The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on President Yaya Jammeh of Gambia to respect the wish of the people as expressed in the country’s recent presidential election, in which he was defeated by opposition candidate, Mr. Adama Barrow, and called on the international community to resist the Gambian President’s attempt to spark constitutional and humanitarian crises in the country.

In a statement signed by its President, Mr. Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN), the NBA noted that President Jammeh, who initially announced his acceptance of the poll result showing that Mr. Barrow won 45 percent of the votes, has since rejected the results, demanding that the election be conducted again and vowing to mount a legal challenge to the outcome.

The NBA reasoned that President Jammeh’s sudden volte face is an attempt to spark constitutional as well as a humanitarian crisis in the country and must be resisted.

“We wish to remind President Jammeh that in the ‘constitutional convergence of principles’ embodied in Section 1 of the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/ 12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Peacekeeping and Security, the countries of the sub-region (of which The Gambia is a part) affirmed that ‘Every ascension to power must be made through free, fair and transparent elections. They also affirmed ‘Zero Tolerance for power obtained and maintained by unconstitutional means.' Article 9 of the same Supplementary Protocol also affirmed that ‘The party and/or candidate who loses election shall concede defeat to the party and/or candidate declared the winner, following the guidelines and within the deadline stipulated by the law,” said the NBA.

The association similarly drew President Jammeh’s attention and that of the international community to the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in which state parties agreed that the deployment of illegal means to obtain or maintain power amounts to an unconstitutional change of government, which must draw appropriate sanctions from the African Union. An unconstitutional change of government, stated the NBA, includes “any refusal by an incumbent government to relinquish power to the winning party or candidate after free, fair and regular elections.”

While calling on President Jammeh to follow the path of honor by respecting the wish of the Gambian people expressed through their votes on December 1  and relinquish power in January, the NBA called on President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy all diplomatic means to ensure that the incumbent Gambian president respects the wish of the country’s citizens.

“This is important as the West African sub-region can no longer tolerate bad electoral behavior, and Nigeria will be among the countries that will bear the brunt of a humanitarian crisis should Gambia descend into violence and lawlessness. We urge the Chairperson of ECOWAS, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia to rally international support to abort the sinister attempt by President Jammeh to cling to power against the wish of the people after 22 years in power,” the NBA added.

It equally urged the Gambian judiciary and Nigerian judges serving in the country not to lend themselves to the use of President Jammeh in his bid to subvert the people’s wish. The NBA also counseled the country’s military to be politically neutral and show loyalty to the Gambian Constitution and democratically elected authorities.

It promised to maintain close contact with the Gambian Bar Association in this critical period, adding that it will use all available channels to ensure that the democratic wish of the people is affirmed and respected. The NBA expressed solidarity with the country’s citizens and called on them to remain vigilant, law-abiding and use all democratic means to express their desire to make the incumbent regime exit in January.

 

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