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Monday, April 15, 2024

Letters to the Editor

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New Gambia is and continues to be an illusion
– expect not a good name by using the same system you fought against

Dear editor,

To you that were in denial of that country not being on her feet, now is the time to accept and sincerely look forward to the best remedies for we can neither continue denying nor allow the ugly to grow further.
Our people should not silently suffer anymore!
For if Jammeh and his government are rightfully blamed and taken as responsible for all the rights violations that occurred during his leadership, there is and would absolutely be no excuse why Barrow and his government wouldn’t be held responsible and blamed for the rights violations happening under his leadership and this early.

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And if the violations metted on the Kanilai protesters, the Gunjur protesters, the Farato protesters and many others could be hypocritically excused and brushed under the carpet – relating them to the late government, these specific violations and subsequent death of protesters at Faraba should not, cannot and will not be accepted with excuses of any form for it is completely apolitical and done by the same state forces that brutally did that of the previous regime.

Furthermore, they cannot be seen and treated as misfortunes but absolute abuses on the rights of citizens that were exercising their sovereign and democratic rights to protest against injustices and negligence by the state their taxes are sponsoring and maintaining.
To President Barrow, you and your government can willingly ignore the investigation of these deaths at Faraba (thou not genuine to do) to avoid the potential but short-lived shame as did to the death of late Haruna Jatta and many other abuses that need to be investigated for public knowledge and lawful actions against the abusers but be sure that they’ll someday and at your INCONVENIENT TIME all be investigated for not only Gambians to know but the globe to record as did to Jammeh (who ignored similar wrongs with the same perception).

Moreover, you must be cautious of the tongues and pens of the people (which includes some of the hypocrites and opportunists veiling as activists and rights defenders) dressing the wrongs of your government as mistakes cuz they won’t be here tomorrow to repeat the same they’re saying today as majority of them are perfectly emulating the deeds of those that enabled, excused and white-washed similar violations under Jammeh whom today they shamelessly stand against as justice campaigners to impress the gullible world.

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Your best bet therefore, is to pinch the salt and bite the most spicy pepper and sack the IGP together with the PIU commissioner and start a swift and impartial investigation into all the violations that occurred during your leadership or else they shall remain as medal tags on your suit for the rest of your life for their accumulation will not empty but only fill the bucket of ills for you and only you.
Remember that the world is watching and that those singing your good name will soon rest their voices for they’re nearer the end than the beginning of the song.


Muhammed Teks Tekanyi

Standing up with Kerr Fatou!

Dear editor,

The reported threat from Minister of Agriculture Omar Jallow that he would sue Kerr Fatou for defamation is nothing but an empty threat that must be condemned with immediate effect. The Minister must be told that as a public official he is therefore a legitimate target for criticism by citizens in the conduct of his public function. This criticism includes the role of the media to investigate in order to expose alleged misconduct either by himself or his Ministry.

To criticise and expose alleged wrongdoing by public officials falls squarely within the constitutional rights of citizens and the media as stipulated under Section 25 of our Constitution. Furthermore Section 207 subsection 3 empowers the media to hold the Gambia Government accountable on behalf of the people. Hence the report by Kerr Fatou is in place by law.

While defamation is a crime for which the victim has a right to pursue justice. But public officials who are criticised or accused in the conduct of their functions cannot easily sue journalists or citizens for defamation. If they do, then the burden lies on the public official to prove that the statement of defamation made against him is false and malicious. In other words if OJ succeeds to take Kerr Fatou to court, he bears the responsibility to prove that Kerr Fatou’s story is false and damaging to his person or reputation and that the statement was made with malice.

So far the nature of the Kerr Fatou story indicates that their story is not defamation against OJ therefore it is not injurious against him and more importantly it was not done with malice. Anyone who follows the story will notice the laborious and responsible effort this media outlet undertook to investigate the Ministry of Agriculture on the issue of this fertiliser.

In their story they could confirm basic facts that ascertain that there was expired fertilizer since 2009 about which the NEA recommended in 2014 that proper tests be taken to determine how best to dispose it off. They also found out that the Office of the President was aware of this matter as it had ordered investigations on the issue through the Ministry of Justice, NIA and the police even though State House failed to act on the outcome of those investigations. These investigations have just been confirmed by the Director of Press and Public Relations at State House in her last press conference.

Therefore Kerr Fatou has done due diligence in investigating this matter. For that matter it is indeed disappointing for OJ to threaten the media outlet with a court case. What we expect OJ to do is to have immediately come out to clear his name and his Ministry’s role in order to maintain his reputation intact. But to issue threats is a direct affront to press freedom and democracy in the country. If Kerr Fatou did not expose this story it is clear that the right thing would not be done on this matter by either the Ministry of Agriculture or State House, otherwise they would have addressed this matter since 2009 or 2014 or 2017. But they failed.
We can recall this same ill-conceived practice taken by three former ministers during the First Republic who sued the Torch newspaper of Sanna Manneh in 1988 when the newspaper alleged that the ministers were engaged in corrupt practices. Even though these ministers sued the newspaper the court ended up freeing the newspaper of any culpability.

Therefore I wish to stand with Kerr Fatou on this story and demand that the onus lies on OJ to disprove that both his Ministry and himself were not involved in any fertiliser mismanagement but to tell citizens what truly happened.
We need to know what OJ, as the Minister knows about the fertiliser; when did he know what he knew and what did he do when he knew about the fertiliser. This is the task before OJ and not to take Kerr Fatou to court.

Meantime all media houses and journalists must put on their investigative caps to poke their noses into our public offices to expose wrongdoing. Over the recent past alone there have been numerous alleged acts of corruption and rumours of corruption in various Government institutions including the Ministry of Finance, NAWEC, GAMTEL, GIEPA, SSHFC, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Office of the President as well as in our local government offices among others. Let our journalists go into these and other areas to bring out the issues in fulfillment of their constitutional role under Section 207(3) to hold the Government accountable on behalf of the people.

Madi Jobarteh

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