By Omar Bah
Former Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty has denied any responsibility in the killing of Kanilai native Haruna Jatta by Ecomig forces in 2017.
Mr Jatta was killed during a protest by the people of Kanilai against the presence of the West African troops in former president Jammeh’s home village.
As Interior Minister at the time, Mai Fatty said people must obey the law or be consumed by it. The minister was criticised for making those comments.
But in a strong rebuttal yesterday, Mr Fatty said: “It has been made abundantly clear that the late Haruna Jatta did not lose his life under my watch. He died allegedly during and as a result of confrontation between protesters in Foni against Ecomig forces. Ecomig was not under my command as Interior Minister.
“I had no control or jurisdiction over ECOMIG and they were not answerable to me or my Ministry. The sad event occurred while I was in Monrovia, participating at the Ecowas regional security meeting. I cut short my visit, returned home to expeditiously tackle the ensuing internal security complexities created by the protest,” Fatty said.
He said the Ministry of Interior only intervened to comprehensively restore law and order in Foni, after the tragic event had already occurred.
“Assets under my Ministry were not involved during the fatal scuffle against the military in Foni,” he said.
Ecomig soldiers who allegedly shot Haruna Jatta, Fatty added, “were under the direct coordination and supervision of the Ministry of Defence at Office of the President, and not the Ministry of Interior. That explains why the investigation into the incident was led by the Ministry of Defence at State House and supported by the Ministry of Interior.
“I am willing to take responsibility for the Ministry of Interior, which excluded ECOMIG forces in Foni and elsewhere. Every state minister must own up to his/her responsibilities. I will not assume liabilities for another Minister or Ministry and I will not accept blames for things outside my authority and duty. This does not vitiate the principle of collective responsibility in Cabinet,” Fatty stressed.
Therefore, Fatty noted, “It is utter falsehood to continue to allege that the late Haruna Jatta was ‘killed’ under my watch. It happened under the watch of the Ministry of Defence, not Interior. I have never had personal issues with Foni. Those who peddle such falsehood do so out of malevolent political motives.”
“Yet, no nation is viable without respect for the law. My pronouncements and actions on the unfortunate incident at the time, were based on intelligence reports, detailed security briefings and expert advice availed to me as Minister, from relevant agencies, and this is normal in all democracies. That I asserted and enforced obedience to the law or be consumed by the law, is a cardinal principle of democracy,” he added.
Fatty added: “I have no regrets about this in particular and will not change my beliefs about the sanctity of law and respect for the rule of law. Lastly, I am very proud of the GPF. Based on my work experience, the GPF could potentially be one of the best in the Region, if their basic professional requirements are enhanced. Facts have been made abundantly clear to all. Those who are not interested in the truth will continue their futile attempts to discolour the reality.”