By Landing Ceesay
The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Gambia, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, has suspended the consideration of the Anti-corruption Bill due to inconsistencies between the 2019 and 2022 versions.
The most talked about Anti-Corruption Bill was due for consideration before the National Assembly. However, the consideration of the Bill could not proceed due to inconsistencies in the versions of the Bill provided by the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice provided 3 versions of the bill. The Anti-Corruption Bill 2022, and two different versions of the Anti-Corruption Bill 2019. All of these versions have slight differences in context.
The Speaker of the National told the National Assembly Members (NAMs) that there are two copies of the Anti-Corruption Bill before them, in that there is the Anti Corruption Bill 2019 and Anti Corruption Bill 2022, with slight differences in their context. The Members of the National Assembly informed the Speaker that they will take up the Anti-Corruption Bill 2022 instead of the Anti-Corruption Bill 2019.
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The Speaker then requested for the National Assembly Members (NAMs) to be served with the Anti-Corruption Bill 2019. The NAMs were served with the 2019 version. However, the 2019 version that the NAMs were served with, the 2019 version the Speaker had, and the 2022 version are not congruent.
When a clause is read by the Clerk for consideration, what the NAMs have on the copy handed to them and what the Speaker had in hand were not the same even though it is the same Anti Corruption Bill 2019.
Hon. Dawda A Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, told the NAMs that the Anti Corruption Bill 2022 captured the recommendation of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) under the fifth Legislature.
Nominated Member Hon. Kebba Lang Fofana told the Speaker that the current FPAC under the sixth legislature had never sat on the Bill to discuss it, and it will be helpful if they sat on the Bill and discussed it, to help them understand it better.
In response to Hon. Fofana, the Speaker of the house said it is not necessary for the current FPAC under the sixth legislature to discuss it since the previous one under the fifth Legislature already did and submitted a report on it, prompting the National Assembly Members to requested for the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice to make necessary adjustments to ensure that both the Anti-Corruption Bill 2019 and Anti Corruption Bill 2022 are the same.
The Speaker then suspended the consideration of the Bill and asked the Attorney General to make necessary adjustments and ensure that both versions are the same.
If enacted, the Acts seek to repeal the Gambia Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2012; and, among other things, seeks to prohibit and prescribe punishment for corruption and other related offences. The Act will establish the Anti-Corruption Commission, vesting it with the responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of offenders. The Act will also provide the legal framework to guide the fight against corruption and economic crimes in the Gambia.
The Act will provide for a number of strategies to be employed in the fight against corruption. This includes Investigation, Prosecution, Prevention and asset recovery and also provides for the protection of a person who gives information to the commission in respect of an offence committed or likely to be committed by any other person.