The Gambia’s Bar Association has expressed ‘serious concern’ at President Adama Barrow’s decision to revoke the nomination of Ya Kumba Jaiteh from the country’s National Assembly describing it as ‘unconstitutional and ‘ultra vires’.
The Bar Association said it is of the strong opinion that the executive decision purportedly revoking the nomination of Ms Jaiteh is not in accordance with the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia.
Ms Jaiteh, a UDP member who serve on the Foreign Affairs and the Local Government and Lands Committee of the Assembly, has had her nomination revoked by President Barrow after she publicly laid into him during a political meeting.
No reason was given for the presidential decision but she is believed to be a victim of the ongoing feud between President Barrow and his political godfather, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
A letter issued on Monday to Ms Jaiteh by the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Ebrima Camara said: “I write to convey executive decision to revoke your nomination as National Assembly Member with immediate effect.
But the Bar Association said the power vested on the president by the 1997 Constitution is limited to the nomination of five National Assembly Members.
“Furthermore, there is no provision in the Constitution that grants the president, the power or authority to revoke, dismiss, terminate or end the tenure of a nominated or elected member of the National Assembly,” said Salieu Taal, president of the Gambia Bar Association.
“It is pertinent to note that a nominated member of the National Assembly upon taking the prescribed oath, enjoys all the rights, privileges and protection afforded to all members of the National Assembly.
“Therefore, the only legal grounds upon which a nominated National Assembly Member can be removed are stipulated in sections 91 (as amended) and 93 of the Constitution. In the circumstances, the Gambia Bar Association considers the Executive decision purportedly revoking the nomination of Hon. Kumba Jaiteh as unconstitutional and ultra vires.”
The Bar Association reminded the president that a National Assembly Member is not under the purview of the of the Executive by virtue of section 166 (4) (a) of the Constitution.
It said an office in the public service does not include the Offices of President, Vice President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Secretary of State or a Member of the National Assembly (our emphasis).
The Bar Association added: “In light of the aforementioned, the Executive acting through the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, has no jurisdiction over any nominated National Assembly Member once they are sworn into office. To this end, the purported revocation is functus officio.”
It ‘strongly’ advised the president to take cognizance of the sacrosanct principle of the separation of powers and respect for the rule of law.
It also reminded the president that his powers are subject to the limits set by the Constitution and him and those acting on his behalf should desist from preventing Ya Kumba Jaiteh from discharging her duties as a member of the National Assembly.