By Bruce Asemota
Banjul High Court judge Amina Saho-Ceesay is expected to deliver judgment in the petition case filed by Dr Ismaila Ceesay and the Citizen’s Alliance against the Independent Electoral Commission.
The commission rejected Dr Ceesay’s nomination papers to contest the 4th December presidential election.
CE Mene, lawyer for Dr Ceesay and his party, submitted that the constitution confers jurisdiction on the high court to interpret all applications touching on fundamental rights. He further submitted that the rights of his clients were violated by IEC.
Mene argued that IEC was discriminatory in its selection and urged the court to grant his clients’ wishes.
But IEC lawyer Kebba Sanyang contended that the court does not have jurisdiction to grant those wishes.
He said IEC applied the same rules on all the candidates and parties during the nomination and that the nomination schedule was highly publicised well before the nomination period.
Lawyer Sanyang argued that Dr Ceesay and CA submitted a list of voters which was improperly administered in the Banjul Administrative Area.
He said the IEC found that names were entered in the list without surnames and the constituencies they were drawn.
He further said names on the list were also found in other nomination papers.
Sanyang said the applicants did not satisfy Section 42 (2) (a) of the Elections Act which states that nomination lists must have 5,000 voters with 200 from each administrative region.
He argued that the IEC exercises due diligence and complied with the law in conducting the nomination.
Sanyang argued that to allow the applicants another opportunity to correct the nomination papers would unnecessarily delay and defeat the whole nomination process.
Malick HB Jallow, another counsel for the IEC argued that the authority vested in the returning officer to determine the decision of the IEC cannot be questioned by any court of law and referred the court to the Supreme Court case of the State v Yankuba Touray.
In his reply, principal state counsel K Tah who represented the attorney general stated that the state submission was centred on the right of the applicants and the obligation of the IEC.
He argued that any challenge to the applicants’ fundamental rights should be made to the supreme court.
He further argued that if the court grants the prayers of the applicants, it will have serious consequences on the timeline and a negative effect on the election as the election will no longer take place on 4th December 2021.
The matter was adjourned to tomorrow for judgment.
Meanwhile, the petition filed by Ahmed Mai Fatty, presidential candidate for Gambia Moral Congress party, could not proceed last Friday, 19th November before Justice Saho-Ceesay.
Lawyer Sanyang of the IEC informed the court that the commission needed time to file additional processes to reply to the applicant, and therefore asked the court to grant a short adjournment to enable them to do so.
The matter was adjourned to today.