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Supreme Court Solicitor Agrees IEC Needs Legal Department

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By Landing Ceesay 

Barrister Muhammad Ndure and Solicitor at Supreme Court agreed that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) like any other public institution needs a legal unit to address its legal needs. 

The Solicitor at the Supreme Court made the remarks in response to the recommendation by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Election Observation Mission to the Gambia for the IEC to reinforce its capacity by establishing a legal unit.

“The importance of the legal department is to offer advice on the institution’s adherence to due process and compliance with the law. This is a fact that you can only adhere to the law if you know it and are familiar with it. So with the presence of lawyers in the institution, it will help to guide them on matters of law and its compliance. 

“So I want to believe that if there was a legal department, maybe the lapses the IEC has made could have been avoided. A legal department can also save the institution and government money. Because the services of private lawyers that were solicited in the process could have been taken care of by the in-house lawyers. A legal department with permission from the Attorney General “fiat” can represent IEC, in any case, they have before the courts,” Barrister Ndure said. 

The apex court solicitor further stated that it is proven that all public institutions need a legal department to help them better comply with the law and be also guided in the proper adherence to due process.

“I am also very much aware that the AG Chambers and Ministry of Justice is available to advise all state institutions where they seek it. But if the IEC has an in-house lawyer with the necessary expertise and experience, that will greatly help in offering proper legal guidance,” he said. 

Barrister Muhammad Ndure made these remarks in a telephone interview with this reporter concerning the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission’s recommendation to the IEC to reinforce its capacity by establishing a legal unit. 

Recently, the IEC lost three electoral cases this year at the High Court, and many argued that circumstances that led to those cases could have been avoided, had the institution gotten a legal unit. The cases were filed against the Commission by Civil Society Organisations, the Citizens’ Alliance Party and the Gambia Moral Congress. 

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