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Monday, May 23, 2022

Lawyer petitions IEC over Touma Njai’s dual citizenship allegations

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By Omar Bah

Acting under the instruction of one Haddy Jallow, a Banjul resident, Lawyer Lamin K Mboge of the Mari Bantang Chambers, has written to the Independent Electoral Commission requesting for it to respond to queries about the suspected dual citizenship of NAM Touma Njai of Banjul South, or risk going to court.

Fatoumatta Njai won the seat in the recent National Assembly elections. The defeated NPP candidate in the constituency Ousman Wadda too had alleged that Touma holds a dual citizenship and therefore not legible to contest.

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Last week, the IEC told The Standard it did not receive any complaint from any quarters during the nomination and campaign processes until after the election was done and the results declared.

However, Lawyer Mboge in his letter to the IEC wrote: “We act as solicitors for Haddy Jallow of Banjul and we received instructions to write this letter. It is our instruction that at the time of the nomination of Fatoumatta Njai as an Independent Candidate, her dual nationality was unknown to our clients and even rumours were rife that she holds the citizenship of England, making her a British national at the time of her nomination. If the allegation is true, then certainly she is disqualified under Section 90 (1) (a) of the Constitution which provides; No person is qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if he or she holds the citizenship or nationality of a country other than the Gambia.

“It is my instruction that our clients have lodged a formal verbal complaint to you and you replied that ‘you do not have any proof which is a fact’. But as a creation of statute, I believe that the IEC should have made at least an effort to inquire about the alleged dual nationality of  Fatoumatta Njai, once there is an allegation of her disqualification.  Having gone through her nomination, without qualification, she is further disqualified under Section 91 (1) of the same constitution which provides, ‘A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat subject to Sub section (2), if any circumstances arises which, if he or she were not a member, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election as Member or nomination as a Member’. This is in very clear terms as it simply means that even after being sworn in as a Member of the National Assembly, she can still be disqualified if she holds dual citizenship/nationality of another country. It is my instruction that it is your duty as the institution responsible for the conduct of free and fair election to make sure that only eligible and qualified candidates are nominated and if you fail/refuse or neglect to execute your duty, I have instructions to institute legal action against you and to seek a declaration that the nomination and election of Fatoumatta Njai is unconstitutional and should be declared null and void and to declare the seat vacant for by-election.”

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