If God had asked me: “Dembo, which event in history would you have wanted to be part of?”,
i would take a mental flight to the year 1235 on the laterite plains of Manding Kangkaba.
Article 3: The five clans of marabouts are our teachers and our educators in Islam. Everyone has to hold them in respect and consideration.
They would not stop there. The right to life was guaranteed as enshrined in Article 5 of the Constitution as follows:
Article 5: Everybody has a right to life and to the preservation of physical integrity. Accordingly, any attempt to deprive one’s fellow being of life is punished with death.
Adequate legal instruments must be recommended in the TRRC’s final report to ensure that the right to life and the preservation of physical integrity are non-negotiable and cannot be subjected to even a referendum. The delegates in 1235 would even further legislate against dismembering of the dead as in Article 41:
Article 41: You can kill the enemy, but not humiliate him.
Certainly, we have all heard of the dismembering of victims during some of the TRRC sessions and this is why I believe that the Manding Constitution was light years ahead of its time.
The people would not be satisfied and would continue to enact more laws protecting women. The right to divorce, domestic violence and affirmative action to protect women and ensure their participation in all affairs of their communities as enshrined in Articles 11, 14, 15, 16 and 30.
Article 11: When your wife or your child runs away, stop running after them in the neighbour’s house.
This article clearly spoke to us on April 10 and 11 when students were shot dead most of whom from behind. The reason why Manding enacted Article 11 is that a person who is running away from you is no longer a threat to you and you must not pursue him. This provision today is, in more refined form has been used to prosecute law enforcement officers around the world. Excessive force legislation was necessary to check the likely extreme tendencies of dictators like Sumanguru Kanteh and we did not have a shortage of these trigger-happy forces that gunned down and cut short the lives of our young and bright children unto whom we would have bequeathed the affairs of the state.
Article 14: Never offend women, our mothers.
Article 15: Never beat a married woman before her husband has tried to correct the problem.
Article 16: Women, apart from their everyday occupations, should be associated with all our managements.
Article 30: In Mande, divorce is tolerated for one of the following reasons: the impotence of the husband, the madness of one of the spouses, the husband’s incapability of assuming the obligations due to the marriage. The divorce should occur out of the village.
Again they would not stop there. They knew the importance of justice but also the role reconciliation can play in bringing about good neighbourliness. Two articles standout to me. In Article 7, they people realised that after the war, and that because of the atrocities committed by Sumanguru and his agents, retribution was very likely and so they cleverly introduced Article 7, which borders on a joking relationship between families and clans and blood pacts of supporting one another. These eased tensions and improved reconciliation efforts.
Furthermore, in order to cement this effort at reconciliation, Statute of Limitation clause was introduced that after 40 years, the people must not pursue most crimes. Certainly this was a clever way of garnering acceptance to maintain peace. Article 17 therefore became necessary.
Article 17: Lies that have lived for 40 years should be considered like truths.
Just as Manding has struggled with reconciliation and justice, the TRRC must also equally strike a balance between the two and the people look forward to their report.
Article 7: The sanankunya (joking relationship) and the tanamannyonya (blood pact) have been established among the Mandinka. Consequently, any contention that occurs among these groups should not degenerate the respect for one another being the rule. Between brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, between grandparents and grandchildren, tolerance should be the principle.
They would perfect the art of diplomacy by guaranteeing the safety of diplomats and at the same time opening embassies outside of the empire.
Up until today, they produced the wealthiest man in human history. Mansa Musa was worth US$400 billion in today’s value. No one has come close to even US$300 billion, not even Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.
And of course, promoted art and music enjoyed to this day by creating a class of historians called the Jali. Sundiata understood the importance of history and during his time, the Jali did not have to worry about anything. In fact all that Sundiata inherited from his father were the Jali and the metal and wood workers. The TRRC must endeavour that not only were they charged with the task of collating an unbiased record of the past 22 years, but that will be of no use if they fail to preserve and keep the records alive as Manding did through the art of music. Perhaps, this is an opportunity to team up with the National Archives (written Records) and the National Museum for the objects and instruments that they may have collected as evidence to find ways of preserving them. The National Records Services Act has well laid out instruments in the management, custody and destruction of public records. The TRRC enjoys better funding regime than the National Archives and I believe it will be a win-win situation if the two institutions collaborate and by a secondary achievement, we can also save our written records of years gone by. We should not try to reinvent the wheel. Collaboration is called for given the limited resources as the National Archives has a new site and construction I am told is ongoing but at a slow pace.
