By Flex Dan, @FlexDan_YT
The Islamic State declaration of The Gambia was challenged during a motion for the commemoration of every 15th day of Ramadan to be dedicated as National Orphans Day. The challenge took place during the National Assembly sitting on Wednesday 24th August 2016, chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the NA, Honorable Fatou Mbye. Minority Leader and NAM for Naimina Dankuku, Honorable Samba Jallow challenged the legality of The Gambia being referred to as an Islamic State.
Hon. Samba Jallow raised concerns after the motion was initiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs “for Gambia to recognise, celebrate and commemorate the 15th Day of Ramadan as National Orphans Day”. The Minority Leader stated that he was in support of the motion in principle, however his concerns were on the name and title of the document saying that “The Gambia shouldn’t be called an Islamic State, because there is no legislation passed yet to declare The Gambia as an Islamic state”. In light of this he requested that the name Islamic State should be removed from the document.
The Minority Leader reminded his peers of the 2016 State Opening of the National assembly, recalling that the President stated his intention to pass a legislation to declare The Gambia as an Islamic state, which is yet to be passed. According to him until such a motion is passed The Gambia still remains a secular state. He proceeded to quote from the constitution, highlighting that calling The Gambia an Islamic state contradicts the constitution and is a chargeable offence, as this is specifically guarded by an entrenched clause in the Constitution.
Hon. Samba Jallow re-echoed section one of the constitution which reads that “The Gambia is a Sovereign Secular Republic. Section 6 states that (1) any person who –
(a) by himself or herself or in concert with others, by any violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogates this Constitution or any part of it, or attempts to do any such act, or
(b) aids and abets in any manner any person referred to in paragraph (a) Commits the offence of treason and shall, on conviction, be liable to the penalty prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”
Inefficient Use of State Funds
Hon. Samba Jallow pointed out the necessity of calling this extraordinary motion as a matter of urgency, noting that the session could have waited until the National Assembly resumed in September. “I don’t think there is urgency in this motion, considering the expenses incurred in calling the whole National Assembly members for sittings” he argued. In reference to the 15th day of Ramadan he highlighted that some areas of the country begun fasting on different dates, asking how that would that be handled.
Tabling the motion before the law makers Neneh Macdouall Gaye stated that the celebration, proclamation and commemoration of Orphan’s Day is an initiative developed and proclaimed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), by a resolution adopted in the 40th Session of the OIC councils of Foreign Ministers, held in Guineau Conakry in 2013. “The issue and plight of orphans, worldwide, with particular emphasis on the plight of orphans in the Islamic Ummah is a matter of great concern to individuals, Governments, the international community and humanitarian organisations” she noted. In response the Issues raised by the Minority Leader, Madam Gaye noted that, the official date of any Islamic event is announced by the Supreme Islamic Council, which she in her opinion should serve as the official date that should be considered.
Rubber Stamping Continues
The motion was seconded by Hon. Bintanding Jarju, NAM for Foni Berefet, who stated that this was not a controversial motion. She underscored that the plight of orphans should be given special consideration and is long overdue, adding that Ramadan is a month of caring and sharing so therefore the day is very appropriate. “Orphans are very vulnerable in our societies and need attention and care, however The Gambia has been in the forefront in championing the course of the needy, particularly children”.
Hon. Kalifa Jammeh of Bakau noted that, the OIC member states who are privileged to have oil in their countries should try and dedicate specific resources for orphans. Hon. Muhammed Magassey, highlighted the need for more consideration for children whose parents are; serving jail terms; less privileged and equally vulnerable as orphans. The motion was eventually moved by the NAMs after Hon. Alhagie Sillah of Banjul North, Hon. Baboucarr Nyang of Banjul South, Hon. Bafaye Saidykhan of Jarra East, dilated and raised similar concerns for orphans.