I have just had the chance to read Standard Newspaper’s reporting on OJ and I must confess that the statement attributed to him was cold, insensitive and a part of deliberate, coordinated and overt scheme to not only minimize the suffering of the victims of Yahya Jammeh’s criminal empire but also undermine TRRC and preempt its recommendations. In OJ’s warped reasoning, justice and compensation are mutually exclusive – that is to say, pursuing one precludes the other. This is as wrong as it is dangerous, distasteful and objectionable.
But OJ isn’t alone in floating such a wild fantasy. We have witnessed President Barrow play dangerous politics with Janneh Commision and worked with others to effectively kill the Draft Constitution, all at colossal expense to the country. Selling Justice to the highest bidder appears to be a new mantra for a government that has consistently missed the most important marks to demonstrate seriousness in fighting for justice, fair play and meeting expectations of the citizens.
To be perfectly clear: what these endured was unlawful, criminal and violation of the highest degree and there is no better recourse than the dispensation of Justice. And if that leads to Yahya Jammeh’s incarceration or even death sentence, so be it. For our country to move forward as a viable nation committed to upholding the rule of law, any and all acts of impunity must be shunned and the idea of commodifying Justice for whatever reason must be rebuked outright. Entertaining such callous thought is enough to cause serious national security nightmare for the country.
Thus, OJ and others should be put on notice that TRRC needs to be supported to do its job free of unwanted, unwelcomed and even unhelpful commentary. Victims should be accorded both justice and compensation and criminals who bear the greatest responsibility for the wanton rights violations must face the full weight of our nation’s full and uncompromising prosecutorial machinery and laws. We cannot afford to create more criminals in our society just because their actions could be leveraged by money!
Zakaria Kemo Konteh