Written by Abdoulie John
Justice B.V.P Mahoney of the Banjul High Court has today granted victory to the collective Gambia Participates in a case that has been making headlines for the past couple months.
In handing down his verdict, Justice Mahoney made it clear that the “actions of the Mayor of Banjul in issuing attestations to constituents of the City of Banjul in Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) general registration of voters process are in contravention of (…) the Elections Act.”
The Mayor of Banjul was given the mandate by the country’s electoral body to issue attestations for people to get registered for the upcoming Presidential election. The move raised eyebrows in some quarters and prompted Gambia Participates to take the matter up with the court.
Weighing in on the decision taken by the IEC to confer “the power to the Office of the Mayor of Banjul to administer attestation forms” issued by the electoral body in order to get voter cards in Banjul, Justice Mahoney also said that such actions “are in contravention of the Elections Act.”
The tiny West African nation is inexorably moving towards the December 2021 Presidential Elections as the stakes continue to get higher and higher.
Speaking to reporters, Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty lauded the court for passing a judgement in favour of Gambia Participates. He then added that the legal action they initiated was all about challenging the validity of an action.
“Our argument was the Elections Act doesn’t give the IEC powers to tell the Mayor to issue attestations,” he said while indicating that wasn’t in accordance with the law governing elections.
Looking at the broader issue, Counsel Fatty said it is important for public servants to know that whatever they do, should be within the confines of the law.
“That is good for our democracy,” he emphasized.
Marr Nyang, one of Gambia Participates leading voices, who also spoke to this medium, described the verdict as “another milestone” they have achieved as civil society.
“This indicates that we are not going to sit and watch our authorities violate our laws,” he voiced out. “We are doing this because we don’t want to go back to where we were during the 2016 political impasse.”
As Justice Mahoney clearly stated that the court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to revoke more than 2,000 voters cards issued by the City of Banjul, Nyang said these matters will be addressed by the revising courts.
The High Court also awarded D20,000 to the pro-democracy group.
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