By Landing Ceesay
The Gambia Bar Association President has said that the Minister for Lands, Local Government, and Religious Affairs said neither he nor the executive gave instruction for the deployment of the Police Intervention Unit [PIU] to Kanifing Municipal Council on Monday.
“As the President of the Bar Association of the Gambia and a member of CSO [Civil Society Organisation]. I took it upon myself to engage my colleague- John Charles Njie as head of Tango. I also called upon the Minister of Justice. I also called upon the Minister of Lands. So, in line with our duty as CSO, we thought it is important to get all the facts and ascertain them and do our utmost and contribute to resolving the problem in the interest of the nation, ensuring accountability, respect for rule of law and good governance.
“Our [CSO] first call was to the Minister [Musa S. Drammeh] in the morning, on short notice, he gave us an audience. In our engagement with the Minister, we raised the issue of PIU primarily, another issue, and he informed us that it was not his instruction or the executive’s instruction to deploy the PIU. Notwithstanding, we reminded and advised the Minister that whatever dispute it may be, in terms of who has what power between the ministry, the Public Service Commission, and the Council, that matter should resolve by the law and due process. That is our concern,” Salieu Taal disclosed at an emergency KMC meeting.
President Salieu Taal added that Minister Drammeh informed them that his ministry would continue to engage KMC based on the powers vested in them as per the local Government Act.
“We also reiterate our concerns thankfully when we came. We did not find any PIU officer, which was a kind of relief. We gathered that the tension has de-escalated. So we also expressed our concerns that we, as CSO, have been keenly following this issue. But we cannot make any comments or discuss the issue, until we have all the facts. All the facts on the public domain, we have actually got those, and we are looking at it. So we also sought the views and perspectives of the Mayor [Bensouda] and he gave us a very detailed explanation of his position and the council’s position. He also provided us with documentation,” Taal informed.
The Bar Association President made these remarks in his address during an emergency council meeting held on Monday, in the wake up of the Police Intervention Unit deployment to the council to ‘forcefully reinstall’ the suspended CEO accused of corruption; after the Council failed to reach a consensus on the matter with the Minister of Lands, Local Government and Religious Affairs.