By Omar Bah
The National Assembly Member for Foñi Kansala, Almamy Gibba, has said monies generated from the sales of former president Yahya Jammeh’s assets should not be used to pay reparations to his victims.
Honourable Gibba, who was speaking during the consideration of the Victims Reparations Bill yesterday at the National Assembly, explained: “Are we now saying that if this government is out of power, a commission will be set up and the president’s assets will be seized and sold? In making laws, we should remember that governments come and go.”
He said though the government has all the powers to do as it pleases, it should be careful about setting certain precedence.
“We (NAMs) should be very careful about the type of laws we are passing here. We should avoid setting a bad precedence because there has not been any ruling from a competent court that says Jammeh acquired his assets illegally. You want to tell me the former president owns nothing for himself as a former president? So, I am saying it is improper to use the proceeds of Jammeh’s assets to pay reparations,” he said.
He insisted that the justice minister has not specified any law that qualifies Jammeh’s assets as illegally acquired.
“They have no grounds to sell Jammeh’s assets in the first place, and I totally disagree with that provision,” he added.
Responding to Gibba’s concerns, Speaker Fabakary Tombong Jatta insisted that the provision cannot apply beyond what it is designed for.
“So, I don’t think there is any problem,” he said.
The NAM for Serekunda West, Madi Ceesay, said the money in question is state property, and the government can decide how and where they want to use it.
Also commenting on the matter, the minister of justice, Dawda Jallow, said the state has the prerogative to fund the reparations.
“Generally, and ideally, it should not be an issue where the government will get the money from. It is committed to making sure victims are properly reparated. However, because this was a victim-led activity, the victims themselves said it would be satisfying to them that the government or the leader that is alleged to have violated them would make the proceeds of his resources part of the resources that would be used in the reparations fund. To you and me, it might not be much, but to them, it is very important, so that is why it is there,” he said.