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Saturday, June 12, 2021

BAC CHAIRMAN TO KEEP HIS JOB

By Bruce Asemota

A landmark Supreme Court ruling has handed a lifeline to Brikama Area Council chairman, Sheriffo Sonko to keep his job.

The ruling is a major success for Mr Sonko against his political party UDP which, in a different suit, asked the court to order the Independent Electoral Commission to call a by-election, relying on the Local Government Act requiring elected local officials to lose their seat when they are expelled or left their parties.

The UDP had expelled Mr Sonko for not conforming to the party’s rules after he was suspected to have shifted political allegiance to President Barrow.

But the Supreme Court declared yesterday that even if Sheriffo Sonko leaves his party, the constitution still gives him the right to remain as the chairman of Brikama Area Council.

The judgment, read by Justice Awa Bah, further disclosed that the election to the office of the chairmanship position was done by a direct suffrage and not by the political party he belongs to.

She refers to section 91 (1) d of the Constitution which ‘clearly provides that a member of National Assembly still retains his /her position even if she vacates the political party he/she was a member at the time of his/her election to that position.”

Justice Awa Bah disclosed that section 19 (1) g of the Local Government Act is inconsistent with section 194 (c) of the Constitution.

 She stated that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that section 194 provides for direct election to the positions of mayors and local government chairpersons.

The court pointed out that the Local Government Act in seeking to remove officials elected by direct suffrage is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.

Background

Sheriffo Sonko filed a suit against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the suit seeks amongst other things an injunction to restrain the electoral body or their servants, agent or whosoever from doing any acts, exercise or election to the office of the Brikama Area Council.

While there has not been any official reaction from both Sonko and the UDP, supporters of the BAC chairman took to social media to celebrate the ruling which means now that Mr Sonko would serve his full mandate which runs until May 2022.

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