Gambia’s opposition leader Ousainou Darboe has issued a statement expressing disappointment at yesterday’s rejection of his election petition case.
Darboe’s United Democratic Party (UDP) was defeated in the December 4th presidential election by President Adama Barrow.
Unhappy with the election results, the party filed a suit at the supreme court , alleging widespread voter fraud and illegal inducement of prospective voters during the campaign had dismissed the exercise as a charade.
The petition was however dismissed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning after the party failed to comply with Rule 11 of the Election Petition Act which stipulates that person or institution petitioned should be served a notice of petition.
Reacting to the verdict on Wednesday, Mr Darboe said: “On the 28th of December 2021 the Supreme Court, sitting with a panel of 5 Justices, delivered a ruling on two applications that had been filed on behalf of President Elect Adama Barrow.
” The first application sought to dismiss the petition on the following grounds:
That the petition was filed late;
That the petition was improperly amended;
That the IEC was improperly joined to the case; and
That President Elect Adama Barrow was not properly served.
“The Supreme Court dismissed the first application as lacking merit and agreed with the UDP’s arguments.
” The second application claimed (Under Rule 11 of Election Rules) that UDP had not served a notice of presentation of the petition as well as a notice of proposed cost on President Elect Adama Barrow within five days after presentation of the petition and therefore the petition should be struck out.
“In fact the UDP had conducted its case above and beyond the requirements of Rule 11 in that:
” The Petition was served within 48 hours of filing and the Respondent had already commenced participating in the matter;
“UDP had applied for costs to be ordered. Indeed costs of GMD 300,000 was ordered and paid immediately within the five day period. Therefore a notice of proposed cost was overtaken by events.
” Notice of the costs was given to the Respondent by the Master of the High Court and further re-issued a second time by UDP to the Respondent.
” All these steps were upheld by the Court.
“Surprisingly the Supreme Court decided to dismiss the entire Petition on a trivial point of technicality
” It is even more disappointing that the Supreme Court chose to strike out the petition when striking out was not a remedy provided for by statute.
“Further, the United Democratic Party had on the 24th of December filed 30 witness statements and over two thousand pages of overwhelming evidence that established beyond any reasonable doubt that:
a. The conduct of the election was fraught with corrupt conduct and vote buying;
b. Thousands of voters were added to the voter list after close of registration;
c. Thousands of foreigners obtained voters cards in The Gambia illegally;
“The conduct of the vote counting was full of irregularities that made the result of the election null and void.
” Over the past three weeks the United Democratic Party has carried out diligent investigation and placed evidence before the Supreme Court to demonstrate how the elections were stolen from The Gambian people.
” While we respect the decision of the Supreme Court as the apex judicial authority, we express our unreserved disappointment that the will of the Gambian people is once again suppressed.
” We will explore all legal options and ensure that the evidence gathered is presented to The Gambian people.
” Our legal team have over the past few weeks, worked tirelessly – (burning the midnight oil) to ensure that we prosecute our petition by presenting evidence in its support.
” The United Democratic Party takes this opportunity to salute these great men and women of the Law for their principled stand that justice should not be sacrificed on the altar of technicalities.
” The UDP therefore wishes to assure all its supporters and every Gambian, including the Respondent, that it has not LOST the Petition. UDP was driven from the seat of judgment by being barred from presenting evidence in support of its case.
” Despite the striking out of the Petition by the Supreme Court, the leadership of UDP calls on all its members to continue to be law abiding while pursuing their legitimate constitutional rights of recruiting more people into the membership of the party.”