QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is the Armed Forces Act Supreme than the Constitution?
The detention of members of the armed forces for more than 72 hours has been a source of concern. Impunity is what isolated the Jammeh administration. A reoccurrence must be avoided. Despite many arrests on security grounds, it is the vote which eventually led to the change of Government. A Government is only fit to govern if it governs according to the Law.
Some officials have claimed that the detention after 72 hours is permissible under the Armed Forces Act.
This notion has no basis in Law and the Attorney General should be consulted to clear the air. Section 4 of the Constitution asserts the Supremacy of the Constitution as follows: “This constitution is the supreme Law of The Gambia and any other Law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
Furthermore Section 5 adds:
“A person who alleges that-
(a) any Act of the National Assembly or anything done under the authority of an Act of the National Assembly, or
(1) any Act or omission of any person or authority, is inconsistent with; or is in contravention of a provision of this constitution, may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction for a declaration to that effect.
(2) The court may make orders and give directions as it may considered appropriate for given, to such a declaration and any person to whom any order or direction is addressed shall duly obey and carry out the terms of the order or direction.
(3) The failure to obey or carry out any order made or direction given under subsection (2) shall constitute the offence of violating the Constitution and
(a)shall, in the case of the President or Vice President, constitute a ground for his or her removal from office in accordance with section 67; and
(b)any other person who is convicted of that office shall be liable to the penalty prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”