May 30, 2016, 11:54 AM
GMC demands the immediate, unconditional release of Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, the Khaliph General of Darsilami Sangajor and BuyehTouray, the Alkalo of the same village in Foni Kansala District, West Coast Region.
They have been arrested and detained since Tuesday, 29th July, 2014 and moved to different police stations for having observed Eid prayer on Tuesday and not Monday as announced by the Supreme Islamic Council.
The arrest and detention of both men violate their fundamental constitutional liberties.
The Supreme Islamic Council is not a creature of statute, nor is it funded from the Consolidate Fund.
It has no statutory powers to police Islamic religious practice in any part of The Gambia, and has no corporate legal jurisdiction over Muslims in The Gambia. Its rules and principles are enforceable (if at all) exclusively over its private members who do not legally represent any political, religious or social constituency in The Gambia, except themselves.
There is no law enacted by The Gambia’s Parliament at any material time that confers the extraordinary police and judicial powers being illegally exercised by the Supreme Islamic Council.
Equally, a mere Presidential declaration or statement may have the force of policy (if at all) and not that of law.
Assuming without conceding it was a policy statement or directive, it is subject to the over-riding protective provisions of the Constitution. The words of the President cannot override, amend or substitute any legal provision, and in this instance, at best it amounted to a ‘wish’.
The Executive, and all implementation organs and agencies of the State ought to appreciate the distinction between policy and a directive; law and policy; declarations and statements; directive and law.
The President’s statement banning Eid prayers on Tuesday the 29th July 2014 does not amount to law, and therefore unqualified to carry the force of law. Law is not made by mere verbal declarations.
It is legislated by the only constitutionally competent Body, and in The Gambia that power is exercised by no person or authority except the National Assembly.
Even the National Assembly cannot interfere with the right of religious practice, an entrenched provision of the Constitution.
The statement itself is a travesty of the law, because the President has no powers under the Constitution to issue such an order under the circumstances. It is ultra vires.
We urge the authorities to release the duo on the grounds that they have not breached any law in The Gambia, while their continuous detention constitutes an act of Executive lawlessness.
Those who swore an Oath to protect and to defend the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia, should not be found wanting in its application.
Release the Imam and the Alkalo NOW with an apology and a compensation. Its the only legal and right thing to do.
Lastly, the Supreme Islamic Council should mind its business, confine its reach to its private members, and stop inter-meddling in Islamic religious affairs in the country.
They should exculpate themselves of the horrendous stain besmearing its face.
Press statement issued by Mai Ahmad Fatty GMC Party Leader