And so my response to God would be to put me in a time machine and allow me to travel back in time and live in the year 1235 and sit either as a delegate to the KuruKan Fuga, and perhaps lobby to include the Fatty clan as part of the Marabout Clan of Manding or at a bare minimum, sit among the onlookers as the delegates try to carve out a way for the broader interest of humanity. I would love to shake hands with Sundiata Conateh, Kamanjang Camara, Farang Tunkara and Fakoli Dumbuya and all the great warriors who worked the trenches of Kirina, Daka Jalang, Kunkung Baa and the many theatres of war that ultimately led to victory. How apt that we just celebrated Memorial Day a few days ago.
How I wished that I could dance to the tune of the war veteran pacing back and forth singing:
Ateh julu baa dong nah (He will not dance the warrior’s dance)
Satewo sadaa tay julu baa dong na ( the good-for-noting son of the village or an efulefu as the Igbo would say, will not dance the warrior dance).
And so it is my fervent belief that in the recommendations by the TRRC, they will not forget a category of people mentioned briefly in lead counsel’s closing remarks bordering on summary dismissals of civil servants who were never accorded the opportunity to be heard, or hear from their accused persons. Many of these officers were dismissed with no entitlement to a pension. That is a travesty of justice for many reasons:
1. A pension is a right no matter the way or why you left office. People who have served must earn a pension in old age and by legislating that dismissed officers cannot earn a pension, these officials have been condemned twice for the same crime they may have committed if any. Not only can they not run for office but will also not qualify for a pension. I want to believe that we already have a law in place against that.
The 22 years did just that to further punish those considered as threats or those upright officials who refuse to break their oaths of office. The TRRC must recommend that the Pensions Act be revised and that every civil servant has a right to a pension even if dismissed. This clause has been used severally and the ghost of Mr Samateh, a one-time employee of the Ministry of Health kept tormenting me over the years. As a young lad at the Personnel Management Office, his story was probably the first to come under summary dismissals. Mr Samateh at the time served almost 33 years and was just about to retire when he was dismissed without an opportunity to defend himself. He lost his pension at a time when he was most vulnerable. He died soon after. I remember discussing his case with colleagues and how unfair it was. He could have just been terminated in which case he would get some severance pay but to treat a man who dedicated all his life to public service to such a harsh and humiliating manner was beyond comprehension. He was not alone. The NIA may have inflicted physical torture, but the PSC inflicted emotional torture.
2. Every citizen has a right to enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a competent court of law or in some formal hearing where he has an opportunity to represent himself or be represented. There are hundreds of civil servants who were dismissed without being given a cause and sadly, the Public Service Commission did not stand up and protect the rights of employees. They certainly looked the other way and allowed the General Orders, Public Service Commission Regulations, Pensions Act and the Public Service Act be adulterated. It is unfortunate that the TRRC did not bring into the spotlight as it did with the National Intelligence Agency, the operations of the Public Service Commission and the role it played in compromising standards. They rubber stamped every dismissal instruction and it was an open secret that whenever Pa Fatty, a messenger at State House entered The Quadrangle, all eyes were on his every move and if he passed your building, you breathe a sigh of relief that you survived that episode of dismissal. Even Jammeh jokingly talked about Pa Fatty.
Other than Ms Bertha Mboge, I cannot recall any instance in which the PSC refused an order to dismiss a public officer. Why and how the PSC officially sought audience with Jammeh to reverse his decision to dismiss her still baffles me. I guess some birds cannot be caged because their feathers are just too bright.
In 2017, an attempt was made to reinstate some officers but the scheme needs further scrutiny. Some who were reinstated were lucky to be paid their lost wages while others were not accorded the same benefit. How and why the scheme was managed should be put under the microscope because what is good for the goose is good for the gander and justice must be accorded to every Kumba, Nyonkoling and Sawalo irrespective of their stations in life, family connections or looks.
In matters of justice, the state cannot hide behind costs to dilute the reconciliation process. As far as I know, the state has not filed for bankruptcy; we are far from being a failed state and because somewhere in our Constitution I read that every person “shall be presumed innocent until he or she is proved or has pleaded guilty” then justice must be served. If I lived in North Korea, I would not mind because they have not committed themselves to the rule of law and rights of citizens.
And to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the citizens have sufficiently funded the state and it should not send back to the people a cheque marked with the words “insufficient funds”. Cost cannot be used to dilute or show indifference to the cause of a people who suffered in the hands of the very institution set up to protect them.
