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 Ebrima Sillah refuse to take an oath before NA
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Posted - 28 Jun 2022 :  22:40:57  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Taking an Oath before NA Committee is a Constitutional Requirement
By Madi Jobarteh

All citizens are required to respect and uphold the dignity of the National Assembly and its Members because they embody the collective will, power and sovereignty of the Gambia. This is why parliamentarians are called ‘honourable’ members simply because they are worthy of honour for being NAMs. This means each and every member of the National Assembly should also conduct himself and herself with dignity and honour, at all times.

In this regard, the President, Vice President and Cabinet Ministers should, beyond and above everyone else, respect and be seen to respect the National Assembly to which they are answerable according to the Constitution. Therefore, the refusal by the Minister of Works Ebrima Sillah to take an oath before a National Assembly Committee yesterday was gross misconduct that tantamount to contempt of the National Assembly as per Section 110 of the Constitution.

Minister Sillah should be reminded that both Section 109 of the Constitution and Section 101 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly have given power to National Assembly Committees to administer an oath to anyone who appears before them.

This is the language of both sections 109 of the Constitution and 101 of the Standing Orders,

“For the purpose of effectively performing, its functions, each of the committees shall have all of the powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial in respect of-

1. enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise;”.

Furthermore, Section 103(7) of the Standing Orders went on to state that, “An oath or affirmation taken or made by any witness shall be administered by the Chairperson of the Committee, or by the Committee Clerk.”

It must be noted that anyone who appears before a National Assembly Committee for whatever reason, in whatever portfolio or capacity, such a person is a witness and therefore these relevant sections apply. Therefore Hon. Yaya Sanyang was completely right to request Minster Sillah to take an oath before his Committee.

It is therefore utterly concerning and totally disrespectful for a Cabinet Minister to ridicule and attack a National Assembly Member on the floor of a Committee session when the National Assembly is only seeking to enforce the law. This misbehavior perpetrated by Ebrima Sillah is setting a dangerous precedent that will make other Ministers as well as any citizen to also refuse to submit to the authority of the National Assembly. Such misconduct is therefore a direct threat to both the Constitution and the good governance of the country that must be nibbed in the bud.

The Speaker should therefore, under Section 77(4) of the Constitution, summon Minister Ebrima Sillah before the full house of the National Assembly to reprimand him severely to apologize and henceforth exercise decorum and humility when in the National Assembly and sitting before NAMs otherwise face sanctions. National Assembly Members have powers under Section 75 of the Constitution to discipline or sack any Minister for violation of the Constitution, misconduct, or underperformance including for contempt of the National Assembly.

It is high time NAMs utilize their full powers and tools in the Constitution and the Standing Orders to discipline members of the Executive. The President and his Cabinet members should be individuals who always embody and manifest respect and humility simply because they hold public office. Public office is an honour because it is an opportunity to serve one’s people who pay you for that service anyway. Therefore, there is no space for arrogance and disrespect when you are holding public office.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


10959 Posts

Posted - 28 Jun 2022 :  22:45:46  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Sillah clashes with NAM over refusal to take oath
JUNE 28, 2022

By Tabora Bojang

Tension erupted in the National Assembly yesterday as new works minister and UDP Latrikunda NAM exchanged barbed comments following the minister’s refusal to take an oath before the select committee on monitoring of government projects.

Ebrima Silla led a team of officials from institutions under his purview to brief deputies on the status of ongoing public projects, including OIC roads.

In his address, Yaya Sanyang, who chairs the committee, reminded the officials that they will be required to take an oath before being allowed to address his committee, saying this is in line with the Standing Orders and the Constitution.

The minister however rejected this proposal and challenged the chairman to show him a section in the Standing Orders which stated that he should take an oath before being allowed to give a statement to the committee.

“I will not allow myself to come here to have a National Assembly member forced me to do something that is not constitutional,” the minister warned.

Sillah argued that he has taken an oath when assuming office as minister which obliges him to be truthful at all times.

“My position is still very clear. I have taken an oath as a minister and when I appear before the National Assembly, I am obliged to speak the truth, so I am not going to take an oath,” Sillah charged.

NAM Sanyang, who was visibly aggrieved, replied: “Honourable Minister, you are not getting my point. I have said in my opening remarks that every head of institution who is going to address this committee should take an oath. You are not going to take an oath if you are not giving testimony but if you are going to talk here, you must take an oath and if you don’t take the oath, I will call the sergeant of arms [parliamentary officers] to come and drive you out of this building.”

But Minister Sillah angrily countered: “This guy has to check who he thinks he is! You can go ahead and call your sergeant to drag me out and let us see. You don’t have decorum and you are not mature. On what basis will I take an oath? Our role here is to help this committee exercise its oversight functions. The PS is an officer of the state who has taken an oath before his appointment takes effect, a minister so the same thing. So, you expect us to come here and take another oath just because we want to interact with the National Assembly. Show me the section in the Standing Orders that states this.”

