By Jarga Kebba Gigo
The Gambia is at a critical moment that calls for responsible and educative media, or we risk instability. Beyond politics, I have always said, ‘freedom without knowledge is dangerous’. The ‘freed Gambians’ need knowledge or may misuse their freedom. There are things that responsible media should not cover, cover and confront, cover and let the people decide. A nominated MP, minister, or staff cannot be above firing. Unless the constitution states who can do the firing, the hiring person(s) have to retain the firing power. How some Gambian media houses are covering the fired nominated MP and some deported Gambians claim without due confrontation and re-education is troubling. Giving them ‘free advertisement’ of protests through so called ‘news coverage’ is even more troubling.
Ms. Jaiteh must tell us who precisely has the power to fire her through our constitution or conscience. Even U.S supreme court judges are wrongly claimed to be above firing, but the truth is they can be impeached by congress and ultimately fired. Regular judges can be fired in different ways. Back to the Gambia, even elected MPs can be removed by their respective party leaders according to our questionable constitution, so a nominated MP cannot have higher job security. Common sense tells us the person(s) who hire you should have the power to remove you, unless the constitution gives you protection that must specifically state who else can fire you. Like an elected president can be fired by the people or impeachment, elected MPs are removable by the people or some form of ‘impeachment’ by a special council. Our new constitution is better without nominated MPs, it is a bad privilege for the president and toady MPs. Party councils or leaders should not be able to remove an elected MP, but a special council of judges or MPs from different parties should be assigned the task by the constitution. If an elected MP is caught with drugs , as example, in a foreign land, there has to be a way to remove that MP for the image of the institution and the Gambia. My point is no one should be above firing.
In a world of should, can, and want when angry people missed their wants, they may resort to ‘should nots’ we must reject, or at least do not encourage. Filing a case with the supreme court should be lot more costly to cover government fees and with reasonable conditions like filing a case at a lower court first. Ms. Jaiteh’s case is too flimsy and should have been contained through public debate with questions. If she chooses to be stubborn, a lower judge should have educated her through heavy fine or countersuit. How many court cases have been thrown out by the ‘U.S supreme court’ and how many Americans claimed ‘dictatorship’ and get ‘free advertisement’ of protest that may further anger confused Gambians and risk instability? There is no evidence that President Barrow intervened with the judiciary on this case or my mind. If I was looking at that lawsuit, I would have thrown it away on many grounds and how many of you would have wrongly assumed it is because Barrow intervened? Hearing a case cost tax payers lot of money, so no smart tax payer should encourage unnecessary court cases. This is why we have criminal and civil cases. You must pay for civil cases.
Suing a president or government comes with precious time cost, and this is why the president get protection from some civil than criminal cases. We cannot elect a president, task him/her millions of needs and wants, then allow tens, hundreds, or thousands of lawsuits to split his/her precious time. So the court and CRC folks must learn from this and give necessary protection to the presidency. The media must edit some news coverage; protests are legal but also dangerous at times. There are many media houses that won’t accept paid advertisement for protests, so allowing ‘free advertisement of protest’ with misinformation is far from responsible.
Some Gambian deportees are understandably angry, but unreasonably ignorant of how governments work and arrogant to soft Barrow and questionable media. Beside demanding evidence of the Gambia government’s involvement in their deportation, the media must ask questions. Do any of the Gambian deportees honestly think the Gambia Government needs permission of the Guinean Government to deport a Guinean, or German Government to deport a German national who overstays or commits a crime here ? Refugee seekers have rights, but not unlimited rights. When you travel with Gambian papers, you will likely be deported to the Gambia if your application is rejected, the Gambia will have to accept you as Gambian, or charge you and deport you if you fraudulently obtained legit Gambian papers. If you claim to be Gambian, but travel with no Gambian papers, that is when the deporting country must consult the Gambia government for possible identification. Only a criminal government will refuse to identify or take back its citizens. The argument that ‘you are sending money to the Gambia’ is a fact I highlighted to president Jammeh and the Barrow administration re-admits it through the NDP. That precious money does not mean government officials should co-lie with you or cover the truth to the level of risking bilateral relationships. Citing other questionable governments as example with or without evidence is an illusory suggestion to make the Gambia government co-criminal, which decent Gambians must reject. The media must defend the government at times and boldly reeducate angry folks, not just give them platforms to misinform other Gambians and legitimize their anger. Use your conscience, not just your so called rights or follow public gullibility. The firing of Ousainu Darboe will be another test for you. What did he say when others were fired and how will he take his firing? May we learn and progress. May God bless Showlove Trinity: let’s learn, let’s work, let’s have fun.