SUPREME COURT hears UDP’s petition on Kuntaur chairmanship

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By: Ibrahim Sanneh

The Supreme Court of The Gambia presided over by a panel of five judges headed by the Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow, Justice Gibou S. Janneh, Justice Raymond Sock, Justice Cherno S.Jallow and Justice Yassin Mam Sey yesterday presided over the hearing of the Election Petition matter filed by UDP in the matter of Section 97 of the Election Act, 1996 in the election for the chairmanship of Kuntaur Area Council in the Central River Region held on the 12th May, 2018.

The UDP candidate; Aussainou Jobarteh of Kayai village in the Central River Region, North District of the Gambia is praying the apex court to declare him the duly elected candidate and be returned as the Kuntaur chairman in the Kuntaur Area Council.

Aussainou Jobarteh filed a petition pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and the Election Decree against Saihou Jawara, Mustapha F.M. Jobe, The IEC returning officer and the attorney general.

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The petition disclosed that Aussainou Jobarteh voted in the 12th of May, 2018, chairmanship election and therefore claimed to have right to be returned or elected at the chairmanship election held for the Kuntaur Area Council.

The petition further disclosed that during the collation, the returning officer and/or the persons assisting him in collation of the votes mistakenly awarded to the 1st respondent; Saihou Jawara 67 votes polled by the petitioner and awarded 56 votes polled by the 1st respondent; Saihou Jawara to the petitioner (Aussainou Jobarteh) in the Jumballa 60708-2 Polling Station in Kaur Ward, Lower Salloum election district constituency.

The petition stated that the returning officer and/or person assisting him in the collation of the votes mistakenly awarded to the 2nd respondent 36 votes polled by the petitioner; Aussainou Jabarteh and awarded the petitioner 7 votes polled by the 2nd respondent in Kass Wollof 60905-2 polling station in Nyangabantang Ward in the Niani Election District/ Constituency.

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The petition claims that the petitioner and the UDP party contracted AA and Co Chartered Certified Accountants to conduct a proper addition (collation) of the votes polled by each of the candidates for each of the polling stations and the results showed that the petitioner polled 6,340 votes, the 1st respondent; Saihou Jawara polled 6,297 and making the petitioner leading by 43 votes.

The petition therefore urged the Supreme Court of The Gambia to declare that Aussainou Jobarteh, the petitioner was duly elected who ought to have been returned as the chairman of Kuntaur Area Council.

During the court’s sitting yesterday, the court asked counsels for the petitioner, Lamin Darboe and Combeh Gaye to address the court on jurisdiction.

Lawyer Darboe submitted that the issue of jurisdiction goes to the root of the matter, adding that the inherent powers of the Supreme Court is to give guidance to the jurisdiction.

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He cited certain constitutional provisions where a single judge of the Supreme Court can hear election petition to buttress his submission and craved the court’s indulgence to grant him time to come proper on the issue of jurisdiction before the court.

Lawyer Binga D. from the Attorney General’s Chambers expressed appreciation to the court on the issue of jurisdiction raised.

Hearing continues on Wednesday, 11th of July, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. #Bigthanks to lawyer lamin Darboe

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