by Madi Jobarteh
The right to protest is not a charity from the Gambia Government to the people of the Gambia. It is the fundamental right of the citizen guaranteed in the Constitution. The Constitution makes it clearly that this right cannot be denied but only restricted. Such restriction should be lawful, necessary in a democratic society and serving a legitimate purpose. Therefore, to grant a permit to protest to a group of citizens by restricting them to the bushes away from human life contrary to their request is absolutely in bad faith and not necessary neither is it legitimate. Hence Three Years Jotna must refuse this permit.
The Three Years Jotna leaders must rather demand a review of the permit immediately because that permit is as good as no permit. There is no justification why citizens cannot march into Banjul to protest or even protest inside Banjul. Banjul is the capital city and the seat of Government of the Gambia. Hence citizens who have disagreement with the Government have a right to manifest their disagreement peacefully inside Banjul as it happens in any democracy around the world. There is absolutely no security concern in Banjul since the President himself held a massive rally there less than a week ago without any incident!
To restrict a protest about the President from Sting Corner to 200 metres before Denton Bridge clearly shows that the intent of the permit and the Government is to deny the protest. Knowing full well that an outright denial will raise local and international outcry the IGP therefore decided to severely and maliciously undermine and disempower the protesters by confining the protest in the bushes under the hot sun and for a short space of time.
The IGP must not respond to the fundamental human rights of citizens with bad faith. The IGP must realise that in maintaining law and order he must not be seen shielding the Government away from the people. The IGP is not the defender of the President or the Government such that he can prevent citizens from holding the Government accountable. Rather the IGP must be seen to ensure that the space is free and safe for any citizen or group of citizens who wish to hold the President and members of his Government to account. Let us advise the IGP Alh. Mamour Jagne that he should not allow politicians to use him only to dump him when they are done with him like it was done to many IGPs before him! A word to the wise is enough!
Since 2017 there have been multiple instances when the IGP refused Gambians from holding local and central government institutions to account. This is not the role of the IGP. This is not the power that has been given to the IGP by the Public Order Act. But the IGP is deliberately violating the rights of citizens in total violation of the Constitution which is enough grounds to sack him from office. I hope Pres. Adama Barrow will take action to ensure that no public officer including the IGP and himself violate the rights of Gambians.
We opted for democracy in 2016 therefore we must have democracy in full and unfettered. To use technicalities and hide behind the law just to seize democracy must be confronted forthwith. To cunningly use state power to grant a right when the actual intention is to suppress rights must be exposed and confronted. This is what the IGP is doing with this malicious permit to Three Years Jotna People. Resist!
Fellow Gambians do not allow the State and any public officer to seize your rights unconstitutionally. The State has only one function which is to promote and protect and fulfil the rights of citizens. Hence any action by the State to damage, restrict or deny the rights of citizens without any basis in law must be resisted and rejected by citizens. The IGP is not the King of the Gambia. The Gambia is a Republic and only the people own sovereign power.
The IGP and the President are public servants who derive their authority and legitimacy from the people. Hence the President and the IGP must be confronted if they wish to deny, damage or restrict our rights unconstitutionally and unlawfully. The permit to Three Years Jotna is unlawful and an abuse of power that must be rejected.
For the Gambia Our Homeland