Monday, July 22, 2024

Court Rules in Favor of West Coast Governor; BAC Vows to Appeal

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By: Mama A. Touray

Shortly after Justice Mohammed Lekan Owolabi of the Brikama High Court ruled in favor of the Governor of the West Coast Region regarding the allocation of the new market in Brikama, the Brikama Area Council, through Chairman Yankuba Darboe, reacted to the ruling and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court of The Gambia.

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Initially, Justice Owolabi ruled that the Governor’s market allocation committee was not a judicial authority and that his court lacked jurisdiction to deal with what he concluded was a purely administrative and executive decision. He added that while the functions of local governments under the Local Government Act 2002 include establishing, erecting, controlling, maintaining, and promoting markets, the Central Government, through the Governor, can also exercise these functions as part of its broader responsibilities to regulate trade and commerce.

Reacting to the judgment, Chairman Darboe expressed disappointment in the court’s decision and confirmed their intention to appeal the case to both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court for a final verdict. He argued that instead of providing clarity and distinction between the functions of the council and those of the central government, “the court’s judgment has, in fact, further blurred the lines regarding the distinctions in functions that existed or should have existed between local governments and the central government, as clearly outlined in the Local Government Act 2002.”

“If the Central Government is now mandated to build and manage markets just as councils do,” Chairman Darboe continued, “then it should also be responsible for cleaning those markets. Furthermore, it implies that the Central Government should allocate budgets for market construction, as both entities are mandated to construct them. This means citizens cannot expect only the councils to build and manage markets for them.”

Darboe further argued that allowing the Central Government to assume the functions of the council, as stated in the judgment, would undermine constitutional provisions under Section 193, which stipulate that councils should maintain a high degree of autonomy from the Central Government. He emphasized that the constitutional objective could not be achieved if the Central Government is obligated to perform the same functions as the councils, noting that this was precisely why separate functions for the Central Government and Local Government were outlined in the Local Government Act 2002.

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