Many of these people are already dead and because dead people cannot file petitions to the TRRC, the TRRC must include in their recommendations on behalf of all of the aggrieved public officials who were summarily dismissed without cause and be given an opportunity to be heard; recommend an amendment of the Pensions Act to allow dismissed officials earn a pension and by extension the Social Security scheme which I am told has similar provisions. One cannot be punished twice for the same issue. Losing a job is one thing or a punishment but being denied a pension in addition, is cruel and unjust. These Acts must be amended.
Dead men cannot file petitions but these people were husbands, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of many in our society and we must bend the morale arc of justice towards them and only then will we as a society, when gathered before the God of history can, with full confidence, say that we did our best in the service of humanity and we left the world better than we inherited it.
And so when Sundiata learned to walk for the first time, the people sang:
Biwo, bika dilay (Today is a joyous day)
Madaa alaa maa mang bi nyoghong daa (God, has not created a day like today).
And so a grateful nation is singing as the TRRC begins to walk in the direction of securing justice for all and that must include the cases of dismissed public officials without cause.
By Lamin Cham
Fatou Jaw Manneh, a prominent member of the Gambia diaspora community, also a renowned journalist and activist has been appointed by President Barrow as honorary adviser on strategic communication, development and emerging social and environmental issues.
According to government official sources as part of her pro-bono duties, Ms Jaw Manneh will support the government in its ongoing strategic communication initiatives by engaging in open, consultative and strong working relationships with the Office of the President, Ministry of Communication and other partners in the government as well as contribute to efforts aimed at enhancing closer relationships between the government and the Gambian diaspora.
Ms Jaw Manneh will also interface with community leaders, organisations and persons of interest and advice on critical community, social, environment and development matters with a view to preventing, managing and resolving social issues.
Ms Jaw Manneh is a graduate of Strayer University, in Washington DC with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management.
Ms Jaw Manneh has over 20 years of media and journalistic experience. She was a 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum Speaker, Oxfam/Novib 2007 Courageous Journalism Awardee and Hellmann/Hammat 2009.
Overall, Ms Jaw Manneh has strong passion for media, environment, women and children’s affairs, community and diaspora matters.
Meanwhile, the president has also appointed retired banker Mr Oremi Joiner as chairperson of the board of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, while Mr Bai Ibrahim Cham, director general of Gamworks, was appointed as chairperson of the National Roads Authority – NRA.
By Tabora Bojang
Women who gathered for a training on comprehensive health education have called for the introduction of a “flexible abortion law” in The Gambia, particularly for women subjected to rape or incest.
The criminal code prohibits abortion but the Women’s Act 2010 allows it under two circumstances: When the life of the pregnant mother is under threat and or when the unborn child might be born with multiple deformities.
Fatou Cham, a senior nursing officer at the Ministry of Health said although abortion is illegal in the country, the law should be relaxed for certain groups of people.
“I think we should look into the policy so that there could be exceptions on certain groups of people. For instance, victims of rape who might be subjected to unwanted pregnancies and want to have an abortion should be allowed to,” she urged.
According to Ms Cham, research has shown that about half of all unwanted pregnancies end up with abortion which she added is mainly done in clandestine and unsafe conditions and can sometimes lead to maternal mortality or morbidity.
Ms Cham made these remarks during a presentation on unwanted pregnancy and contraceptive methods in adolescent health, at a day long workshop organised by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education targeting journalists.
The event was organised to update members of the media on the ministry’s Comprehensive Health Education project designed for introduction into the national school curriculum.
A principal investigator at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Phebian Ina Grant- Sagnia told The Standard on the side-lines of the event: “The policy only mentioned that abortion is illegal but it did not specify. There is what we called medical abortion, criminal abortion, spontaneous abortion, unspontaneous abortion, voluntary abortion and involuntary abortion. If someone is pregnant and the person is scanned indicating that if the baby comes out it would create problems for the mother and the society then with consent it can be terminated to save the woman’s life. If someone is raped and it has been verified then it [pregnancy] can be terminated. Not only rape but incest [intimate by blood relatives] when accessed forensically then abortion can be held.”
The new Comprehensive Health Education (CHE), will replace the long-existing Population and Family Life Education POP/FLE subject, which has been scrapped mainly due to cultural and religious considerations.
Sex education was the most heated subject which fanned a flame of controversy in the public schools for years before it was thwarted about a decade ago.
According to officials, the goal of the new Comprehensive Health Education is to avail students the chance to be sexually healthy adults, and provide them with accurate information about human sexuality, risk reduction strategies, contraception, prevention of unwanted pregnancies and venereal diseases among others.
