By Omar Bah
The Chairman of the Brikama Area Council has informed the Independent Electoral Commission that the letter sent to them by his deputy Ismaila Jallow is not authentic and should not be taken seriously.
Deputy Chairman Jallow had written to the IEC informing them of the expulsion of Sheriffo Sonko and two Councilors from the UDP, and the consequent vacancy of their elective seats relying on the Local Government Act.
However, in his own letter to Election House, the embattled chairman Sonko alleged that his deputy’s letter did not bear the official letterhead of BAC.
“I wish to attest that the letter used in the above correspondence is not the official letterhead of the office of the Chairman and thus not authentic. I also wish to sincerely state that the author acted unilaterally without seeking the mandate or the consent of the Council (the decision making organ of the institution) prior to sending such correspondence,” Sonko said in a letter dated 3rd July, 2020. He also attached a list of signatures of councilors he said are against unlawful attempts by the UDP to declare his seat vacant.
When contacted for comments, the IEC Chairman Alieu Momarr Njai confirmed that his office has received Ismaila Jallow’s letter, notifying the commission of Sheriffo Sonko’s dismissal from the UDP but he could not tell whether Sonko’s counter letter has reached his desk.
Asked what will be IEC’s next action, Njai replied: “I will look into it on Monday and get back to you”.
The UDP spokesman, Almamy Fanding Taal said the party has used all democratic and legal means to respond to the wishes and demands of its rank and file in West Coast who wanted chairman Sonko expelled for various reasons. “The UDP has also availed Mr Sonko an opportunity and time to give reasons why he should not be expelled. Now the rightful and competent authorities within the party have taken the decision to expel him. It is now left to the relevant authorities to act on the law. If they fail to do that the UDP will resort to the law to get them to act as provided by the Local Government Act,” Mr Taal told Kerr Fatou Saturday.
The Standard sought the opinion of a lawyer on the matter who said while he may not know whether the deputy chairman is the right authority to inform the IEC, his letter can only be considered forged if it is not written or signed by the deputy chairman himself but by someone else pretending to be him, which is not the case in this matter. ”I think the IEC must consult their legal team to advise them on this matter,” he said.
Sheriffo Sonko was a key figure in the UDP but fell out of favour with the rank and file of the yellow brigade after they accused him of shifting his allegiance to the newly-formed National People’s Party and its leader President Barrow who himself was a darling now turned untouchable for the country’s biggest party.
Towards the end of March, UDP expelled Mr Sonko and two other councillors but rescinded the decision after realising the due process was not followed.
The party went back to the drawing board and write back to Sonko on 11June to inform him to advance explanations if any, why he should not be expelled from the party.
But instead of responding to the demands of the party executive, Sonko urged the entire executive of the UDP that took the decision on 27 March to expel him from the party, to resign from their positions saying they acted wrongly against him and his cohorts.