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Banjul Mayores Rohey Lowe files lawsuit against Commission of Inquiry Members, claims her right to a fair hearing has been violated

Rohey Malick Lowe, the Mayores of Banjul has filed a lawsuit against members of the Commission of Inquiry set up by President Adama Barrow to investigate claims of corruption and abuse of office in the Local Government Councils of The Gambia from 2018 to date, LTN has learnt.

The Banjul Mayoress filed the said suit at the High Court in Banjul against the Attorney General (1st Respondent), Samba Faal, a former Mayor of Banjul (2nd Respondent), Oreme E. Joiner, (3rd Respondent) and Alhagie Sillah, a former National Assembly Member for Banjul North (4th Respondent).

She claimed that with the appointment of Samba Faal, Oreme E. Joiner, and Alhagie Sillah, who are all members or sympathizers of the president’s party NPP and their coalition partner APRC, besides Samba Faal being a former mayor of the same council she now occupies, has violated her right to a fair hearing. The case of Mayoress Lowe against the Commission members will commence at the High Court in Banjul next week.

Rohey Malick Lowe further describes the setting up of the commission as an obstruction to their campaign in the upcoming local government elections in which she has already been selected by her party UDP as a Mayoral candidate to seek re-election this year.

According to the affidavit of summons filed by Rohey Malick Lowe, two of the members of the commission namely the 2nd and 4th Respondents have held top positions at the Banjul City Council; the 2nd Respondent was the Mayor of Banjul from 2008 to 2012 while the 4th Respondent was a Councillor from 1996 to 2008. She added that the said Members would therefore be affected by such an Inquiry.

“The said Commission of Inquiry was set up by the President of the Republic of The Gambia, the leader of the National People’s Party (NPP), and in which his party and its coalition members the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Respondents are known to be leading members/sympathizers and associates oft he National People’s Party/APRC Alliance parties. As such, they would not be independent arbiters in carrying out their mandate under the said Commission, particularly with respect to me as a member of the UDP, the main opposition party whose flag I hold the position of Mayoress. This would violate my right to a fair hearing guaranteed under Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997 as well as the rules of natural justice. Photographs of rallies held by the NPP in various parts of The Gambia in which the said Alhagie Sillah and Samba Faal were in attendance and participated are now produced and shown to me in a bundle marked ‘RML35 series‘,“ she submitted.

She disclosed that the 3rd Respondent is or was at one time or another a co-opted member of the Regional Executive Committee of the NPP and virtue of which his appointment as Vice Chairperson of the IEC was rescinded following a public outcry.

“A copy of the list of Regional Executive Committee members published by the NPP in various medium as well as publications of such outcry and rescission are now produced and shown to me marked ‘RML6 and RML7 series‘,“ she added.

Rohey Malick Lowe further argued in the Affidavit of summons that subsequent to the setting up of the said Commission of Inquiry, the leader of the UDP made a statement on the 15th day of February 2023, relating to what he believed to be the motive behind the setting up of the Commission and in response to this statement, the 1st Respondent (Attorney General) dispensed with his apolitical status by issuing a press statement disparaging the leader of UDP and the party as a whole which includes her as a member of the party and under whose flag she was elected as Mayoress of Banjul by the people of Banjul.

“I believe that the words uttered by the President of the Republic in the presence and to the hearing of the Commission members is prejudicial to the fair hearing of the Inquiry and has the effect of determining the outcome and findings of the Commission before its proceedings commence, thus creating a negative effect on me and the Banjul City Council,“ she noted.

According to her, the Banjul City Council submitted its annual budget to the Ministry on 23rd January 2023 well before the swearing-in ceremony of the Commission members as opposed to President Barrow’s claims in his statement during the said swearing-in ceremony of the Commission members.

“An extract from the Council’s weigh-book indicating receipt of the said annual budget by the Ministry of Lands, Regional Government, and Religious Affairs is now produced and shown to me marked ‘RML9‘,“ she submitted.

“I believe allowing the commission to carry out its mandate with its present members will infringe on my constitutionally guaranteed rights as I prepare to run for Mayoress of Banjul in May 2023,“ she said.

The Banjul Mayoress Rohey Malick Lowe finally submitted that it is only proper under the circumstances and in the interest of justice and fair hearing that said application be granted.  

The case will be heard at the Banjul High Court next week.

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