By Buba Gagigo
The United Democratic Party (UDP) has disagreed with the disqualification by the Independent Electoral Commission of Momodou Sabally to run for the Busumbala Constituency in the 9th April parliamentary election.
“You can see that this (IEC) Returning Officer first usurped the functions of the Supreme Court to reject Mr Sabally’s nomination. Second, the reasons why Mr Sabally could be disqualified from contesting elections are not contained in the report of the [Janneh] commission. And, this in fact confirmed by the white paper which says that all the monies alleged [to have been misappropriated] should be refunded from the assets of the former president. Why ban him? We want to put out this to the world and to say that IEC is at it again. IEC is at it again to help the NPP win and there could be no clear indication of that, than what this Returning Officer has done,” UDP leader, Lawyer Ousainu Darboe told journalists on Thursday at a press conference.
Reacting to the news, a prominent lawyer Melville Roberts alleged that IEC has acted outside the remit of the Law.
‘’A government white paper is not Law. It is a policy document. Only the courts can give it the force of law. It is for that same reason that the courts rejected the legality of the selling of Jammeh’s assets by the Ministry of Justice and deemed it illegal. If the IEC is now rejecting Sabally, then it means they have acted outside the remit of the Law. If lawyer Darboe was accepted as a presidential candidate, there is absolutely no reason that sabally should be rejected. Both were found wanting by a Commission of Inquiry. You cannot accept Lawyer Darboe’s nomination and reject that of Momodou Sabally,’’ Lawyer Roberts posted on Facebook page.
After a long scrutiny of his papers at the nomination desk by IEC officials, Commissioner Anthony Robert Secka, Returning Officer for the West Coast Region for the 2022 Parliamentary Election informed Mr Sabally that Section 90 (1)(e) of the 1997 Constitution has disqualified him from running in the 9th April election.
“We have gone through all the documents that you’ve submitted and that’s why we have received your nomination and a list that you both signed indicating everything that you submitted. So we have to go through the whole process and check through everything to make sure everything is intact. Unfortunately, like it’s stated clearly in the copy that was in the nomination form, the guidelines to the nomination, you have qualifications and disqualifications. Now according to Section 90 (1)(e), it’s clearly stated that because you’ve been adversely mentioned at the commission and the subsequent process, you have been disqualified,” Returning Officer Secka told Momodou Sabally.
In his reply, Sabally said: “But I have appealed against the adverse findings of the commission and that process is on. So what authority do you have to override a process that’s higher than you, constitutional of the Republic of The Gambia? I don’t think you have the right to do that. I think you are abusing your office and that’s completely unacceptable in a democratic transition. I think you are being used as a tool to oppress an innocent Gambian who has not been found wanting by any court of law.”
The rejection led to a clash between some supporters of Sabally and the PIU officers which led to the firing of tear gas by the PIU and the throwing of stones by supporters in response.
At least a PIU officer sustained injury on the face, while one of the unarmed UDP supporters was beaten and subsequently arrested by a group of PIU officers.