By Tabora Bojang
The Speaker of the National Assembly has warned lawmakers against referring to the conduct of the president, judges and the speaker of the National Assembly in respect to the performance of their functions unless on a ‘substantive motion.’
The visibly furious speaker made this ruling when he clashed with two lawmakers during chaotic scenes at the parliament Thursday.
His clash with Sami NAM Alfusainey Ceesay came after the opposition NAM called out against the anti-FGM law, describing it as a ‘bad law’ while warning fellow lawmakers against setting bad precedence. “The anti-FGM law was passed in this very parliament and if you are not careful you may pass a bad law here and you may one day be up there as a Speaker.”
These remarks didn’t go well with the Speaker who quickly intervened and asked NAM Ceesay to clarify but Ceesay replied he was only making a general admonition to all lawmakers.
However, when Ceesay finished his debate, the Speaker advised that all must be mindful of their statements. “We cannot make blanket statements and we should always remember that we are dealing with humans not angels.
Some people who are shouting loudly made blunders yesterday. So, to err is human,” he said.
The Speaker also had another standoff, this time with Lower Saloum NAM, Sainey Jawara, who accused him of protecting the minister of communication and digital economy who the lawmaker accused of giving false information to the parliament on Gamtel’s international gateway.
The Speaker intervened and asked him to sit down. The Speaker charged: “You don’t make those blanket statements. You better learn the ethics of parliamentary procedures. What is my interest in protecting somebody? I told you that you don’t talk about the President, the Speaker and Judges until on substantive motion”.
However, NAM Jawara could be heard and appeared to be saying “I am not referring to you,” but the Speaker interjected and said: “It is not about me, it is about the Office of the Speaker.’’
While the Speaker was exchanging words with NAM Jawara, NAM Ceesay of Sami was also heard trying to raise a point of order but the Speaker roared at him and told him to sit down.
“When I am talking, everyone else sits down and nobody talks except with my permission and if you are here, we will give you the same respect. I was checking on you on the use of the speaker. You cannot talk about the Speaker, the President, the Judges. It is not correct. We have regulated ourselves and one of my duties is to enforce the regulations. To err is human but when you are called to order, accept it.”
Ceesay tried to continue to speak but Speaker Jatta further told him: “Hon member for Sami, do you know that when the Speaker rules whether you like or not it stands. Please obey the rules. When I am talking, and you are talking, you are disobeying the rule. I have not given you permission. Don’t push me to my limits. I try to understand you as much as possible but let’s give each other our dues”.
When asked to continue his debate, NAM Jawara charged at the Speaker again saying: “I didn’t talk about whether you are here or not. I was telling you that every member who comes here with a question does his research but you were trying to back the minister.”
The Speaker was furious again and warned that he would not be given the floor if he utters such remarks again. NAM Jawara insisted:” ‘I don’t have any problems with that because you don’t want people to speak the truth”.