How time is computed under the law is still a matter of concern and this should be properly interpreted by legal minds and applied consistently to hand all situations where the materiality of time is of essence. We will ignore this element and leave it to the Executive, The Legislature and the Judiciary to interrogate as the Nation grapples with time bound  developments.

The key issue is the new state of public emergency that has been declared by President Barrow on 19th May 2019.

A Proclamation does not have legal effect unless it is published in the Gazette. Foroyaa had to search for the Gazette issuing the proclamation to confirm the existence of a State of Emergency.

According to Gambia Gazette 28 Volume 137 of 19th May 2020, G.N. No. 82/2020, a proclamation is issued which ended with the following recital:

“Whereas by Section 34(5)of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia the National Assembly is empowered to extend the period of the State of Public Emergency for up to ninety ; And

Whereas The National Assembly failed to act on the powers conferred to it by Section 34(5) of the Constitution to extend the State of Public Emergency in order to contain and manage the spread of COVID 19 in the Gambia,

Now Therefore, I Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, in the exercise of powers conferred on me by Section 34 (1)(a) of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia , declare that a state of public emergency continues to exist in the whole of the Gambia  with effect of 19th May 2020 for a period of twenty one days.” 

Hence, it is now as clear as noon day that the proclamation should not go along with any issuance of measures to be taken during a state of public emergency. The proclamation is just an utterance to indicate that a state of public emergency exists.

It is Section 35 of the Constitution which provides for an Act to be enacted to provide the powers to take measures that are reasonable and justifiable to deal with the public emergency and in this instance, COVID-19.

Currently, the Emergency Powers Act provides for measures to be taken during a state of Public Emergency. The President is empowered to make regulations which are to be enforced to deal with the emergency.

The regulation expires with the lapsing of the declaration of a state of emergency or its extension through resolution. Since the State of Emergency of 26th March, as extended by resolution passed on 3rd April has lapsed, while the National Assembly is not sitting, the new declaration must have accompanying regulations published in the Gazette.

Foroyaa promises to find out what the regulations are to assist our readers to know the content.