Attestations in Banjul – High Court Sought to Arbitrate CSOs’ Lawsuit against Government, Banjul Mayor, IEC
On Tuesday, June 29th, two Gambia Civil Society Organizations, namely the Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development along with Abdou Aziz Gaye, Councilor for Box Bar Ward in Banjul North, filed a summons before the High Court against the Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Attorney General. The plaintiffs are challenging the legality and validity of the mandate granted to the Mayor of Banjul to issue attestations to individuals in her constituency as part of the ongoing general voter registration.
It is the position of the three plaintiffs that there is no legislation (law) that mandates a “Mayor” to issue attestations to constituents to apply for a voter’s card as this power and authority are only vested to Village Alkalo or District Chief (Seyfo) as per section. 12(2)(e). Therefore, the plaintiffs argue that the IEC and the mayor’s actions conflict with the laws governing voter registration and are therefore ultra vires and a grave violation of the Election Act and other relevant laws.
The three plaintiffs contend that the issuance of attestation to constituents of Banjul is unlawful and is not in conformity with the relevant laws governing elections in the country.
They (Plaintiffs) argue that the mayor lacks such powers, and her action is a severe contravention of the Elections Act.
The Plaintiffs want the high court to make a declaration that the actions of the Mayor of Banjul in issuing attestations to constituents of the City of Banjul in the ongoing Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) general registration of the voters contravene section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act.
Also, they want the court to make a declaration that the actions of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in conferring the power to the Office of the Mayor of Banjul to administer attestation forms generated by the IEC to claim voter cards in the City of Banjul contravene section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act;
They want the high court to make an order quashing the decision of the IEC to bestow upon the Mayor of Banjul the power and authority to issue attestations to the Constituents of the City of Banjul.
Also, they want the court to make an order setting aside all attestation forms endorsed and or issued by the Mayor of Banjul for which the IEC issued voter cards. Consequently, an order striking out and or canceling all voter cards issued by the IEC that were supported by attestation forms issued and or endorsed by the Mayor of Banjul.
This is not the first legal suit filed by these two civil society organizations against arms of the State of The Gambia. They recently instituted a lawsuit against the Gambia Government and succeeded in quashing out a 54.3 million dalasis loan scheme Gambian lawmakers allocated to themselves. The action of the lawmakers was declared unlawful in May this year.