By Omar Bah
Lamin Keita, a Gambian PhD fellow at the Northwestern University in the US, has urged the government to convene a national dialogue of political parties to address the prevailing tensed political situation in the country ahead of the 4 December election.
“The initial reaction to the voter registration is a referendum that depicts that Gambians went to the registration centres with widespread anger. This is why I want to urge the government to make it a responsibility to call a national dialogue with political opponents,” Keita told The Standard.
He said The Gambia is only one of several West African nations where the political future looks “remarkably muddled”.
“Two weeks into pivotal voter registration, reactions from the public show widespread anger is scrambling politics in The Gambia. It is no secret that the Barrow-led government has theoretically devastated the country.”
Mr Keita argued that “a confirmation of just how catastrophic the Barrow government has been for The Gambia helps explain the similarly disastrous political scenario voters face just days into a dispiriting voter registration for December presidential election”.
He accused the Barrow administration of throwing Gambian politics into disarray.
“Creating a dangerously unpredictable future for a country that had until recently stood on the edge of genuine democratic progress but now faces the very real possibility that such government is bringing less democratic, less economic growth, more social and political turmoil. The inglorious or dishonorable departure of Jammeh has locked the popular discontent of Gambians in a pressure cooker, where anger only increased because the new government lacks the tenacity to make any formidable changes.
As a result, all of the concerns over incompetent government, stark inequality, social fragmentation, and persistent poverty worsened. Barrow’s foot-dragging on the numerous commissions of inquiry’s findings; such as the Janneh and Faraba commissions, and his silence over the criminal activities of drug and armed cartels in the country, ring loud into ears of voters,” Keita asserted.
“The country”, he went on, “became a hotspot for massive gun importations coupled with increasing mysterious murders and gas stations embedded in public spaces a disaster in the making. Now, even as the seeming democracy continues, political life resumes vengeance, and all that anger is ready to burst out because the reason for this widespread anger is profoundly found in President Barrow’s failure to honour his promises”.
He said the president’s failure to support a new constitution and effect reforms and refusal to step down after three years have created avoidable uncertainties.
“This augurs change and profound uncertainty and a sign of intense anti-establishment and frustration of the majority. Under President Barrow’s rule, The Gambia suffered a similarly hellish reality, driven by a combination of poverty, incompetence, corruption, and poor governance. The economy contracted sharply, with our GDP decreasing more than almost 40 percent between 2016 and 2021. One thing that is certain now is that people have very strong views across The Gambia and are determined to be heard. Political leaders have been put on notice,” he said.
By Omar Bah
The spokesperson of the United Democratic Party has told the TRRC not to exonerate the APRC party as an enabler of Jammeh in its final recommendations.
The truth commission completed its public hearings two weeks ago and currently preparing its final report which will contain its findings and recommendations. That report will be submitted to the president in July.
The victims of Jammeh have long demanded for the proscription of the APRC party which is seen as an enabler of Jammeh.
Speaking in a Standard exclusive, Almamy Taal asserted: “A dictatorship cannot dare proceed without associates and enablers and my first point of concern about the TRRC process is that it seems to focus more on the crimes and the misgovernance that was going on and everything seems to lead back to the dictator. But there were the military Junglers and an administrative state that enabled dictatorship to strive.
“What were the factors and the institutions that enabled Jammeh to stay in power and apparently, win election after election for 22 years? For me, the TRRC should have interrogated what was the responsibility of the political party that Jammeh has created to aide and abet the dictatorship. Even during the impasse, the same party had a majority in parliament and they were doing things legally and constitutionally to make sure that Jammeh doesn’t go anywhere. These are all issues that I believe the TRRC should have interrogated sufficiently.”
However, he said he would not recommend banning the party.
“What I want is for the TRRC to make sure that the APRC is not absolved of responsibility as a political operative that provided Jammeh the political platform to grant him legitimacy to even contest elections.”
Taal said the APRC leaders continue to deny the atrocities of Jammeh and are now floating the idea of coalition talks to form the next government.
“That is an insult to the victims and I think the TRRC should address these things. If they cannot agree with people they should not be seen provoking people. If the TRRC is to achieve anything tangible, this kind of leadership should not have the opportunity to lead this country again. It is up to Gambians to not entertain this nonsense coming from the leadership of the APRC again.”
He said the UDP is worried that even before the TRRC concluded its recommendations “APRC executive members are going to State House to try to negotiate the return of Jammeh”.
