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TOUMA, OTHERS QUERY REMOVAL FROM ECOWAS PARLIAMENT

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Demand resignation of Clerk, Comms. Director

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By Omar Bah

The National Assembly members for Banjul South, Niamina Dankunku, and Kombo South have written to the National Assembly to query their ‘unlawful’ removal from the Ecowas Parliament and demanded the resignation or impeachment of the Clerk, Modou Ceesay, and Director of Communications, Gibairou Janneh, if they are found wanting or misleading the public in a Standard Newspaper publication.

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The National Assembly is accused of removing NAMs Fatumatta Njai, Samba Jallow and Kebba K Barrow from the Ecowas Parliament without due process. Touma is allegedly replaced by nominated member Maimuna Ceesay.

The mandate of all the current National Assembly committees, including the Ecowas Parliament committees, as sanctioned by the plenary, would expire in 2027.

In a letter addressed to the Assembly and obtained by The Standard, the three NAMs wrote: “We draw your attention to the first session of the National Assembly after the swearing in of the 6th Legislature in April of 2022. A list of committees was presented to the plenary. This list was debated and, as a normal procedure, approved with amendments. Attached to this letter is a copy of the list of committees as approved and stamped by the relevant office. Therefore, any attempt to amend this approved list must be presented back to the plenary as the apex body of this August Assembly.

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Therefore, since it is the procedure that any amendment to any approved provision made at the plenary must be approved by the same plenary, anything else would be deemed illegal, hence unlawful. We are therefore calling your office to rescind any decision made to amend the approved list without due process being taken.”

According to the NAMs, Clause 111 states that the Committee of Selection shall consist of the Speaker as chairperson and five Members of the Assembly, of whom three shall be nominated by the Majority Leader and two by the Minority Leader in consultation with their respective groups, and shall perform the functions allotted to it by the Standing Orders and any other functions as the Assembly may from time to time confer upon it, and that it shall report its decisions to the Assembly for approval.

“We draw your attention to the fact that this said committee failed to report to the plenary for approval according to the above provision of the Standing Order. Hence, any decision taken cannot be deemed legal or right. Accordingly, we are still considered the rightful members of the Ecowas Parliament, as stated by the attached list from 2022 to 2027. Any amendment shall be deemed under Section 110 of the 1997 Constitution to be an act or omission that obstructs or impedes the National Assembly in the performance of its functions or that obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the National Assembly in the discharge of his or her duties. This is therefore an affront to the dignity of the National Assembly and shall be deemed a contempt of the National Assembly, and, in addition to any liability in respect thereof under the criminal law, the offender shall be liable. Hence, we shall take you as well as the Committee of Selection liable as stated.”

It added: “We also want to draw your attention to the media print on January 24, 2024, on The Standard Newspaper, quoting the director of communications stating that there is no Ecowas Parliament at the moment. This was done after your office referred the journalist to the said director. I hereby quote it directly from the paper as stated: “When contacted for comments, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Modou Ceesay, referred us to the director of communication, Gibairou Janneh, who said that because there is currently no Ecowas Parliament, the National Assembly cannot comment on that. Until we receive notification from the Ecowas Parliament that we should send our nominees, we cannot comment on the matter. If they are about to reconvene, they will communicate with us to request our nominees.”

“This is also misleading, and as a result, contrary to Section 110 of the Constitution, which states: any act or omission which obstructs or impedes the National Assembly in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the National Assembly in the discharge of his or her duties or affronts the dignity of the National Assembly shall be a contempt of the National Assembly, and, in addition to any liability in respect thereof under the criminal law, the offender shall be liable to reprimand or admonition by the National Assembly, and if the offender is a member of the National Assembly, suspension or expulsion from the National Assembly.

“We formally write to request from you, as the custodian of Assembly documents and the Clerk of the Assembly, that you forthwith provide us with the Hansard of the day of the said meetings of the Assembly as well as the minutes of the committee of selections both before and after the plenary session and all minutes relating to such selection taken from 2022–2023 and the most recent one in 2024. As also agreed by the said members, if any of the staff or members are found to be manipulating decisions taken by the apex body of the Assembly, the plenary, sanctions prescribed by the rules of procedures and the constitution shall be applied, and if need be, we shall demand the resignations of both the clerk and the director of communication,” the letter signed by NAM Touma Njai on behalf her colleagues, concluded.

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