Civil Society seeks court action over decision by NAMs to award themselves 54.4 million building loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Two leading CSO groups, Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development, have mounted a legal challenge on the decision of the National Assembly (NA), awarding a colossal sum of money for a building loan scheme to themselves, worth almost 55 million dalasi.  The lawsuit filed on December 28th, 2020 is asking the court to:  

  1. a declaration that the amendment done by the National Assembly by including a budget line item of D54.4 million is in contravention of sections 151,152 and 155 of the Constitution and a violation of section 47 of the Public Finance Act, 2014,
  • a declaration that the approval of the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year 2021 with the inclusion of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly service was a usurpation of the powers given to the President in section 152 of the Constitution and a violation of clause 70 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly,
  • an order directing the Auditor General not to grant approval for the withdrawal of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it by the National Assembly or the National Assembly Service,
  • an order directing the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs  not to pay from  the Consolidated Fund or any Fund of the government the sum of D54.4 million or any money at all to the National Assembly members or staff of the National Assembly Service as loan pursuant to the approved estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for the year 2021,
  • An order severing and striking down the part of the Appropriation Act authorizing the payment of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to the National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly Service,
  • An injunction against the Clerk of the National Assembly and the National Assembly restraining them from raising warrants or preparing payment vouchers or any document that would facilitate the processing of the payment of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it to the staff of the National Assembly Service  and the National Assembly members,
  •  such further or other orders this Honourable Court may deem fit to make.

The case raises many questions as to the legality, collective responsibility and the ethics of such a decision.  

The case calls for an interpretation and enforcement of several provisions of the Constitution in the Public Finance Chapter of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997.

There is a motion for injunction which is to be heard on 19th January, 2021 by the Supreme Court. The prayers sought in that motion are:

  • An injunction against the Clerk of the National Assembly, his subordinates, any intended beneficiary and whomsoever from applying for, raising of warrants, preparing payment vouchers or any document to access the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it by himself, staff  of the National Assembly Service, National Assembly members pending the hearing and determination of this suit,
  • An order directing the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs to hold the sum of D54. 4 million allocated to the National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly Service,   in the public interest and not to pay same pending further orders of this court,
  • An order directing the Auditor General not to grant approval for the payment of the sum of 54.4 million pending further orders of the court, 
  • such further or other orders this court may deem fit to make in the circumstance

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Who:

Gambia Participates: A civil society that works around, but not limited to promoting, fiscal transparency and accountability, countering public sector corruption, government research, civic education and engagement. Using innovative digital tools and participatory techniques aid Gambia Participates in realizing the above intervention areas. GP also provides pro bono technical support to government institutions in advancing fiscal transparency in their respectful institutions. Since 2017, GP has been working on the “Know Your Budget” initiative, which has involved more than 300 rural communities in the 7 regions of The Gambia facilitating open and frank dialogue on the national budget between communities and their elected representatives.

Centre for Research and Policy Development: Established in 2018, the Center for Research and Policy Development (CRPD) is an independent, non- profit, and non-partisan social research, advocacy, learning and capacity building organization committed to promoting inclusive democratic governance in The Gambia. CRPD is committed to work with grassroots, national and international actors to address the Gambia’s development challenges by generating and communicating research-based knowledge to help inform policies and interventions. The Center also aims to trigger local dialogues to contextualize universally relevant ideals of inclusive democratic governance, promote efficiency, transparency and accountability for a secure and an economically prosperous Gambia.

Right to Know (R2K) Gambia– started its work in October 2016. Our membership/following has since grown to more than 6,000 people.  The founders are a grouping of individuals with professional backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics, economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia.  All members are human rights activists.  We are located in The Gambia, US, UK, West and Southern Africa. We are a non-partisan entity that focuses on rule of law and democracy, good governance, human rights and the principles of access to information and freedom of expression. 

For more information, please contact: Marr Nyang on 3827 187 or marr@gambiaparticipate.org

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