By: Kebba AF Touray
The Gambia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Dawda Jallow, on Monday February 14, 2022, apologised to the National Assembly for his absence last week Tuesday, which he said does not signify any sign of disrespect to the august body.
The minister’s failure to attend the Tuesday sitting compelled the national assembly to adjourn its sitting which would have witnessed the consideration of bills that are under his responsibility.
His absence also compelled the Speaker, Mariam Jack Denton, to assign the Assembly Business Committee (ABC) to convene an emergency meeting to review the conduct of the minister, in line with the constitution and the Standing Orders of the Assembly for appropriate advice to the assembly.
The ABC, upon reviewing the various relevant provisions of the 1997 constitution and the Standing Orders of the Assembly, observed the possibility to pass a vote of censure against a Minister (under section 75 of the constitution) or cite him for contempt of the assembly under section 110 of the constitution.
Minister Jallow told the parliament that his absence on the scheduled date was clearly unintentional and he deeply regretted the inconvenience that it has caused the assembly.
“I would also like to add that it does not signify any sign of disrespect to this august body. I urge the National Assembly Members, the Honourable Speaker and the office of the Clerk to accept my apology,” Minister Jallow said.
The ABC, however, decided that all the pending businesses of the Justice Minister dealing with bills be written off from the current agenda of the first ordinary session 2022, since there might not be adequate time to complete the legislative process of the said bills within the period the Minister will be available, as communicated in the Ministry’s second letter to the assembly.
Speaker Jack Denton cautioned that a Minister must be present at any meeting or engagement scheduled with the assembly in line with section 77(4) of the 1997 constitution.
“It is hereby strongly communicated to the Justice Minister and other cabinet ministers that the assembly will not condone repetitive failure to attend to businesses under a minister’s charge,” she said.