SPORTS MINISTRY OFFICIALS SQUEEZED over GNOC SAGA NSC ordered to retract statement
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Top officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports including its minister, Sheriff Gomez were yesterday summoned to the National Assembly Chambers in Banjul to retract their statements and the directive they issued following the National Assembly's ruling on the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) presidential election crisis.
The country's apex law making body described the said statements and directive challenging the ruling as a disrespect and contempt of the National Assembly. Following the premature abortion of the October 20 presidential election of the GNOC - necessitated by the conviction and sentencing of its former president, Langtombong Tamba on treason charges, the Youth and Sports Committee of the National Assembly was invited to investigate and finalise a legitimate voters' list - which had been one of the bone of contentions between the GNOC Executive Committee and the National Sports Council (NSC).
After series of meetings with the relevant parties including the NSC, that resulted in thorough findings, the National Assembly Select Committee on Youth and Sports, headed by Honourable Alhajie Sillah, finalised a new voters' list before announcing February 12, 2011 as the new date for the GNOC presidential election. While the decision of the National Assembly Select Committee was seen as the final breakthrough on the seemingly unending impasse, the saga presented itself again on Monday, January 24, when the NSC stepped up to contest the National Assembly Select Committee's ruling before advising the Ministry of Youth and Sports to set up a tribunal to review and endorse all decisions relating to the conduct of a free and fair GNOC election.
The abrupt move by the National Sports Council to challenge the decision of the nation's legislative house without any tangible reason appeared to have angered the law-makers who didn't waste time to summon the minister and his lieutenants to straighten up matters regarding the GNOC saga. At yesterday's gathering, the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Abdoulie Bojang, recalled when the approved report of the National Assembly Select Committee was dispatched as a press release to inform all stakeholders of the final decision.
However, Speaker Bojang said to their surprise, the Youth and Sports minister, Sheriff Gomez accompanied by the acting executive secretary of the NSC, Abdul Titao Mendy came to his office urging for a review of the decision taken by the Youth and Sports Select Committee of the National Assembly. The Speaker said this was followed by a letter written by the acting permanent secretary of Youth and Sports, Mr Aliew K Jammeh, on January 10, 2011 urging for a review of the report.
The clerk of the National Assembly, according to Speaker Bojang, accordingly replied to Mr Jammeh's letter on January 14, 2011 reiterating that the decision of the Select Committee is not subject to review or approval by any other authority, and that the ministry's non-compliance may tantamount to a contempt of the National Assembly as per provision of Section 102 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia. Through a copy of the same letter, the speaker added, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was once again reminded to fully comply with the National Assembly Select Committee to conduct the election as directed.
After the exchange of all these correspondences, the speaker said the Assembly had assumed the matter to be closed only to learn in the press release published in the press [Daily Observer Sports] that the NSC is protesting against their decision and directive, and that the minister should set up a tribunal to review the matter. Reacting to the NSC's January 23 press release written by its executive secretary, Abdul Titao Mendy under the directive of Minister Sheriff Gomez, Speaker Bojang said the National Assembly termed the press release and similar communications and directive from the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, permanent secretary of Youth and Sports and Abdul Titao Mendy of the NSC to be gently affronting and challenging the dignity, authority and integrity of the decision of the National Assembly, thus making them [the trio] liable for a blatant contempt of the National Assembly as per provision of Section 110 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia.
Accordingly therefore, the Speaker said: "The minister and the two officials concerned should receive an appropriate reprimand and admonition by the National Assembly. This is for the further consideration and adoption of the Honourable members present here." He added: "Thus based on the outcome of our deliberation and your level of remorse of the said offence, the Assembly will determine the necessary further steps to be taken on the subject matter." The Speaker rounded up by reaffirming that the decision and directive of the National Assembly Select Committee remain, before ordering the NSC to immediately retract its January 23 press release. The Speaker also asked the Youth and Sports minister and his permanent secretary to write formally and apologise to the National Assembly within 24 hours.
For his part, Honourable Tombong Jatta, the Majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda Central, said the gathering was no session for debate, nor were they looking into the integrity of the decision of the National Assembly Committee on Youth and Sports. Describing the action of the Youth and Sports Ministry as an insult to the National Assembly, Honourable Jatta said he expects public officials to respect the National Assembly as an oversight institution and legislative house that supports the interest of Gambian people.
He expressed shock at the ministry's move to challenge the decision of the National Assembly Select Committee despite a clarification from the clerk of the Assembly that the decision is not subject to any approval or review by any authority. He added: "The permanent secretary wrote a letter which was aptly replied to by the clerk of the Assembly, stating categorically that the decision of the Select Committee is not subject to any approval or review. "Therefore, it's our collective belief that the National Sports Council are in contempt of the National Assembly. It's regretted that people of high standing will try to bring the National Assembly into disrepute."
Author: by Nanama Keita