By Madi Jobarteh
The conversation between Sheriff Tambadou and Ndoura Badgie is despicable, unprofessional and unethical on both parties. Sheriff betrayed sacred professional principles and potentially undermined the course of justice by guiding this lady through the life of this case, rightly or wrongly. He also failed to stand up for the Gambia by failing to put it to Ndoura that indeed the current dispensation cannot in any stretch of imagination be compared to the Yahya Jammeh tyranny. No amount of friendship should have allowed Sheriff to condone much less agree with Ndoura with such a dishonest and insensitive comment. In any case, Sheriff must now protect what is left of his good family name and personal and professional credibility to apologize to Gambians and humbly resign from the prosecution team.
On her part Ndoura betrayed the sacred humanistic values that underpin friendship and trust. She has betrayed a fine and decent gentleman who had given her space and sympathized with her ordeal. Clearly Ndoura has shown that she is a worse human being who does not deserve the confidence and friendship of Sheriff Tambadou and indeed any decent human being ever again. Ndoura has further demonstrated dishonesty, selfishness and callousness to downplay and ridicule the misery and pain inflicted on Gambians by the APRC Dictatorship in which her husband was a key perpetrator. Contrary to her bluff, Ndoura may not know her husband as she claims because in history torturers live double lives. At work they are monsters. At home they are loving husbands and fathers. Certainly Yankuba will not tell her and her kids how he tortured people and allowed torture and murder to go on under his watch.
That aside, we need to get to the facts in order to move forward. At this stage Pres. Barrow must convene a press conference or issue a statement to speak on the issues raised in this conversation. Is it the intention of himself and his government to do as Sheriff claimed? Barrow needs to speak to Gambians to re-assure us that his planned TRC is not a plan to stifle justice. Therefore he needs to tell Gambians what is his overall plan for exposing truth and dispensing justice for the atrocities of Yahya Jammeh in the past 22 years. This unfortunate conversation has cast doubt on the credibility and integrity of his government and he needs to salvage himself and his government for the purpose of records and posterity.
The Minister of Justice Baa Tambadou faces a fundamental moral question to either resign or not. But like the president, he also needs to re-assure Gambians that he did not share the views expressed by his brother. We need to know if indeed he had told Sheriff that he never wanted this matter to go to court. Hence he needs to clear his name. He needs to tell us how resolved he is to ensure that the course of justice shall remain unshaken and straight.
Minister Tambadou is the one who appointed the Special Counsel Antouman Gaye, who in turn appointed Sheriff. Hence Baa is the source of the platform for which Sheriff’s statements becomes critically important. Being the source of that platform and given that Sheriff is his brother who has attributed very unsavoury statements to him, rightly or wrongly, therefore Baa faces a crisis of credibility and reputation. Can he ignore the statements attributed to him as lies and therefore does no warrant his resignation? Or will he consider them to be statements that came from a family member that go to injure national interests under his watch and therefore resign? This is the moral question facing Baa for which history is recording and posterity will judge.
The Special Prosecutor Antouman Gaye must also speak to Gambians on this matter. Did he approve of this meeting? What is the objective of this meeting? Did Sheriff perform as expected or not? Are the views that Sheriff expressed the same views that he and his team of lawyers share? This conversation has therefore raised trust issues on the Special Prosecutor and his team and therefore he needs to speak to the issues urgently in order to uphold their sanctity and reputation. In any case, where Sheriff fails to resign, Mr. Gaye must remove him from his team.
Finally, this conversation speaks to the very nature and direction of this government in terms of ensuring justice for crimes of the dictatorship and the entire system change we require. Ndoura spoke of agents in the NIA giving them information and that no evidence would be found. This raises questions and validates my demand since the first day that the NIA should be closed. NIA is a crime scene. Many of the agents that are still there are intertwined with Yaya Jammeh atrocities hence its continued operation means potentially tampering with evidence. The NIA Legal Advisor Badgie had written a petition to the president in May this year highlighting these issues yet he was only arrested while this crime scene has been left to function as usual.
What therefore is the understanding of Pres. Barrow and his cabinet about where the Gambia came from and where it needs to go? Why should Barrow continue to maintain key public and security officers in their usual strategic positions when those individuals were accomplices in the dictatorship? The necessary cleansing of public institutions and security agencies has not taken place far enough and this explains why a person like Ndoura Badgie could have the audacity to speak in such horrible language and pathetic tone. This is because she knows she has agents in our institutions serving her husband until today.
This conversation therefore is a wakeup call for Barrow and his administration to rethink their entire approach otherwise they will woefully fail their people. The ‘maslaha’ approach must stop and drastic changes need to take place in our public institutions and security agencies in order to ensure a total system change and dispensation of justice. Keeping these aiders and abettors in their same offices is to compromise the course of change and justice. Barrow must realize that this is his government and therefore he has the authority to sack and appoint anyone (without recourse to nepotism or tribalism) that he thinks can best make him succeed.
I cannot believe that Adama Barrow, Ousainou Darboe, Mai Fatty, Fatoumatta Tambajang, Isatou Touray, Hamat Bah and OJ Jallow including the other Cabinet members can tell us that they do not know that. These people have been active in the Gambia for the past 22 years and they know how this system was working under Yahya Jammeh. Thus how naïve could they be to think that just removing Jammeh means the end of the story? Do they not know that officials and officers in the public and security sectors on a daily basis were facilitating the dictatorship? How therefore could they leave such officials and officers in the same places? Amazing!
God bless The Gambia