Individual officers cannot be summoned to Parliamentary committees: Former Chief Justice

Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi
Former Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi. | Photo: Dhuvas.Mv

Malé, Maldives – Former Chief Justice of Maldives, Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi has stated that individual officers cannot be summoned to Parliamentary committees.

Dr. Didi stated this at a time the National Security Services Committee’s (241 Committee) has requested for individual officers to be summoned to a parliamentary inquiry regarding the breach in security which resulted in an assassination attempt on Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed on May 6, 2021.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) had denied this request in a statement yesterday stating that the institution would be answering on behalf of individual officers resulting in high tensions regarding the matter with a number of 241 committee members, who claim that the statement obstructs the inquiry.

After MNDF’s statement was publicized, Didi tweeted that looking at Article 98, 99, 239 and 242 of the Maldivian Constitution, he does not believe individual officers can be summoned to Parliamentary committees.

The Minister in charge will answer to Parliament, if the Minister’s position is vacant, then the Chief of Defence Force [will answer to Parliament].

Former Chief Justice of Maldives, Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi

He also noted that looking at the Parliaments Counsel General’s advice given on July 5, 2010, this should be apparent to the 241 committee.

In the statement by MNDF released yesterday, they had said that while the Maldivian Parliament and its Committees can summon any individual or organizations to testify or demand any required documents, that the military does not fall under this categories and that no individual officer could be summoned and questioned. 

MNDF stated that all defense operations are required to be overseen by a member of the cabinet of ministers and that the minister in charge of a specific operation must answer to the President or Parliament, questioning individual personnel regarding their operations contradicts the MNDF military hierarchy, chain of command, command and control and policies followed within the organisation for generations.

The 241 committee is currently investigating the breach in security which resulted in an assassination attempt on Nasheed on the 7th of May, in which he suffered multiple serious injuries.

The statement went on to claim that ” Due to this, the national defence force and its various subordinate echelon have lost their command and control, and has resulted in major setbacks in carrying out their duties, and could result in irreparable damage to national security”.

MNDF also noted that this was decided by advice from the MNDF Advisory Board.

MNDF noted that issuing any information obtained in the line of duty to anyone other than those specified in the MNDF is outlawed. In addition to this, MNDF laws prevent an individual officer from conversing with various parties about such information without approval from a commander .

“Subsequently, to maintain command and control as well as chain of command policies, instead of individual officers answering regarding their duties, this organisation will respond” said the statement.

The statement ended with an affirmation that MNDF will provide any information requested by the Maldivian Parliament and its Committees regarding any ongoing investigation.

Speaker Nasheed still remains in Germany after he was released from the German medical hospital on May 21, where he went for recovery and rehabilitation for the injuries suffered in the May 6, 2021 assassination attempt on him. According to his family, he will remain in Germany for a month before returning back to Maldives. 

Speaker Nasheed was treated at the Critical Care Unit of ADK hospital in Malé until he was airlifted to Germany on May 13, 2021 for recovery and rehabilitation. Parliament had previously revealed that Speaker Nasheed’s medical expenses in Germany is being covered by Honorary Consul of Maldives in Germany, Christian Von Stetten.

The IED explosion went off around 20:20 on 6 May leaving Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed critically injured while he was getting in to his car near his house, G. Kenereege, Malé City. In addition to him, 3 more people were also been reported to be injured from the explosion including the Speaker’s bodyguards and bystanders.

Nasheed was brought in with heavy bleeding, and both internal and external shrapnel injuries. Ball bearings were found in Nasheed’s chest, near the heart. Injuries caused by these projectiles caused life threatening damage to the chest area. Nasheed endured major injury to the fourth rib, with a blade going through a lung. A projectile also went through his intestine with another near his liver.