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Sunday, April 14, 2024

3 NAMs sue Clerk, AG over removal from Ecowas Parliament

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By Omar Bah

Fatoumata ‘Touma’ Njai of Banjul South, Samba Jallow of Niamina East, and Kebba Barrow of Kombo South have filed a lawsuit at the high court against the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Attorney General over their “illegal” removal from the Ecowas Parliament. The clerk is the first respondent while the AG is the second.

In January 2024, the parliamentarians accused the assembly of removing them from the Ecowas Parliament without following due process. Touma is allegedly replaced by nominated member Maimuna Ceesay. The clerk of the National Assembly, Momodou Sise described the NAM’s allegations of unlawful removal as “inconsistent with facts, deliberately misleading to the public, and unfair” to his office.

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But in a lawsuit filed by Lamin J Darbo of Dabanani Chambers obtained by The Standard, the three aggrieved lawmakers want the high court to declare that the attempts by the Clerk of the National Assembly to remove them from their elected membership in the Ecowas Parliament are discriminatory, unconstitutional, null, and void.

They also want the court to issue an order restraining the clerk, his servants and others from attempting to remove them from their elected membership of the regional parliament.

They are also demanding payment of legal cost they incurred in litigating the matter.

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In their affidavit, the NAMs argued that after the 2017 National Assembly elections, they along with Muhamed Magassy and Mahtarr Jeng (who have ceased to be parliamentarians), were elected to represent the country at the Ecowas Parliament.

They said this was a year after the inauguration of the fourth legislature of the Ecowas Parliament which runs from 2016 to 2020 and that the National Assembly committees are quinquennial (2017–2022).

According to the NAMs, following the legislative election in 2022, three of them were re-elected and there was an attempt to remove them from the Ecowas Parliament when the law states that “a representative shall be elected for a period of four years from the date of the inauguration of the Parliament by the Chairman of Authority”. They said therefore their mandate should end on the last day of the legislature.

The NAMs added that the plenary of the National Assembly debated and adopted with amendments upon confirmation that they could not be removed from the Ecowas Parliament and the legal department of the National Assembly also confirmed so to the Selection Committee.

They said the list of approved committees was released to National Assembly Members and on all official communications, including the National Assembly website, as was approved from 2022 to 2027, the aggrieved MPs added.

The NAMs argued that when the fifth legislature of the Ecowas Parliament ended, the procedure is that the Ecowas Parliament should write to all member state parliaments to notify them.

“[A]ll the National Assembly needed to do was confirm the list of committees and international delegations approved in April 2022 by its plenary and duly stamped and dated 2022-2027 as it applied in March 2020. [T]o change the applicant’s status as The Gambia’s representatives to the Ecowas Parliament, the Selection Committee of the National Assembly should report back to the plenary for approval,” they stated.

The clerk and the justice minister have been ordered to appear at the high court within eight days of receiving the summons.

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