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Monday, September 26, 2022

Disobedience and abuse by the Gambia Government

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By Madi Jobarteh

The blatant abuse of power and utter disregard of court orders by The Gambia Government against Global HOMM should outrage the conscience and concern of each and every citizen to stand up in defense of this charitable organization and its country director Nenneh Freda Gomez.

On Thursday June 23 Nenneh was denied once again entry to the legally owned property of her organization after several decisions by various courts that the property belongs to them. Not only did the courts certify her organization is the rightful owner of the place but also Global HOMM is up to date on the payment of rates for the property hence indicating that the Government itself has confirmed their ownership otherwise they would not have accepted the payment of taxes.

Yet The Gambia Government, without fear or shame and in total disregard of the Constitution continues to disobey the decisions of constitutionally established courts in this country. None more than the Government has the obligation to uphold court rulings. Yet it is that same Government that is seen acting in total contravention of the Constitution which had given judicial power to the courts and enjoins all to respect its decisions.

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In Section 120 of the Constitution, after the courts were established and vested with judicial power and to be independent and not subject to the authority of any person or authority, subsection 4 went further to place a special obligation on the Government to respect and assist the courts as stipulated here,

“The Government and all departments and agencies of the Government shall accord such assistance to the courts as the courts may reasonably require to protect their independence, dignity and effectiveness.”

Therefore, on what authority or imagination should The Gambia Government disregard a court ruling as in this case involving Global HOMM?

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This case is serious and all Gambians must be worried, concerned and agitated. This is because the very foundation of our republic is that there are three separate centers of power which are independent of each other. They should not interfere with but to respect each other. This is precisely to ensure that all power is not vested in one person or authority. This is to prevent abuse and corruption.

This is meant to ensure that power is restrained as the three organs serve as checks and balances against one another hence allow the rule of law to prevail. It is only in this context that accountability prevails in which case human rights are protected and justice is dispensed and sustainable development is delivered to the people.

Hence when a court judgement is flouted by anyone in society then the very foundations of democratic governance and the republic are threatened. Flouting court orders simply means one wishes to bring about the survival of the fittest, that is, might over right. This is clearly what The Gambia Government has done by disregarding a court order and then using armed police to deny lawful owners enjoy their rightful properties.

Thus let it be known that The Gambia Government has just committed armed robbery. It’s actions are no different from pirates in the high seas and armed robbers in our communities who disregard the Constitution by forcefully seizing people’s lawful properties.

Even more serious is the fact that this action by the Government tantamount to contempt of court which is a criminal offense. By this action, it means the Government has become not only a disobedient rogue entity but also has disrespected and disgraced the courts.

The dignity of the courts has been guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. This is further reinforced by citizens and entities by submitting themselves to the decisions of the court even if they disagree. This is what happens in a civilized democratic republic.

Hence when a citizen or any entity and especially the Government flouts a court decision, it does not only mean disobedience but it also means disgracing and ridiculing the dignity of the court. That’s assault. That is a heinous crime from a democratic and republican standpoints.

The court has no police or army to enforce its decision. It relies on citizens, entities and Government to enforce court decisions by accepting those decisions. Therefore if a citizen or any entity and more seriously the Government flouts a court decision then this is the highest disrespect and assault on the court.

For the Executive arm of the state to flout a court decision means usurpation of the power and status of the Judiciary as a pillar of the State. Technically that tantamount to a coup d’etat since it means an organ of the State is knocked down. This is what The Gambia Government has just committed – a coup d’etat.

All citizens must therefore stand with Global HOMM by realizing that if this abuse of power and disobedience should stand then it means no other citizen or entity is safe in this country. It means my property and your property and indeed any of our rights can also be stolen today or tomorrow by the Government and nothing comes out of it. That’s impunity.

The Government must be told to pull back its armed police from that private property and submit itself to the court rulings on this case. The Government must be told to follow due process and not to trample upon it. The Government must be told to compensate Nenneh and Lamin Sey as ruled by the courts.

Pres. Adama Barrow promised system change and ‘Never Again’ in his 2016 presidential elections manifesto. That manifesto was set against such actions that his Government is now perpetuating six years down the line. Let us not allow him. Let us stop the Government from becoming a vagabond on our heads.

I hereby call on all Gambians to join Nenneh Freda Gomez the next time she visits their lawful property in Bijilo. Let us all go with her and occupy that property in solidarity with Global HOMM and in defense of our own rights and lives.

Adama Barrow and Dawda Jallow and Abdoulie Sanyang do not own this country alone. They are public servants meant to uphold the law, protect human rights and respect court rulings. Failure to do so means they are in contempt of not only the courts but also in contempt of the Constitution and disrespecting the supremacy and sovereignty of citizens as stipulated in Section 1(2) of the Constitution.

Stand up. Speak up.  

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