Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe & Kexx Sanneh File Case at Supreme Court

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By Yankuba Jallow

Senior Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe, the Coalition of Progressive Gambians and Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx Sanneh) have instituted a case at the Supreme Court of The Gambia challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Act of 2023.

The case is against the Attorney General and the Clerk of the National Assembly. The Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Act was passed by the National Assembly on the 2nd of September 2023. It gives the President the power to issue amnesty to persons banned from holding public office by a Commission of Inquiry.

The three plaintiffs, who are Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe, the Coalition of Progressive Gambians and Kexx Sanneh, want the Supreme Court to make a declaration that sections 19, 20 and 21 of the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment Act) 2023, are in direct conflict with sections 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, and 206 of the Constitution of Republic of The Gambia. The argument they are putting up is that the three sections they are challenging were made in excess of legislative authority (powers). They asked the court to declare them null, void, and of no effect. In excess of legislative powers here means the National Assembly lacks power to pass such laws and the basis the three Plaintiffs used is the provision of the 1997 Constitution mentioned above (sections 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205 and 206).

They want the Supreme Court to strike out Sections 19, 20 and 21 of the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Act of 2023.

Section 200 of the Constitution gives the President power to establish a commission of inquiry whenever he deems it advisable to inquire into the conduct of any public officer, the conduct of any district chief or alkalo; the conduct or management of any department or authority of the public service or any local government authority or public enterprise; or any matter arising in The Gambia in which an inquiry would be in public good.

Section 201 deals with the appointment of Commissioners and Chairperson of a Commission of Inquiry. Section 202 deals with the functions and the powers of a Commission of Inquiry including making a full and impartial investigation into an issue or matter which the Commission is established to investigate and prepare a report on the results of the inquiry. This provision gives the Commission powers and privileges of the high court.

Section 203 deals with the publication of the Commission’s report. Section 204 is about Adverse Findings and Section 205 deals with Immunity of Witnesses. Section 206 gives the National Assembly powers to make further provisions for the purposes of the Chapter on Commissions of Inquiry in the Constitution, including the rules of procedure and practice.