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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Is the IGP going to investigate thecircumstances of the medical container?

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By Madi Jobarteh

It is now five days since investigative journalists, The Republic published the case of the 40ft container of medical items sent by a charitable organization, Foundation 221. Instead of the container going to its rightful destination, i.e., Ministry of Health, it is instead reported that the container was donated to FaBB by an unidentified person who is claimed to have bought it at a GRA auction. From The Republic story it is evident that the charity ‘Foundation 221’ is a legal and legitimate organization which has sent the container purposely for the Ministry of Health in August 2023. All the necessary documentation and correspondences point to the fact that this container with half a million worth of medicines is for the Gambian people through the Government of the Gambia. Therefore, why is this container not in the hands of the Ministry of Health? Since the publication of the story, only FaBB came out to give an incomplete response. Apart from only confirming receipt of this 40ft container, FaBB said it was donated to it by a person who it failed to identify. Given that there are legal papers from legal entities such as Foundation 221 and the Ministry, it begs the question as to how and why this container should become an item for auction and donation to another non-state organization. Clearly, GRA and Ports must have all noticed from these papers the origin and destination of this container such that it is not normal that GRA would conveniently auction such a huge container. But until today neither GRA nor the Ministry of Health found it necessary to deny or confirm The Republic story. Why? As public institutions which have been named in such a dubious activity, it behooves them to respond. Silence can only go to confirm The Republic story which implicates both GRA and the Ministry of Health. It is therefore highly concerning that both the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police have failed to act on the story by opening investigations. Investigative journalists play a very important role in helping the Government to combat corruption, protect human rights and the environment and ensure good governance. Serious governments always take reports by investigative journalists seriously by pursuing the story. Silence only goes to confirm that this Government aids and abets corruption. FaBB is not beyond accountability. This is the second time that this organization is being embroiled in circumstances that point to corruption. In 2018, it could be recalled how D35M was transferred into the accounts of FaBB by a Chinese company, TBEA. At the time, citizens heard many conflicting stories by both the President and former Information Minister Ebrima Sillah, as well as by other Government officials which do not add up. Interesting though, we saw how that same Chinese company came to win the NAWEC contract under the Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernization Project, GERMP. The issue of the D35M has never been investigated even though it is obvious that FaBB is not a State institution with the authority to receive money or any material on behalf of the State. Yet money said to be for the Government was lodged in FaBB’s account as if it is a State representative. In a normal Government, one would have seen the President being the first to call for investigations into the matter of this container. But is it because the FaBB founder Fatou Bah Barrow is the wife of the President therefore she is above scrutiny? That is the definition of Animal Farm. I call on the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police to investigate FaBB, Ministry of Health and GRA about this 40ft container which belongs to the Gambian people as intended by the donors, Foundation 221.

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