Challenges gov’t to release Bamfo Commission’s report
By Omar Bah
Following the landmark Supreme Court judgment declaring that the 1994 Bamfo Commission, which was set up following the overthrow of the PPP government, was not properly constituted, the People’s Progressive Party has issued a communiqué urging the Barrow administration to return its seized assets.
The decision of the court came when MC Cham challenged the Constitution of the Commission of Inquiry on the basis that Justice Bamfo, who was the chair, was not qualified as a judge or a legal practitioner in The Gambia.
In its reaction, the PPP USA chapter’s director of media and communication, Kebba Lamin Nanko, shared the following statement with The Standard: “President Adama Barrow, being the custodian of the constitution of The Gambia, should consider returning the assets of the PPP. These assets were taken illegally through an executive order by the AFPRC, and they went further to ban the party unlawfully for seven years before it was lifted in 2001. Even after the lifting of the ban, the APRC government refused to return our assets.
In 2018, a PPP congress resolution was passed for the party executive to engage the government for the smooth return of our assets, and the executive of the PPP did engage the president about our assets. There were calls for the party to go to court in order to retrieve our assets, but the leadership of the party prefers dialogue with the president to amicably resolve the matter”.
The statement added that the PPP’s founding father had a vision, just like President Barrow, to build political bureaus across the country.
“That is why, when in 1984 we marked our party’s silver jubilee, we saw the need to put together in words and images an account of this party, of the men and women who have shaped its destiny and ensured its continued success and survival through hard and good times. In particular, it is addressed to the younger generation, who will have to bear the torch into the distant future. It would be unimaginable for anyone to believe that the young NPP, less than four years old, can build political bureaus in all corners of the country with many pickup vehicles and many other assets and doubt the ability of the PPP to have some assets to its name,” it added.
The party argued that since 1994, the Bamfo Commission’s report has never been made public, and the government has never issued a white paper as per the findings of the commission to justify the allegations of corruption and nepotism.
“The late Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ) over the years, almost every year, challenged Yahya Jammeh to make the Commission findings and report public to no avail. This demonstrates that the AFPRC junta has just used a populist campaign with false information to denigrate the PPP regime among the Gambian population, especially the younger generation,” the party added.
The party alleged that Justice Akoto Bamfo, who chaired the commission, was quoted by the judiciary of Ghana and subsequently reported by a local newspaper that before the commission could present its report, a member had leaked its findings to the AFPRC Junta.
According to the PPP, the Commission chairperson Akoto Bamfo was quoted to have said the following when she got back to Ghana: “I was then told that if I failed to make adverse findings against some ministers, the objectives of the revolution would have failed. We later booked an appointment with the Presidency. We sat there for close to four hours. The Secretary General came to inform me that the President had a toothache, so there was no way he could see me, and asked us to come the next day. I told him I had booked my flight. So, I just took the report, handed it over to him, and left. I later learned that the report was rewritten”.
“So if the current government has the original report of the Bamfo Commission, they should make it public to restore the dignity and integrity of the former PPP ministers and their families affected by false information by the Junta. The PPP politicians have worked under very difficult circumstances to take the Gambia from where it was with sacrifice and selflessness,” the PPP added.
The statement added that the PPP, NCP, and GPP had petitioned former President Yahya Jammeh for the abrogation of Decree 89 because the parties considered it to have no democratic or legal justification whatsoever to have been enacted, let alone for its continued existence and inclusion in the statute books of the country.
“To us, the only purpose Decree 89 has served is that it has disfranchised a selected number of citizens of this country, some of whom gallantly and patriotically were on the front lines during the struggle for statehood and the period thereafter when the nascent state badly and urgently needed their services to reach the desired level of maturity, but on whom the said decree has unjustly and wrongly stigmatised without proof of any wrongdoing either during their service to the nation or in their private lives as lawful citizens,” the petitioned letter signed by Omar Amadou Jallow, Sheriff M Dibba, and Assan M Camara (22 June 2001) reads.
“The party is requesting its Bakamon (21 Leman Street) building, currently occupied by Immigration Department, the Office of the Independent Electoral Commission in Banjul, the PPP bureau in Brikama, which was previously occupied by the July 22nd Movement and the Green Boys, 10 pickup vans, party furniture, documentation, bank accounts, and other properties.
The party hopes the president will reflect on the relationship he shared with it in 2016 and use the same powers used by the Junta to return all their assets with compensation,” the statement concluded.