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The IGP cannot stop occupy Brikama Area Council!

Madi Jobarteh is a Gambian human rights activist

The Gambia Police Force must be informed that they have no authority to deny citizens from holding public institutions and public officials accountable. Brikama Area Council is a public institution and the Governor, Chairperson, Councillors and Staffs of Brikama Area Council are public servants. For that matter any resident of West Coast Region who feels dissatisfied by the performance of the Brikama Area Council has a right to express himself or herself or protest or go to court to address his or her grievance.

The right to freedom of expression, assembly, association and petition are entrenched clauses guaranteed in our Constitution. Hence residents of West Coast Region have a right to protest against the Area Council and indeed about any issue in their region. The Gambia Police Force must not prevent residents from holding the Area Council accountable.

It is clear that Brikama Area Council has failed to deliver adequate, quality and efficient public goods and services to the people of West Coast Region. For example, the poor hygiene conditions in markets across the region and the poor roads as well as the limited utility services provided by the Council deserves public outcry. The Brikama Area Council has not been transparent to the people of West Coast Region by telling them the amount of revenue it collects and how much it invests back to the people. Hence the people of West Coast Region have a right to protest against the leadership and management of Brikama Area Council.

The Gambia Police Force and the IGP in particular have no authority whatsoever to deny the people to hold their elected and appointed public officials accountable. What is expected of the IGP is to provide the necessary security for the protesters and other citizens so that there is peace and order. But the IGP has no reason whatsoever to prevent citizens from protesting. There is no security situation in any part of the Gambia such that protests cannot take place in any part of the Gambia. If so, let the IGP say it loud and clear.

I urge the people of West Coast Region to totally ignore the IGP and continue with their protest with or without a permit. It is your constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully! Let the IGP arrest all of West Coast Region and see what the rest of Gambia citizens will do.

In fact, according to the Public Order Act, it is not the IGFP who should grant a permit for protests in the regions. Section 5 stipulates that it is the Governor of the Region to do so. Therefore, withdraw your application from the IGP because he has no authority to grant permit for a demonstration outside of the Banjul City and Kanifing Municipality. Therefore, ignore any denial posed by the IGP!

I wish to put it to the IGP Alagie Mamour Jobe that he does not own West Coast Region neither Brikama Area Council and certainly he does not own the people of the Gambia such that he would arrogate to himself the power to determine what citizens can do or cannot do. Alagie Mamour Jobe is just a mere appointed public servant who is mandated to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia which has guaranteed the rights of Gambians. Hence Alagie Mamour Jobe has no power or authority in anyway to flout our Constitution and our sovereign rights.

Therefore, let IGP Alagie Mamour Jobe and the Gambia Police Force not injure our democracy and undermine good governance. The Gambia Police Force must not disregard our Constitution rather it must be seen to uphold and enforce the Constitution. That is the only job for the Gambia Police Force. By denying citizens to protest so that they can hold public institutions accountable it means IGP Alagie Mamour Jobe is covering up, aiding and abetting abuse, corruption and waste by our public institutions. This is unacceptable.

We, The Citizens, must not ever again allow any public institution or public official to abuse our rights and flout our Constitution. This country belongs to citizens and not to the President or the IGP or the Governor or the Chairperson. These elected and appointed public servants must be seen to protect the rights of citizens as specified in our Constitution. The Constitution has guaranteed our rights and we must not allow any so-called public official to deny us that right. We have a right to protest and the Gambia Government has a duty to protect that right and not to stop it.

I hereby warn the IGP to desist from any action that will harm the rights and the person of those protesters. I hereby warn the IGP to give full protection to the protesters and other citizens who are not part of the protest. If the IGP arrests anyone for protesting that will constitute unlawful arrest for which I and like-minded citizens will sue the IGP. The time has come for citizens to take up their citizenship duty as per the Constitution. No to Dictatorship.

For the Gambia Our Homeland

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