to the IEC’s set rules and regulations.
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