By Bruce Asemota
Justice Basirou V.P. Mahoney yesterday ruled that the actions of the Mayor of Banjul in issuing attestations to residents in the IEC’s general voter registration are in contravention of section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act.
Justice Mahoney further declared that the actions of the Independent Electoral Commission in conferring the power to the office of the Mayor of Banjul to administer attestation forms generated by the IEC for the purpose of claiming voter cards in the City of Banjul contravenes section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act.
The judge further disclosed that the Elections Act provides that documents for registration of voter cards are birth certificates, national ID cards, Gambian passport, documents certified by the village alkalolu or district chiefs.
He further disclosed that the list of documents to be presented for registration was determined by the lawmakers.
He revealed that people born in Banjul are required to register their births and birth certificates are issued.
He said whether the Mayor of Banjul is the equivalent person to perform the duty of the chiefs or alkalolu in issuing attestations would have been done by the lawmakers during the several amendments that have been done on section 12 (2) of the Elections Act.
Justice Mahoney said in the interpretation of section 12 (2) (e) of the Elections Act, there is nothing to warrant the Mayor of Banjul to issue certifications of birth or attestations to residents of Banjul.
He revealed that the IEC’s authorization of the Mayor of Banjul to issue attestations was not done in accordance with the law but was done in excess of the powers conferred on it.
Justice Mahoney asserted that public bodies are required to act within the law but not outside the law, noting that there is no carte blanche or free hand for public bodies and authorities to perform their functions.
But he made it clear that the consequence of cancelling the voter cards issued would offend section 30 of the Elections Act as it would directly affect the entries of the persons on the register, noting therefore that only a revising court established in accordance with section 24 of the Elections Act can deal with the individual entries in the register of voters.
Justice Mahoney accordingly awarded the sum of D20.000 as cost to the appellants, Gambia Participates, Center for Research and Policy Development who took the matter to court.