The former high court judge said the TRRC’s reparations framework should be based on some of the harrowing and sensitive testimonies to determine what will be a fair compensation for victims.
“We are expecting that not only are the victims going to be properly compensated but the institutions or political parties like the UDP which was prosecuted are given some kind of reparation and cleansing of its records especially those individuals who have been incarcerated and tortured as a result of that,” he said.
Abdoulie Tambedou, the managing direction of Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation (SSHFC), said among the challenges faced by the corporation is the impact of the Covid-19 that led to heavy withdrawals of savings due to job losses.He said: “The rigidity of the SSHFC Act and regulations led to big delay in members’ ability to be satisfactorily served until the regulations were amended with provisions such as reduced cooling off periods”.
SSHFC boss was speaking on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of an election that is held every three years to Federated Pensions Scheme (DPS),? at a forum held at a local hotel in Bakau.
The ceremony witnessed the election of a new federated pension scheme representative at the Board of the Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation.
During the process, Dr. Seedy Drammeh of GRA, Abubakar Darbo of GRTS and Tamsir Sallah of GPA contested for the post. However, GRTS’ Abubakar Darbo was elected as the new federated pension scheme representative on the SSHFC Board for next three years.
According to Tambedou, the high level of staff numbers continue to be a burden on the corporation, saying they are managing through natural attrition and transfers and re-skilling in other departments within the corporation. The relatively low salary level of the corporation compared to other sister State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) is also “a challenge which we hope to review through a proper study.”
Tambedou said the election of the federated pension scheme representative is a requirement of clause 5(1)(h) and 7(1) of the SSHFC Act 2015.
He thanked the outgoing FPS representative Tamsir Sallah, who has been a board member since May 2018.
In his report, Mr. Sallah, the outgoing federated pension scheme representative, said during his three year term, at least 11 board meetings were held excluding the extra ordinary meeting held due to exigencies.
He thanked the fund members for the confidence reposed in him to serve as FPS representative in the board for the past three years.
For his part, the newly elected federated pension scheme representative, Abubacarr Darboe, returned gratitude to the federated pension scheme teams for the trust and confidence they have in him in electing him to the position and assured them that he would live up to expectations and work hand-in-glove with the Board.
By Aisha Tamba
Two Gambians, accused of intoxicating a young lady before raping her, have appeared yesterday at the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
According to police investigators, Mustapha Corr and Demba Jobe conspired in January in the vicinities of Kololi and “raped, severally,” the 22-year-old lady. Police said the two lured the young lady by intoxicating her with a liquor, leaving her “mentally incapacitated”. They then raped her, the court heard.
A police investigator, one Gassama, told the court the two sexually violated the lady through the vagina and the anus, leading to loss of blood.
He told the presiding principal magistrate, Isatou Janneh Njie that the rape has been confirmed by a doctor at the Serekunda [General] hospital.
He said investigators visited the crime scene and found blood stains on door ways and on the victim’s shoes.
Responding to the claims, one of the accused Demba Jobe said the blood stains purportedly discovered by prosecutors might be from bedbugs on his bed. “My room has a lot of bedbugs,” he testified.
Prosecuting sub-inspector Jallow then tendered a pair of shoes as exhibit.
He then urged the principal magistrate to adjourn the case to enable the prosecution to bring forth more witnesses.
The matter was adjourned to 23 June.
By Omar Bah
The Gambia police have warned political party supporters and agents to desist from ‘unlawfully’ interfering in the ongoing voter registration exercise for the December presidential polls.
“It has come to the attention of the office of the Inspector General of Police that certain individuals, political party agents, and militants are interfering with the voter registration process, especially on citizenship matters. This practice is unlawful. Consequently, party agents and militants are urged to desist from such practices with immediate effect. Party agents designated and recognised by the IEC to observe the registration process for accountability purposes are hereby advised to do so in accordance with the laws governing the process,” the police said.
Police said concerns, queries and observations should be channeled through respective party heads for redress with the appropriate institutions.
“They must not be seen in any way interfering or attempting to interfere with individuals registering or the registration process, as they have no such mandate.
“Similarly, political party leaders are urged to sensitise and encourage their militants to observe law and order at all times especially during the voter registration process, to enable them to operate within the parameters of the law for a peaceful and violence-free electoral process.
The public, party agents and militants found wanting of violations will be dealt with in accordance with the laws. The cooperation and understanding of the public is highly solicited,” the statement read.
