By: Madi Jorbateh – On 16 January 2017 Fabakary Tombong Jatta tabled a motion before the National Assembly led by Speaker Abdoulie Bojang to endorse a state of emergency declared by the Tyrant Yaya Jammeh. They went ahead to extend the life of the National Assembly as well as the term of the president. Yet on January 24, they came back to revoke that state of public emergency. The APRC NAMs led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta claimed the state of public emergency was necessary because the country faced a life threatening situation such as the exodus of Gambians to neighboring Senegal.
Section 34 of our Constitution gives authority to the president to declare a state of public emergency. A state of public emergency is declared where a country faces a life-threatening situation of significant proportions. The question now is what was the life-threatening situation that the Gambia faced to warrant a declaration of public emergency? Let’s look at the facts.
On 1 December 2016 Gambians went to the polls. On December 2 the IEC declared Adama Barrow winner, and on his own volition Yaya Jammeh conceded defeat and stated his intention to hand over. On December 9, he came back to swallow his own words by rejecting and annulling the results and vowed to call for a new vote under a reconstituted ‘God-fearing’ IEC. Immediately all voices of democracy in and outside of the Gambia condemned him and urged him to step down. The Gambia Bar Association clearly stated that Yaya Jammeh’s actions tantamount to treason.
More than any other institution, the National Assembly should have been the first to condemn such unconstitutional behaviour of Yaya Jammeh. Instead the APRC-dominated National Assembly decided to keep mute in total disregard of their constitutional responsibility. When the situation was now reaching crisis point due to the unconstitutional actions of both Yaya Jammeh and the National Assembly, Fabakary Tombong Jatta decided to lead his APRC NAMs to declare a state of public emergency on January 16, two days before the end of the term of Yaya Jammeh.
What Fabakary Tombong Jatta and the APRC NAMs did therefore was to enable Yaya Jammeh to flout the verdict of Gambians hence threaten national security. Consequently they used that self-generated situation to subvert the Constitution to legitimize the defeat of Yaya Jammeh by declaring a state of public emergency. By standing with Yaya Jammeh they were effectively plunging the country into an armed conflict. Had ECOWAS not come to salvage the Gambia, this country would have been engulfed in a bloody civil war that potentially cold turn into genocide. Thus the actions of Fabakary Tombong Jatta and Speaker Abdoulie Bojang and their APRC NAMs constituted a criminal act intended to cause an unconstitutional change of government.
In light of the above, I wish to call on interested Gambians to join me in exercise of our duty under Section 5 on the enforcement of the Constitution to file a suit at the Supreme Court against Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker Abdoulie Bojang and APRC NAMs for violating the 1997 Constitution. We demand that the Supreme Court declares the January 16 declaration of public emergency and the extension of both the life of the National Assembly and the president as unconstitutional and amounting to treason. We demand that the Supreme Court therefore orders the prosecution of Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Abdoulie Bojang and APRC NAMs for misconduct and treason under Section 6 on the defense of the Constitution.
I wish to call on all interested citizens and groups to organize in order to go to court to defend the Constitution under Section 5 and Section 6 in order to put a stop to impunity. If we allow this unconstitutional declaration of public emergency to stand, then we are condoning a direct violation of the supreme law of the land. Never again should Gambians allow any citizen to flout any part or whole of our constitution with impunity.
We need lawyers who would give free of charge service in pursuit of public interest.
Let us take Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Abdoulie Bojang and APRC NAMs to court. NOW!
God Bless The Gambia.