These heated exchanges spawned a commotion, with some lawmakers and other officials coming between the two and consoling the minister.

A motion was swiftly advanced by one of the NAMs which saw proceedings pause to calm down the tension in the building.

As the minister and the officials made their way for the cooling break, the minister was heard angrily saying: “You think we are here for a joke? What are you telling us? We have worked all our lives, 40 years all over the world and you want to put doubts in us. Where do you see a minister appear before a committee giving them evidence to help them do their work and you want me to take an oath? Let me put him in his right place. He must have decorum. He must behave himself as a member of the National Assembly. And you cannot even give me proof of that oath. Do you know what you are talking about? You think this is social media?”

Chairman Sanyang, who was adamant, cited that the constitution provides the committee with all the powers, rights and privileges that are vested in the high court in respect of enforcing the attendance of witnesses, examine the witness to oath to affirmation or otherwise.

He insisted that the minister was summoned to appear as a witnesses and give a statement on the status of projects under his ministry.

“You are not summoned here to appear as a minister of the state but as a witness,” Sanyang charged.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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10959 Posts

Posted - 29 Jun 2022 :  10:03:33  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By Sait Matty Jaw

In this country, I do not waste my time when politicians engage in their normal partisan Banta on WhatsApp audio or Facebook live...but when it involves our lives and the future of this country, our job collectively and individually is to put a stop to it. This country is bigger than all of us. No single individual must derail the agenda to transform the lives of the people. And such actions are nothing but distractions and a waste of public time and resources. And it must be confronted head-on.

What Hon. Sillah did at the National Assembly does not reflect the call for a new page that his government promised. A new page should involve improving relationships and not a power contest. Of course, his behavior is typical Gambian... man suma bopa yena yi mu daal ma.... one..time fass faraw yobu na ma gnaw contuwarr... si la baye tontu wante traffic police....
Hon. Sillah's action was a blatant disregard for authority. How does he expect others to respect his authority if this is the way he will disrespect others? Even if we have problems with people in the street, we must respect every one position and see it as part of the collective effort to push this country forward. We cannot bring personal issues into the national discourse, it's counter-productive.

The Committee Chair was right to implement the rules. If they were not doing it in the past or others are not doing it today, it should not mean others won't follow the law. Our duty is to follow the law and the set procedures.
But the question is why would a former Minister of information, one that is expected to understand the broader transformation taking place in this country would fail to notice the difference in NA this time around. I mean it's too early to praise the Assembly, but the hard fact is that they have no excuse not to do their job and do it right. Just think about the sanseh allowance.... But I agree with Hon. Suwaibou Touray before nga sanseh, sangul first...
The National Assembly of 2021 is not the National Assembly of 2022. Now, we have a body that is by law and status equal to the executive and have started well in its functions. They are given the mandate to make laws and oversight... Sillah's failure to update; himself on the laws and even parliamentary procedure is not o.nly shocking but sends a wrong signal on the "new agenda" that is set by his own government. Is this what we expect after the VP and even President Barrow promised a new phase? Is this the relationship that Minister Sillah is going to build with a committee that can help him make his job easy? By the way, I was following the committee sitting today with the VP and Interior Minister ...where I saw the VP pleading with the committee to give them time to do their work better and serve them with the needed information. If the VP can,... here we have a Minister that is supposed to be accountable to the people and is disrespecting the mandate of the people by failing to recognize the rules of procedures as established by the constitution and the standing orders. As a minister that is equally answerable to the National Assembly, Sillah must study and understand the rules governing NA proceedings. Hon. Sanynag's only crime was that he read too well what his duties are. His only responsibility was to implement the law and he did.

I still remember the nice words he said to parliament when they wanted to buy equipment for GRTS. What has changed? Is it because the committee chair is from his former party and main rival or is it just a lack of understanding of parliamentary proceedings and by extension his responsibility to the National Assembly? Either way, I was not happy.
People that are given the privilege and responsibility to serve the country must do so considering that they are speaking and working for all of us. If we allow our own leadership to disrespect our institutions, why even bother to talk about "never again."
This does not look good on Sillah nor on his boss President Barrow or even his other colleagues. Well, it is their responsibility to bring him in line as well. I hope Cabinet will develop a good working relationship with the National Assembly.
Sillah should not forget that he was all over-promising things just last year. Is not even up to a year and he seems to forget. Let it be clear. What is promised to the people must be delivered for the people.
Governing this country better is centered on giving parliament due respect. Accoring to our laws, the Minister is answerable to parliament and not the other way round.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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