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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Activists react to unbanning of ex-Jammeh officials

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By Omar Bah

Human rights activists and anti-corruption crusaders Pa Samba Jow, Jeggan Grey Johnson and Marr Nyang, have strongly condemned President Adama Barrow’s decision to pardon Momodou Sabally, Njogu Bah, Amadou Colley, Sirra Wally Ndow and her husband, Basiru Njie.

In 2021, the Gambia government accepted the recommendations of the Janneh Commission to bar Momodou Sabally and Njogu Bah, former Secretary Generals and head of the Civil Service, Amadou Colley, former Central Bank Governor, Sirra Wally Ndow and her husband, Basiru Njie from holding public office or being appointed as directors of any state-owned enterprise for their roles in aiding and abetting former President Jammeh in corruption, theft, and economic crimes.

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Sabally and Bah were handed a lifetime ban from holding public offices while Amadou Colley was banned for 10 years.

Reacting to the news in a Standard exclusive, human rights defender, Jeggan Grey Johson said: “The pardoning is arbitrary and the process as well as the reason behind the selected few being granted amnesty by the president is non transparent and may in itself be viewed as corrupt- which would be ironic given that this was about alleged abuse and theft of state resources by civil servants.”

Johson said the decision also signals to the world that the Janneh Commission was just a gimmick designed to fool the public into thinking that Barrow and his administration were serious about fighting corruption and abuse of state resources.

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“They have demonstrated that they are unwilling and incapable of abiding by the Janneh Commission’s recommendations and are now determined to continue defy the calls for reforms, and entrench the shameful practices of Tenderpreneurship, and interference in public procurement processes. In essence President Barrow is sending a clear message that he does not care about reforms. Nor does he care about public accountability and that is sad and worrying for the future,” he said.

Renowned social commentator, Pa Samba Jow, said: “The Barrow administration is a transactional government that will do anything that benefits its party, NPP, and perpetuates its stay in power. Nothing that the president does surprises me, including this ‘irresponsible’ move.

“When I saw the bill seeking to give powers to the president to unban people sanctioned by commissions inquiry, the so-called ‘Commission Inquiry Amendment Bill’, I had dubbed it as the Momodou Sabally and Njogu Bah bill, precisely because the objective was never about what benefits The Gambia, but what benefits the NPP politically. We all know that Njogu was on the campaign trail for the NPP, and of course, had to be rewarded. It is also true that the only way of luring Sabally to the NPP was through this scheme. I can say without fear of exaggeration that there was no due process in the lifting of the ban of these people who were found wanting for allegedly aiding and abetting Jammeh’s robbery of our country’s meager resources. I therefore, challenge the president and the government to disclose the process that they engaged in to come to this conclusion,” he said.

Jow said President Barrow “does not care about fighting corruption, simply because if they were serious about fighting corruption, many of them would be consumed by it. Corruption is tolerated and protected by this administration.”

Jow further argued that the precedence was already set when Barrow and his NPP barefacedly associated themselves with Jammeh’s party APRC, which was an instrument of abuse with total disregard for the countless victims, whose victimization made his accidental presidency possible.

“My advice to Barrow is to note that history will not remember him kindly, especially in his carefree desire to fraternise with those who did this country wrong, either through blatant violation of the rights of Gambians, or daily light robbery of the poor people’s treasury,” Jow added.

For his part, Gambia Participates executive director, Marr Nyang said: “Tax payers’ money – I mean, monies meant to finance the upkeep of our hospitals to save vulnerable lives, and other crucial areas, were squandered due to the act or omission of some folks entrusted with public office. Government found them wanting and prescribed sanctions for their involvement in aiding and abetting theft. The same government comes back and gives a tap at the back of those folks acting like ‘you’re all good, you did well with that bank heist”’.

 Marr said with this precedent and others before it, corrupt officials in the state are likely guaranteed to walk freely and their heads up high! “Bizarre, isn’t it?” he added.

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