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Local Gov’t ministry halts voter’s card attestations in Bakau

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By Alagie Manneh

UDP and NPP supporters in Bakau Wasulung Kunda are caught in a row over the issuing of attestations for people seeking Gambian voter’s cards.

Commotion broke out Tuesday morning after the NPP youth coordinator of the area, Alagie ‘P-Pie’ Tangikora, reportedly went to the alkalo’s secretary, Sarah Drammeh with some forms and demanded she issue attestations for more than five people whose names were on the form.

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When Ms Drammeh refused demanding the physical presence of the five, chaos broke out, witnesses said. Some UDP supporters present accused Mr Tangikora of attempting to get foreigners from Casamance and elsewhere  registered.

The matter was later reported to Bakau Police Station and according to the reports, the station officers told the complainants they had no jurisdiction to probe the issue.

Upon hearing of the matter, the Ministry of Local Government sent its director of governance to investigate and resolve the contention.

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Apparently the effort failed and on Wednesday, the ministry told The Standard that it has temporarily stopped the issuing of attestations in the area, leaving many natives in limbo.

Reacting to the allegations that he wanted to register non-Gambians, Mr Tangikora said that was “unfounded”.

He said when he went to the alkalo’s office for attestations, to his surprise, he found “some sort of a UDP camp” there.

“I found many of them there. But I told Sarah [Drammeh], a small girl who was issuing attestations on behalf of the alkalo, that I needed the attestations for myself and five young people of the community and I even provided proof. I told Sarah that what they were doing there was wrong. As a child she cannot be overseeing the office of the alkalo and affixing stamps on documents. Can you imagine? Some people even complained that she rejected them because they are NPP and have complained to me,” he said.

Mr Tangikora said he only went there to counsel them but not to register any foreigner.

“When I was leaving, that small girl [Sarah] came out and attacked me, roughed me up. And then the UDP supporters also attacked me,” he claimed.

Mr Tangikora said he is not “a sell-out” who will “mortgage” his country.

Responding, Ms Drammeh said contrary to what Mr Tangikora and others in the community peddled, she is in fact aged 25, and a final year student of the UTG.

She said Mr Tangikora and his cohorts wanted to bring the community into disrepute, and denied being a closet UDP supporter.

The UDP lady councillor for the ward, Sinkala Jatta, who reported the matter to police, told The Standard: “We have had to resort to the IEC. I called Mayor Bensouda and he contacted our party leader. When I returned from the IEC, the alkalo’s wife called me and said the director of governance from the ministry was waiting for me. When I arrived, the man said they are going to stop the issuing of attestations. He said the order came from the top.”

Giving reasons for the cessation of attestations, the local government ministry said the alkalo, Musa Sidibeh, left “a minor in charge” of attestations, arguing that is unlawful.

“The minor that he left in charge is not the alkalo. It is the appointed alkalo who should issue attestations,” local government minister Musa Drammeh told The Standard. “The alkalo never told me he was traveling,” he added.

The Standard has learnt that the alkalo may not be returning anytime soon, and when asked what would become the fate of those who would need attestations to acquire voter’s card, the minister tersely replied: “We are dealing with the law.”

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