May 7, 2021, 11:00 AM
Mrs. Fatou Jagne-Senghore, of Article 19 and a seasoned human rights activist appeared before the TRRC to help the Commission in its findings from the NGO perspective.
Speaking to The Point, the GMC leader revealed that the right is specific and exclusive because its exercise is predicated on citizenship and proof thereof. “To enjoy this right, one must square him/herself within the prescriptions demarcated by law - the Constitution.”
“Obtaining a voter's card is presumptive of citizenship leading to the exercise of an exclusive right, although the card ipso facto is not evidence of citizenship. It is an incident of citizenship.”
“One is so entitled only upon satisfactory production of citizenship foundation documents such as a birth certificate, National ID card, etc,” he pointed out.
He said the Elections Act provides for an attestation to replace all of these documents of nationality where none could be produced; and it did so without adequate safeguards against potential abuse.
“The emerging controversy that needs to be resolved is that: does a chief/alkalo supported by five unidentified, indescribable elders possess sufficient authority in law, to confer Gambian citizenship or prove thereof? Should a mere unsworn paper attestation serve as evidence of nationality for purposes of acquiring and exercising "the" most important exclusive citizenship right? To my mind, the answer is in the negative. The absence of punitive penal sanctions against the attestors is troublesome,” he noted.
“Having further thoroughly accorded the matter due considerations, I am of the considered view that attestation is in fact unconstitutional and therefore ultra vires. It is a subordinate invention that was permitted to survive by practice,” he continued.
“Wrong does not become right by virtue of long practice or acceptance. Wrong is wrong even if widely accepted or tolerated. An unlawful act does not attain legality by virtue of its durability or acceptance. Its wide use in the past or acceptance cannot grant it a superior status of propriety,” he opined.
“Attestation seeks to perform a dual function: as document of national identification for voter registration and evidence of nationality. It was wrong ab initio and remains so regardless of its undeserved acceptability and pervase utility. It should be litigated.”
Adhering to The Gambia National Development Plan (NDP) to promote cultural heritages, the National Centre for Arts and Culture under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has disclosed its intention to develop the long abandoned Mungo Park Memorial Park in Karantaba and its earmarked environment.
Ousman Sowe, the director general of the country’s State Intelligence Service (SIS) recently delivered a lecture for visiting Nigerian Military Personnel on Covid-19 and its implications.