By Omar Bah & Momodou Justice Darboe
The embattled chairman of the Brikama Area Council has said that his “purported” expulsion from the UDP is null and void and that even if his ejection from the party was valid, it would not affect his position.
In a letter written to the UDP administrative secretary last Friday, Chairman Sheriffo Sonko said he ignored the expulsion letter sent to him on March 27 because he could not be expelled without previous notice and being heard in a fair hearing. He said no reason was ever communicated to him suggesting the party was considering his expulsion and also denied being guilty of “manifest or opulent” betrayal of the UDP.
He contended: “I have been a member of the UDP for 24 years and do not accept that the party which I have belonged for all this time is a party that can and does make this sort of decisions behind the back of its members… I am satisfied that my purported expulsion can be challenged in court but would prefer not to…do so unless compelled…”
Sonko said he was elected chairman by voters in 28 wards and 12 constituencies and therefore could not be removed from office “merely on the basis of a decision of the UDP”, the legality of which he challenged.
He said the UDP had written to the IEC to weigh in on the matter but he was pleased that the electoral commission had not “taken the bait and has seen fit not to involve itself in a matter in which it is not concerned”.
He said he continues to remain the chairman of the area council and “intends to act in accordance with the mandate given [him] by the electorate”…and demands that the party “allow [him] to continue to exercise [his duties] without interference”.
Chairman Sonko said the UDP deputy leader wrote to the BAC CEO on April 2 on their letter but the CEO replied that he did not have authority to act on the matter. He said on April 14, the Gunjur Ward councillor MC Gibba wrote to him asking him “to comply” with the expulsion order and “pack up and leave office with the little dignity [left]”.
Sonko said these clearly demonstrate the UDP’s intention to interfere with his chairmanship.
He admonished the party executive to “respect the electorate” and advise their members to do the same so that it does not become necessary for him to seek a court injunction restraining them.
In a headline article published by The Standard yesterday, the UDP intimated it may go to court to force the council and the IEC to act and call a by-election for the chairmanship of the council. UDP members accused Chairman Sonko of parleying to President Barrow and his newly formed NPP.