Thursday, November 17, 2016

Independent Electoral Commission employs NIA agents and its premises serve as holding cells

Lawyer Joseph H. Joof
The Gambia under Yaya Jammeh has been transformed from one of Africa's most open societies into one of the world's most sinister countries in the same league North Korea without the nuclear power component.

This fact came to life and was substantiated in person by Attorney Joseph Joof, fer Attorney General under Jammeh narrated his experience with the Gambia's so-called Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during an interview on Diasporium online radio.

In response to a question by a Gambian journalist as to why Mr. Joof was neither on the presidential ballot as an Independent candidate for the presidency nor as a member of the Coalition of seven opposition.parties and a former Independent candidate led by Hon. Adama Barrow.  A number of Gambians was wondering as well since Mr. Joof was among the first to declare his intent to contest the elections as an Independent candidate for the presidency.

Mr. Joof proceeded to respond to what can only be characterized as a horror story and it goes essentially like this : He asked his agent to collect a nomination form from the IEC offices he was not only denied but was detained and subsequently held in a holding cell in the IEC premises by NIA agents who double as staffers of the Independent Electoral Commission.  Mr. Joof's agent was released after spending a night and asked never to return to the IEC premises.

It is evident from Mr. Joof''s account, Jammeh has succeeded in transforming the IEC offices not as nest for secret agent but as a holding cell for Gambians whose crime is requesting a nomination form.  How long this has been going on is unclear.

It appears that Jammeh issued instructions and according to the former Attorney General, threatened The Chairman of the IEC, Alieu Momar Njie, should he allow Mr. Joof to contest the elections.  In fact, even after eventually downloading the forms from the Commission's website which had not been operational for an entire year, the IEC was in no mood to accept Mr. Joof's forms nor his cash deposit by giving him numerous appointments only to be told to return the next day.

A law suit has been filed by Mr. Joof in the Supreme Court of the Gambia agaonst the IEC for deny him his right to contest the elections by refusing to accept and approve his nomination and cash deposit that would have allowed him to participate in the December presidential elections.  As he explained, it is because of the suit that is pending before the Supreme Court that he legally restraint from taking an active member of the Coalition. He is. however. with the Coalition opposition in spirit according to him.