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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

NAMs loan rejection is a warning that ‘impunity will not thrive’

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By Omar Bah

Anti-corruption activist and founder of Gambia Participates, Marr Nyang has said the Supreme Court rejection of the NAMs D54.4 million loan is a strong warning that impunity will not thrive.

Last November, nominated National Assembly member Ya-Kumba Jaiteh moved a motion to create a new budget line of D54.4 million as a loan scheme for lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly.

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But two leading CSOs, Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development, filed a legal challenge on the decision.

The groups filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court seeking for the court to declare that the amendment done by the National Assembly is “in contravention of sections 151,152 and 155 of the Constitution and a violation of section 47 of the Public Finance Act, 2014”.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as unconstitutional the lawmakers’ attempts to create a D54 million loan scheme and called for its scrapping from the 2021 budget.

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Reacting to the court in a Standard exclusive yesterday, Marr Nyang said: “The Supreme Court ruling has sent a very strong warning to the Executive and the National Assembly that whenever they take steps not legal, we have independent courts where they could be challenged to avoid impunity in this country, mal-administration of institutions and personalisation of institutions and wealth of this country.”

He said the court ruling has clearly demonstrated that the National Assembly has its limits.

“The court ruling also shows that our democracy and the observation of the rule of law is gradually improving. I believe it is a win for our democracy because politicians have misled us for far too long and this is what the civil society wants to change. We did this for the first time and won – we will do it again for the executive and any individual working in government who wants to personalise the wealth or institutions of this country,” Nyang added.

The ruling, the young anti-corruption activist added, means that his organisation and civil society in general now have teeth to bite.

“The court ruling is also setting the foundation of separation of powers to be observed in this country so that none of the three arms of government will step in each other’s role to monopolise power,” he said.

The National Assembly, he stressed, is supposed to be independent but there “are laws and regulations that guide their independence to ensure they don’t abuse it and, in this occasion, they have abused their independence to serve their personal interest”.

He said the National Assembly and Government should now prioritise the anti-corruption bill to fight against the endemic corruption in the country. 

Nyang said an anti-corruption commission will strengthen the country’s democracy and ensure the wealth of the country is protected and any individual working in government will be mindful.

“With the absence of these kinds of institutions, there has been corruption with impunity and there is no accountability,” he said. Another activist who prefers to remain anonymous also told this medium yesterday that he could not understand why would NAMs, who already have good, safe and secure jobs with all the benefits including a pension contribution, take further loans when majority Gambian youth are unemployed.

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