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City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Janneh Commission needs to be investigated

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The letter allegedly written by former Secretary to the Janneh Commission of Inquiry Alhaji Mamadi Kurang to the Lead Counsel of that commission Amie Bensouda deserves the urgent and serious attention of both the Commission and the Gambia Government. Alhaji may have acted beyond his authority according to the Justice Minister but then in doing so Alhaji did raise very serious issues of integrity and professionalism that cannot also be ignored.

The fact that Mr. Kurang was a staff of the Commission and could have the audacity to expose such alleged malpractices and attribute them to the Lead Counsel should indeed be a matter that should interest any reasonable individual especially the Commission itself and the Gambia Government. Hence it is not enough to either sack or accept the resignation of Mr. Kurang just like that. Rather both the Commission and the Government must be interested to verify that indeed his allegations were either false or true.

This is necessary to maintain the integrity and credibility of the Lead Counsel on one hand as well as that of the Commission on the other, hence the entire inquiry as a whole. As a citizen I have been afflicted with doubts and counter doubts when I read the letter and naturally I felt I need to get more answers. If I were in a position of authority surely I will want to ascertain the facts of this letter, but not to dismiss it unceremoniously.

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I would assume that Alhaji Kurang is not a reckless boy but indeed a very responsible adult just as I hold that Amie Bensouda to be also a very responsible professional. The fact that the letter was written on the official letterhead of the Commission and addressed to the Lead Council and then copied to the President of the Republic, the Commission Chair and Commissioners as well as the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General indicates that this is a serious mater. It cannot and must not be left to fade away!

This letter by all intents and purposes is a petition which is a right guaranteed under Section 25 subsection 1(f) which states that everyone has the right to petition the Executive for redress of grievances and to resort to the Courts for the protection of his or her rights. The reason why Alhaji copied the Executive, i.e. the President and the Minister and the Solicitor General is to express his grievances to them for redress.

Therefore when a citizen petitions the Executive, which Alhaji had done in this case, the Executive must not dismiss that petition without conducting any investigation. Failure to investigate and give an appropriate response to the petition means the Executive is failing its responsibilities hence undermining the rights of citizens. This means the Executive is therefore potentially forcing citizens to take the law into their own hands since they cannot obtain justice from the Executive.

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I wish to therefore demand that Pres. Adama Barrow and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou respond to this petition appropriately by instituting an independent investigation to determine the allegations made by Alhaji Kurang against the Lead Counsel. If the allegations are found to be false then we can take the petition to be false and malicious. But if the allegations are found to be true then necessary measures must be taken to save the integrity and legality of the Commission.

Since the petition was issued we have not also heard from the head of the Commission Sourahata Janneh make any public comment on it. Does he agree or disagree with the petition? What is the basis of his agreement or disagreement with the petition? Mr. Janneh cannot remain silent while his staff release accusations against each other in the open. Hence I wish to also demand that Mr. Janneh cause an unbiased investigation of his counsels to ensure that they are acting within the law and their terms of reference in view of these allegations.

Brushing aside this petition will be a huge mistake that will come to haunt the Gambia sooner or later.
By Madi Jobarteh

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