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Lawyer LJ Darbo says Sabally stands no chance of overturning IEC decision

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Lamin J Darbo, the head of Dabanani Law Chambers, has said UDP’s aspirant for the Busumbala seat in the 9th April National Assembly election, Momodou Sabally, “appears not to have a snowball’s chance in hell in overturning the IEC decision” of rejecting his nomination.

Lawyer Darbo urged Mr Sabally “to deploy his immense talents in helping others this election season and to accept that on current facts, he cannot serve as a National Assembly Member until his appeal is allowed”.

In an opinion piece, “The Momodou Sabally National Assembly Nomination Saga: Sad but Lawful” (see Page 7) which has gone viral, the erudite lawyer stated: “…[T]he IEC specifically rejected Sabally’s application for nomination on the basis of section 90 (1) (e) of the Constitution that “no person is qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if he or she has been found by a report of a commission or committee of inquiry (the proceedings of which have been held and published in accordance with the relevant law) to be incompetent to hold public office by reason of having acquired assets unlawfully or defrauded the state or misused or abused his or her office, or wilfully acted in a manner pre-judicial to the interests of the state, and the findings have not been set aside on appeal or judicial review”.

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“It is common knowledge that Sabally lodged an appeal against the adverse mention, and the bans imposed on him, by the Janneh Commission, and the Government. Until they are “set aside on appeal or judicial review”, Section 90 (1) (e) of the Constitution continues to operate against him. A convicted prisoner remains a prisoner until his appeal is allowed. On the particular facts of Sabally’s case, his impediment remains pending the hearing and determination of his appeal.

“As to whether the IEC has the competence to interpret Section 90 (1) (e) of the Constitution at its level, I merely state it is performing a legally permitted intermediate gate-keeping function which can only be conclusively ratified by a competent court where its perspective is contested. However, the Janneh Commission Report and its accompanying White Paper are public documents available to the IEC and it can act upon them where deemed necessary.

“Albeit on contested understandings, it is far from clear that the IEC operated outside the law when it rejected Sabally’s application for nomination as UDP candidate for Busumbala. With the clarity of Section 90 (1) (e) of the Constitution, he appears not to have a snowball’s chance in hell in overturning the IEC decision.

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“Of course, the cases of the current chief of protocol, and the likes of Mambury Njie, were given lighter treatment by the government, and these were picked on by observers. What is clear is that they and others similarly situated cannot contest in National Assembly elections under the law.

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