First and foremost, let us begin with the definition of each of these words.
According to the Collins English Dictionary, the word Gazette is a noun and the word Gazetting is a verb and the former means:-
“a newspaper or official journal.”
In Britain is an official document containing public notices, appointments, etc. It also means to announce or report (facts or an event) in a gazette.
According to the aforesaid authority, the word proclamation is a noun and the word proclaim is a verb and the later means:-
“to announce publicly or to indicate plainly.”
However, in accordance with section 7 (b), of the 1997 Constitution, reads:-
“In addition to this Constitution, the laws of The Gambia consist of –
(b) any Orders, Rules, Regulations or other subsidiary legislation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution or any other law.”
So the President’s Proclamation is an equivalent of law, because the person in the President is an authority in himself.
Furthermore, the President acted within the spirit of Section 97 (1), of the 1997 Constitution which states:-
“The first session of the National Assembly after a general election shall be held in such place in The Gambia as the President may, by Proclamation, appoint.”
Literally, Section 97 (1), even gives the President by Proclamation the power to choose such place in The Gambia for such a parliamentary gathering.
In a similar constitutional measure, is like the power conferred on the Chief Justice to cause the Supreme Court of The Gambia to sit at any place as he appoints, by virtue of Section 125 (4), of the 1997 Constitution as it provides:-
“The Supreme Court may sit at any place in The Gambia appointed by the Chief Justice.”
On an equal footing, the Chief Justice, by the intendment of Section 131 (3), may cause the High Court of The Gambia to sit at such places as he determines. Hence the provision:-
“The High Court may sit at such places in The Gambia as the Chief Justice may determine, and he or she may establish permanent divisions of the Court to sit at various places throughout The Gambia and appoint judges of the Court to any such division.”
In the final analysis, Gazetting is what the newspapers do on daily basis.
Yes, Gazetting a Presidential Proclamation might be a law elsewhere but not in our jurisdiction. Besides laws are never the same at any given time and place. We may also recommend an Official Journal for the Government as a medium of communication, and it may also not be a crime if we choose to leave that to the Constitutional Review Commission.
We do not have it anywhere in our law books that states that for a Presidential Proclamation to have the effect of the law must be Gazetted.
If I choose to be Mr. Lord-High-Everything-Else, I can comfortably argue that, the recently concluded swearing-in ceremony of the National Assembly members supposed to be administered by the Speaker of the House and not the Clerk of the House. If Section 88 (2), of the 1997 Constitution is of any standard to be used here, and it reads:-
“Before taking his or her seat in the National Assembly, a member shall take the prescribed oaths before the Speaker:”
I know the usual argument will be, the Standing Order says so or is a long traditional practice in the House.
Another possible argument is found in Section 108 (1), of the 1997 Constitution, which states:-
“Subject to the provision of this Constitution the National Assembly may regulate its own procedure and, in particular, may make Standing Orders for the conduct of its own proceedings.”
Notwithstanding all these possible arguments, Section 4 of the 1997 Constitution overrides, and it reads:-
“This Constitution is the supreme law of The Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
With this argument, I don’t think there exist any outstanding legal arrears in the legality or constitutionality of the Presidential Proclamation.
I will conclude, with this quotation from Dr. Owl of the Daily Observer.
“It is impossible to Practice Parliamentary Politics Without Having, Decency, Politeness and Courtesy.”
By Kawsu E Jadama