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Minister asked to explain fate of court order to reinstate soldier

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By Tabora Bojang

Defense Minister Serign Modou Njie has told National Assembly Members that government is yet to execute a high court order to reinstate and compensate a former soldier Omar Sarjo after declaring that he was “unlawfully dismissed” from the army in 2017.

Omar, who was also wrongly referred to as the son of MFDC separatist leader Salif Sadio, was enlisted into the Gambia Armed Forces in 2005 and was dismissed in 2017 following allegations that he was a foreigner who made a false declaration to enlist into the army. He challenged his dismissal and won at the Banjul High Court in 2022.

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The court ruled he should be compensated and reinstated into the army.

Foñi Kansala NAM Almameh Gibba yesterday asked the defense minister about that court order.

In response, the minister said the court order was not served to his ministry until recently and that it has since been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for legal advice.

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Asked what caused delay, the minister replied that he has “no answers” to that.

The NAM for Janjangbureh, Omar Jammeh, asked the minister whether such inaction is not tantamount to a violation of the constitution and the GAF Act, but the   question was ruled out by the Speaker declaring it to be seeking the minister’s personal opinion.

However, the member for Busumbala Muhammed Kanteh, reminded Minister Njie that he had previously informed NAMs that his ministry was in receipt of the court ruling and had referred it to its legal team for review. “So today you are telling us you just received it. What do you want this House to believe?”, Kanteh told the minister who replied: “That was not exactly what I said the last time. I had said we received a legal opinion from GAF but then that does not mean the court order was served to the ministry. We only received it [court order] now.”

Fulladu NAM, Gibbi Mballow, too chipped in: “Hon Speaker, this order has been given and this is the second time that the minister is coming here over the matter. We want facts about the execution of the order and why do they need legal advice? If they are not appealing the decision let them execute it. The Minister cannot tell us all this. It is unacceptable.”

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