Constitutional Case Heard

Monday, January 7, 2008

The constitutional case filed by the UDP, NRP and Momodou K. Sanneh as plaintiffs, against the Attorney General and the Independent Electoral Commission as defendants, continued Thursday at the Supreme Court.
The case is being presided over by Chief Justice Abdou Kareem Savage.

In her submission the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice, Marie Saine-Firdaus, stated that the preliminary objection raised by the 1st defendant is that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter. She added that the suit is not properly constituted and is incompetent.

She adduced that the fact that the suit was filed in the first place was an abuse of the court process.
She added that the court is invited to invoke jurisdiction under section 127 of the Constitution on the purported claim that the plaintiffs seek- whether the National Assembly acted in excess of its powers.

Secy Saine-Firdaus further submitted that the plaintiff was trying to get a result not legally available, noting that it could not be given by the court for the reasons mentioned above. She argued that the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs, UDP and NRP, lack capacity to institute the suit as they are legally still members of an existing political party called NADD.

She said only Ousainou Darboe and Hamat Bah resigned individually as members of NADD, inferring that therefore the plaintiffs are pursuing the cause of their interests without the approval of the party body of NADD.

On the 3rd plaintiff, she submitted that he is a member of the National Assembly who voted against the amendment. She explained that after a majority vote at the National Assembly in favour of the bill, the 3rd plaintiff decided that he would seek to overturn this amendment through the legal process. She maintained that he could not do so because his role as a NAM overrides his position. This, in the view of Secy Saine-Firdaus, precluded him from trying to have a second bite of the cake.

Secy Saine told the court that the National Assembly was not a party and the decision may affect them if the suit is granted.

She finally urged the court to dismiss the suit as jurisdiction does not cover it and it is incompetent.

For her part, lawyer Amie Joof-Conteh, counsel for the IEC, submitted that the suit is incomplete because it did not disclose any cause of action against the 2nd defendant, IEC. She said that the matters complained are not matters that the 2nd defendant is party to and as such the plaintiff had no cause of action against the second defendant.

She said it is also incompetent to ask the 2nd defendant to go contrary to the Constitution of the country, adding that the 1997 constitution had mandated the IEC to conduct all national elections in the country. She cited some points of law to back up her submission. She finally urged the court to dismiss the case. The case continues today.   

Author: By Modou Sanyang
Source: The Point