By Binta A Bah
A court in Banjul yesterday threw out a suit filed against the Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe and the Independent Electoral Commission to have all voter cards issued by the IEC in Banjul that were supported by attestation of the mayor removed from the register.
The court also ordered the plaintiffs, Gambia Participates, a civil society organization, Abdou Aziz Gaye, councilor of Box Bar ward in Banjul and Center for Research and Policy Development to pay D10,000 to Mayor Lowe and another D10,000 to the IEC.
The plaintiffs filed a sermon last Thursday asking for an order compelling the IEC to produce the list of all voter cards issued in Banjul that were supported by the attestation forms issued by Mayor Lowe. They also wanted the court to strike out the voter cards from the electoral roll.
In their particulars of claim, the plaintiffs said Mayor Lowe declared in the High Court that she had issued more than 2000 attestations to the people of Banjul. According to them, 2000 is a significant number of those registered in Banjul.
However, none of the plaintiffs was in court when the case was called. Their lawyer, Abdoulie Fatty was not in court either.
Their absence prompted Lawyer Sasum Sillah and Lawyer L.S Camara, representing the mayor, to ask the court to throw out the case and demanded costs from each defendant. Lawyer Sillah argued that it’s tried law that the party that filed the suit is the initiator of the suit and ought to be heard on the claims, and urged the court to strike it out.
Ruling on the matter, Principal Magistrate Omar Cham granted the defence lawyers’ request and strike out the case for lack of diligence. “The suit is hereby struck out with D10,000 against each of the defendants,” Magistrate Cham declared.
It could be recalled that the same plaintiffs in June filed an action at the High Court against the same defendants which held that the actions of the IEC in conferring the power to the office of the mayor to administer attestation forms generated by the IEC for the purpose of claiming voter cards in the city of Banjul are a contravention of section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act. It ruled that she lacks the legal power and authority to issue attestation. That case is yet to be determined.
A source close to the plaintiff’s legal team said they had intended to withdraw the case upon learning it was mistakenly filed.
“We thought we should concentrate on the appeal in the court rather than pursuing the matter in another court,” our source said.