By Omar Bah in Niumi
The Chief of Upper Niumi District, Chatty Cham has denied working with elements of the Barrow Youth Movement who were seen contacting people in villages to submit their names and telephone numbers on the pretext that those details are needed for development purposes.
Political opponents of BYM in Upper Niumi told The Standard that the exercise has been going on for some days now.
The team that is allegedly assigned by the Chief has already visited Kabakoto, Kerr Dekodeh and Chilla Villages all of Upper Niumi.
The District is dominated by the United Democratic Party and the Gambia Democratic Congress.
Musa Bah, the GDC Pakou Ward Chairman said he has advised his villagers against giving their names to the Barrow Youth Movement, adding that if the Barrow administration which they support, wants to bring development in the area they should follow the right channels.
“We believe the actions of the Barrow Youth Movement are politically motivated. We felt really disappointed that Barrow is trying to take advantage of our poverty to score political gains,” he told The Standard.
Mr Bah also criticised the Chief for intervening in the President’s political activities contrary to their mandates.
He alleged that during Ramadan the movement brought some sugar for the people of Fass Saho village “Only those known to be loyalists of Barrow got the sugar”.
Habib Bah, the councilor for Prince Ward also recalled someone coming to their village requesting names and numbers.
“But the villagers have made it very clear to the Alkalo that we will not entertain anything like that in our village,” Councilor Bah said.
He said the man promised to come back but has not returned since.
When contacted for his reaction, the Chief of Upper Niumi, Chatty Cham said he has no connection with the Barrow Youth Movement.
“What you are telling me is news to me. I am hearing this for the first time,” he added.
Meanwhile, one of the messengers who alleged to have been sent by the Chief refused to comment on the matter and demanded his name not to be mentioned in the matter.
The Standard also contacted a member of the BYM who begged for anonymity before responding: “These claims are ridiculous.
Who would collect signatures and names to bring development? It does not make sense.”
When asked if the exercise is not meant to collect signatures for the formation of a possible political party, the BYM man replied: “Well you are the one mentioning that.
I never said that”.