Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Opinion: Assault On Gambia By Jammeh And Fabakary Tombong Jatta And The APRC By Madi Jobarteh
Let it be clear to all and sundry that the declaration of state of emergency by Yaya Jammeh and endorsed by the National Assembly is unconstitutional. According to Section 34 of our constitution the president can only declare a state of emergency for only seven days first after it has been published in the Gazette. Where the National Assembly is not sitting, such a state of emergency can last for 21 days therefore. It is after the elapse of either seven or 21 days can the National Assembly now extend the State of Emergency to 90 days with a vote of two-thirds of the National Assembly Members.
In this case, the proclamation has not been published in the Gazette and the seven or 21 days have not yet elapsed as to warrant its extension to 90 days. Secondly no one has seen any gazette where the proclamation is published otherwise let them make it public. Hence the National Assembly has overstepped its powers by passing an illegal resolution for a 90-day state of emergency.
To further prove that the State of Emergency is unconstitutional one needs to look into the Constitution. It says that when the life of the National Assembly is extended under Section 99 Sub-section 2, then automatically the tenure of the president must also be extended under Section 63 Sub-section 6. So the question is why didn’t Fabakary Tombong Jatta and APRC parliamentarians do that? Why did they stop halfway?
Why did they not go further to extend the tenure of Yahya Jammeh as president to be in line with the Constitution? The answer is simple. They cannot invoke Section 63(6) because they know Gambians have decided on December 1. But because they have failed their legal and political responsibility according to the Constitution to impeach Yahya Jammeh for refusing the results, they now decided to maneuver behind the laws in order to kill the verdict of Gambians and support the word of Yaya Jammeh.
Indeed these people are nothing other than slaves and traitors. If indeed they feel right in their hearts and minds that what they did is legal then why did the National Assembly not go the full circle to extend the presidency of Yahya Jammeh as required by Section 63(6)? That Section says anytime the life of the National Assembly is extended, at the same time they must also extend the life of the presidency. Why didn’t they do that? Traitors!
Fabakary Tombong Jatta as the person whose name is on the motion must bear in mind that he has committed treason by flouting our Constitution. Secondly a state of emergency is a severe social, economic and political situation in any society hence the declaration of a state of emergency is a huge responsibility. By their action therefore, the members of the National Assembly have directly endangered the life of the Gambia as a nation and each and every citizen for no just cause. They have deliberately and unilaterally generated a condition that does not warrant a state of emergency and therefore imposed on the Gambia a very uncertain and unstable situation.
The reasons that Yahya Jammeh gave for his proclamation of emergency are untenable because they bear no basis in reality or law. Rather it is he who has generated a threatening situation in the Gambia and therefore he cannot come around to blame anyone for what he did. There are no foreign governments or organizations threatening the peace and stability of the Gambia. The only person threatening the peace and security of the Gambia is Yahya Jammeh and aided and abeted by the APRC National Assembly members led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta.
This unconstitutional declaration of a state of emergency is once more a clear, direct and blatant act of unconstitutional change of government, which carries the penalty of death, as it is treason. This is the second time in 22 years that Yahya Jammeh has overthrown the democratically elected Government of the Gambia without the consent of the people of the Gambia. This is treason.
Even though the declaration of emergency is illegal, let Yahya Jammeh and Fabakary Tombong Jatta know that even under a state of emergency there a specified rights which must not be violated for any reason and under any circumstances. According to Section 35 of our Constitution the following rights must not be violated at all under emergency powers:
1. Section 19 – Right to personal liberty. This means no one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. Anyone arrested or detained must be told within three hours the reason for his or her arrest in the language he or she understands. Within 72 hours he or she must be taken before a court of law. Such a person has the right to see his or her family and lawyers and to be treated with dignity.
2. Section 23 – Right to Privacy. This means the security have no powers or authority to enter or search anyone’s home without a warrant or permission. They cannot interfere with any person’s correspondences or communications on phone, email or mail. No one should be put under surveillance without his or her knowledge.
3. Section 24 – Right to fair trial and protection of the law. This means everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law. It means anyone put before a court must be public and assured of a fair trial.
4. Section 25 – Freedom of Speech, Conscience, Assembly, Association and Movement. This means citizens have the right to express themselves as they like and to demonstrate and form groups and go anywhere they wish to go.
International law also demands that under no circumstances including a state of emergency should anyone be tortured or treated inhumanely.
Hence Yaya Jammeh and Fabakary Tombong Jatta must bear in mind that the lives and rights of Gambians are in their hands. Any destruction of life and right lies squarely with them, and either at home or abroad or both, they will face accountability.
This declaration of state of emergency is illegal and uncalled for. What we need is Yahya Jammeh to step down on Thursday January 19 to protect the peace and security of the Gambia. He cannot cause an uncertain situation and then use that situation to justify actions that are completely unconstitutional and threatening national security.