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Thursday, October 29, 2020

9 Chiefs removed under Barrow

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By Tabora Bojang

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The minister of lands, regional government and religious affairs Musa Drammeh has informed the national assembly that nine district chiefs have been removed since President Barrow came to power in 2017.

The minister was responding to questions from members during yesterday’s session.

The national assembly members led by Halifa Sallah of Serekunda asked about the number of removed chiefs and alkalolu and the reasons for their removals.

Hon Sallah has contended that both the Local Government Act and the Constitution of The Gambia have stated the means through which the president determines whether a chief is guilty of misconduct or not and further provided for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to examine the conduct of any district chief before their removal.

In his response, Minister Drammeh disclosed that nine chiefs and two Alkalolu were removed while two others Sait Gaye of Sabach Sanjal and Ebou Colley of Foni Bondali district retired.

He said their removals or retirements were in the interest of upholding public interest and proper public administration.

According to the minister retirement is an honorary decision extended to some of the chiefs as a means of lesser punishment for misconducts.

The assembly members further pressed the minister as to how and who makes such decisions if there is no statutory retirement age for a chief.

Minister Drammeh replied that though there is a clause in the Act that provides retirement benefits for chiefs, if the impression was for the chiefs not to be retired there would not have been any provision for a retirement benefit.

“The establishment of a commission of inquiry is discretionary and not mandatory because the constitution states it as shall and not should, at the time of removing these chiefs the decision relied on was section136 of the local government act”, the minister argued.

The member for Brikama North Alagie S Darboe quickly interjected stating that ‘shall and may’ are both mandatory in the legal term, urging the minister to go and conduct a better finding to avoid misleading the assembly.

Darboe went on to allege that some chiefs were removed and were not captured in the list of those removed or retired by the government as provided by the minister.

He contented that the reasons advanced for their removals and retirements are vague, urging the minister to bring in more clarity.

The minister said the removal of chiefs was normally ordered by the office of the president and his ministry is sometimes not addressed or informed of the decisions.

The NAMs tasked the minister to go back, conduct an inquiry into the removals, and come back to the house to present the report to avoid misleading the house.

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