23 January 2013

Gambia: Could a Person Be a Staff of the NIA and a National Assembly Member At the Same Time? Readers Asked After Reading Captain Lamin Saine's Contribution At the National Assembly

After reading Captain Lamin Saine's contribution at the National Assembly, many readers approached Foroyaa to ask whether one is allowed by the Constitution to be a soldier, Police Officer or Member of NIA and still be elected or nominated to be a member of the National Assembly. This is a very interesting observation that we often neglect.

We remember listening to GRTS and heard an announcement of the nomination of a Chief being nominated as a National Assembly Member. This contravened Section 90 subsection (1)(k) of the Constitution which is applicable to nominated members by virtue of section 90 subsection (3) of the Constitution.

In the same vein, Section 90 subsection (1)(i) states that, a person shall not be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if he or she "is a member of a disciplined force." A member of a disciplined force is defined under Section 230 to mean the police force, the prison service and the armed forces. Since under subsection (3) this provision is applicable to nominated members we categorically can state that no member of a disciplined force could be elected or nominated as a member of the National Assembly while in active service.

Section 90 subsection (1)(g) is also applicable to both elected and nominated members of the National Assembly. It states that a person shall not be qualified to be a member of the National Assembly "unless granted leave of absence if he or she holds a public office or an office in the public service."

Public office is one whose occupant derives remuneration from the consolidated fund or moneys provided by an Act of the National Assembly. Anybody working as an Officer of the NIA is holding Public Office.

Consultation should therefore begin between the Ministry of Justice, the office of the President and Captain Saine to examine the Constitutionality of holding the post of member of the National Assembly and Deputy Director of the NIA at the same time. Section 91 subsection (1)(b) of the Constitution asserts that:

"A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly subject to subsection (2), if any circumstances arise which, if he or she were not a member, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election as a member or nomination as a member."

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