Civil society organizations (CSOs) in The Gambia have recourse to the Supreme Court to stop the disbursement of a D54 million National Assembly’s self-catered loan. The CSOs have obtained, in a legal suit filed by Gambia Participates and the Centre for Research and Policy Development, that a motion for injunction be heard on 19th January, 2021. The Gambian civil society demands that the highest court of the land issue an order that prevent parliamentarians from pocketing the loan of D54.4 million they appropriated in the 2021 national spending.
Forwarding their case against the National Assembly, the two leading CSO groups, Gambia Participates and Centre for Research and Policy Development demand that the court issues “a declaration that the D54.4 million, included by the National Assembly in a budget line item, is in contravention of The Constitution and a violation of the Public Finance Act, 2014”.
In November 2020, less than two years before the end of their legislature, Gambian lawmakers triggered anger and fury from all sections in the country when they decided to fill their pockets from the approved annual estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year 2021. The parliamentarians decided that an amount of 54 million dalasis from the Gambian taxpayers will be a loan scheme they will use to build houses on plots of land given to them by the government of President Adama Barrow.
In the legal case against the National Assembly, the civil society organizations argue that for President Adama Barrow to gazette such a scheme, it is “an usurpation of his powers”. Gambia Participates and the Centre for Research and Policy Development therefore demand that the court deems it as such and declares it “a violation of the National Assembly standing orders”.
The CSOs further ask that the court issues an order “directing the Auditor General not to grant approval for the withdrawal of the sum of D54.4 million or any part of it” to be given to MPs or their services. They also request that the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs do not to pay from the loan of contention from the Consolidated Fund or any Fund of the government.
In fine, the Gambian Civil society organizations demand that the Supreme court abort and remove the write-up in the 2021 Appropriation Act authorizing the payment of the sum of D54.4 million as loan to the National Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly Service. They want the court “to restrain the Clerk of the National Assembly from raising warrants or preparing payment vouchers or any document that would facilitate the processing of the payment of the loan”.