The dispatch added that the laws of the country regarding citizenship are clear. “Therefore, individuals not mandated by law have no authority to question people’s citizenship or eligibility for voter registration. Equally, the electoral laws of The Gambia clearly outline the criteria for registration for voters cards and as well stipulated the body responsible for overseeing the electoral process. In view of the above, any individual who is not mandated by the laws or the electoral body must not interfere with the process.”
By Tabora Bojang
Central Baddibu lawmaker, Sulayman Saho has accused Finance Minister Mambury Njie of misleading the National Assembly when he gave a “false impression” during scrutiny of a 2021 budget regarding the registration of Gambians in the diaspora.
The finance minister told lawmakers in April that the participation of the Gambian diaspora in the upcoming presidential election will require a supplementary appropriation because “diaspora voting is not budgeted in the 2021 estimates”.
He also disclosed at the time that government had already disbursed over D120 million to the IEC to cover the election operations or costs.
But speaking to The Standard yesterday, the Baddibu NAM said the minister’s recent disclosure that there is no money to fund diaspora voting contradicted a previous statement to lawmakers.
He said the minister told them that part of the reasons why the budget estimates were high was because they were going to include the Diaspora in the electoral process beginning with the December election.
“It is not accurate for anybody to blame NAMs over the non-registration of Gambians abroad. When Mambury Njie [Finance Minister] appeared before us to table the 2021 budget, we raised the question as to why the IEC’s budget allocation was very high and he clearly informed us on record that they were going to embark on diaspora registration.
“So why is he coming again saying they don’t have any funds? That is what doubts me. He was trying to mislead the parliament and the Gambian public,” Mr Saho said.
Asked what other possible options the National Assembly could adopt to ensure the participation of the Diaspora in elections, Mr Saho he said it is too little too late for anything meaningful to be done.
“I don’t see any chance for Diaspora registration. It is history. The government has killed it so it has nothing to do with the parliament and we will not force them to table any supplementary bill. As far as I am concerned, it is history. It is impossible to get them registered. It’s too late,” the UDP lawmaker said.
By Mafugi Ceesay
Outspoken lawyer Ibrahim Jallow has threatened to sue the Gambia government and the IEC for using attestation forms to “grant citizenship to non-Gambians”.
Speculation regarding foreign interference has been ubiquitous since the opening of the country’s electoral cycle for the December polls.
Speaking in a Standard exclusive yesterday at his Chambers along Kairaba Avenue, Mr Jallow said there is no clause in the constitution mandating a village head or alkalo to issue citizenship to any person, “whosoever”, through a declaration of an attestation form prepared by the IEC.
He stressed that the process of giving voter’s card to people whose citizenship status cannot be confirmed by any other means is not only a “nagging assault” on our democratic process and extant laws of The Gambia, but also equivalent to unlawfully granting citizenship to people through a system that appeared to be flawed.
He said the participation of even a single non-Gambian can render a whole electoral process null and void.
“This has been done in other Commonwealth countries and The Gambia will not be an exception,” Lawyer Jallow warned.
He explained that a citizenship obtained through a voter registration process is not envisaged in the 1997 constitution.
“Any person, whosoever, unlawfully votes in any election in The Gambia, and not being a constitutional citizen in accordance with the 1997 constitution of The Gambia, should be prosecuted under the relevant laws of The Gambia. For any election to be fair, the participants [voters] in that election process should be legally eligible to vote in the election in the manner prescribed by law, anything done contrary is unlawful, illegal and therefore null and void,” the lawyer said.
Speaking further, he said the country must come to the “emphatic conclusion” that issuing voter cards to non-citizens of The Gambia for the purposes of voting in an election is a gross violation of the constitution and other laws of The Gambia.
“…And it is capable of making the whole election legal framework questionable. The Gambian people were informed and promised that henceforth, all electoral processes should be lawful and legal including the voter registration process. Therefore, this is a serious matter that needs to be addressed, otherwise, any election is challengeable and will be challenged in a competent court of law, at the right time.”
Lawyer Jallow reiterated that granting voter cards to people who otherwise are not eligible to vote in Gambian elections could be dangerous to national security.
He called it “a plot to disenfranchise the Gambian people” and added that “it is worrisome that this issue is not thought of and or is completely ignored by our lawmakers and relevant government institutions, and non-governmental organisations and CSOs. I [as Gambian citizen and legal practitioner] also demand for an immediate setting up of a process to cancel all voter cards issued through attestation forms by the IEC and the sanctioning and prosecution of all such individuals who illegally and unlawfully obtained voter registration in The Gambia”