Holy cow! The Gambia’s judiciary has ruled that the president has trespassed on their turf. He has illegally ordered Janneh Commission’s adversely mentioned wrong-doers to repay the state, hand over properties and possibly pushed some of them out of the queue for prized government jobs.
So it is now up to the Justice minister use to the courts to recover state funds and ill-gotten gains from those the commission identified as ‘wrong-doers’. That might happen if the Barrow regime has the will to pursue the Janneh Commission recommendations. The ones the regime has, haven’t rejected, that is.
Given the capacity constraints noted by the Justice minister, going to court to collect probably won’t happen anytime soon. That would be unfortunate because there is plenty money at stake. Just imagine the enormity of the task the prosecutors face – Jammeh alone has more than 300 known properties, dozens of businesses, nearly a hundred bank accounts and other assets, documentation of which is spread across the 9-volume Janneh Commission Report. Add to that the pile of cases involving Bazzi, Njie-Saidy, Samba, Kharafi, Badjie, Ghanem and plenty of others. What the Justice Ministry faces is mind-numbing, as are the resources needed by both the prosecution and the defensce. We haven’t heard Gambia Bar Association voice any support for the Justice minister’s position – the legal industry will be pleased to get a boost to their business.
It is rather discouraging to have to wonder if the author(s) of the white paper didn’t know Gambian law. Law that was apparently in plain sight to the Court of Appeal judges and the chief Supreme Court judge. Don’t these people talk to each other? Or, perhaps satisfied that his Janneh Commission exposed financial wrong doing, and having made at least a gesture to collect state assets from the adversely mentioned, the president considers his role in the matter finished. Are justice and accountability seekers supposed to just forget about the whole matter, divert their focus to the TRRC and pray for a better outcome?
Next, consider that the president has not acted on the Jammeh Commission recommendation that he promptly ask the National Assembly to vote on whether or not the former president be charged for theft, economic crimes and corruption. That was more than a year ago. Just having a vote would acknowledge Jammeh’s crimes. There is a remote chance Jammehites might finally accept reality. Gambians would be spared having to pay D7,000 in order to read the 9-volume report. And asking the Justice Minister to charge him would at least signal that the president supports accountability. Never mind that they might not be able to carry through with it.
Finally, what are the president’s motives for failing to pursue Jammeh for the murder of Ghanaian and other West African immigrants back in 2005? President Akufo-Addo of Ghana asked the Gambian president to do so because he didn’t have the power to do it himself. We know the president’s lame excuse – “things are new here … we are still insecure…”. Apparently, Jammeh’s ghost is still roaming around the State House.
What’s more, that he purged from his regime coalition brothers, now political rivals, then replaced them with some Janneh Commission wrong-doers, casts doubt on the president’s sincerity in pursuing Jammeh and his minions. Reconciliation? Maybe, but add it all up and it just smells bad, similar to the odour of a sinister game plan. President Barrow needs to explain himself.
Over and out.