By Omar Wally
Journalist Fatou Camara and online activists such as Sidi Sanneh, Banka Manneh, Madi Jobarteh and Pa Samba Jow, have denied allegations of instigating the #Occupy Westfield group and using Alieu Bah as a front.
A message has been circulating on the social media, accusing the earlier mentioned five Gambians of triggering the youths to protest against the Barrow government in the wake of the lack of adequate electricity and water supply in the country.
The message also stated that #Occupy Westfield was a harbinger of things to come. The plan was, when this first operations succeeds, Occupy Westfield would organise a rebellion against the Barrow government to enforce a three-year term MoU in two years, the message claimed.
The Standard newspaper spoke to the five and asked if what they are accused of is true. This is what they had to say.
Fatou Camara: “I have heard it all, so I am no longer bothered. Does it make sense having both parents in a country and a ten-year-old son and you don’t wish that country well? This is just another fabrication. I am still wondering who they are trying to report me to. First, they said I am in touch with Jammeh and his entourage after circulating fake WhatsApp messages,. Then they said I hated the administration that I helped put in place alongside many other, and now it’s this allegation. Well, I can tell you that many more will come. They did the same to Jammeh, misleading him completely about me, so this is nothing new. It is like, each time they want attention or feel threatened by my presence, they resort to fabrication to make themselves look good.”
Sidi Sanneh said: “At the risk of dignifying such vile allegations against such fine citizens of The Gambia, who have spent years of their lives fighting one of Africa’s most brutal and corrupt dictatorship, I’d say the charges by a handful of political hacks are spurious, hate-filled and clearly politically driven.”
Banka Manneh said: “It’s totally false. I became aware of #OccupyWestfield when I read about it on Facebook just like everyone else. In fact, I didn’t comment on the issue for a while since I wasn’t familiar with what it was all about. This is the new Gambia and what that means is that people are free to legally express themselves. These are exciting times for our democracy, but one of the ways we can erase all the hard-fought gains is to continue to peddle such rumours in an effort to sow seeds of hatred and discord in the population.
“The political leaders must address their followers and sensitise them about the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.
This message you alluded to came from UDP militants who are bent on giving that party and its leaders a bad name. They are going around insulting anyone who even expresses disagreement with our government. As it also turns out, none of these people involved in such evil behaviour said a word when folks were fighting vigorously against Jammeh and his henchmen. We currently have a fascist/KKK type movement harassing innocent Gambians simply because of their political views and this must stop, it will not be tolerated.”
Madi Jobarteh said he is not associated with #Occupy Westfield, adding that he saw it on Facebook, “like everyone else” and he was not even sure, if he would have joined the protest.
“My issue was not the objective; what generated my reaction was that they were denied permit. It’s a matter of principle that people have to have the right to protest and that is what I’m concerned about.
“Their objective, is it right and timely, appropriate or not appropriate? I don’t know, but any Gambian who feels you want to protest against any issue in the country, you should have right to protest. To say I am part of it, I support their protest, I will be very proud to be part of it. What they are doing is legal, legitimate, democratic and we should not allow anyone to demonise or criminalise individuals.”
Pa Samba Jow said: “The story is a total fabrication. It is quite pathetic that people are resorting to distortions of the highest level to discredit other Gambians. In all my activism work, which spans nearly three decades, I have never shied away from my actions. If I was the one behind the #OccupyWestfield, the whole world would know about it. In as much as I support the rights of #OccupyWestfield group to protest, I am not behind it. The democracy that we fought for is not meant to deny any citizen their fundamental human and constitutional rights, and a right to protest is an entrenched right that should not be subverted based on flimsy excuses. “