A constitution is the supreme law of the land. It should guide the conduct of those who represent a people and those who are represented. Neither the President, nor the Ministers, the National Assembly members, those who elect them or cause them to be appointed are above the Constitution.
When the Constitution says under section 19 that anybody who is arrested and is not released within 72 hours should be taken before a court, that is exactly what must be done, otherwise the person should be released on bail. That is the inviolable command of the Constitution and no authority in The Gambia or person should speak or do the contrary. Anybody, who violates the law, should simply be taken to court for action.
The problem of The Gambia is that civil society and commissions are speaking louder than institutions established by the Constitution to safeguard the dictates of the Constitution and the integrity of the sovereignty of the people.
First and foremost, the system of constitutional rule cannot be real unless all the citizens accept to oppose and defend the values of the Constitution. The right to life is a fundamental right that must be upheld and defended by every citizen and state institutions. Hence if anyone takes a gun and shoots two police officers to death, the whole nation should speak with one voice and act in good faith so that the truth is known and justice done and recurrence prevented in the public interest. This is the type of behaviour that makes everyone secure. A contrary behaviour in words and deed will only bring insecurity, distrust and bad conduct from those who represent and are represented.
No society can endure harmony with such misconduct. Those who are guilty of misconduct could point accusing fingers at one another but will only succeed in provoking each other to engage in wrangling without end. Furthermore, the Constitution calls on the courts to be the fundamental defender of rights and freedom. It in fact sets it as the primary role of the high court to receive any complaints of the violation of fundamental rights.
Hence if anybody is detained for more than 72 hours or is arrested without any grounds of being suspected of committing or about to committing any crime the whole nation should act together. The person has every right to take the matter before the high court for redress and the whole nation should stand vigil to wait for the outcome of the decision of the court to determine whether justice is done and seen to be done.
We the owners of power matter and we must not be held hostage by anyone in power, in the opposition or in civil society. We all should desire to work for and talk to each other to build the society that is fit for us to live in.