By Lamin Cham
The Gambia national team players yesterday boycotted a planned presentation of their Afcon qualification bonus by President Barrow at State House.
The money, amounting to a little over 11 million dalasi was instead presented to the team manager, who turned up without the players.
News of the players planned boycott first surfaced through a letter on social media addressed to the Gambia Football Federation purportedly from the players.
In the letter, the players politely declined the invitation to State House and went on to explain their position on the matter in detail. The letter reads: “The Senior national team has been informed that His Excellency President Adama Barrow has requested to meet with the players. Information was also received that the president would be giving the team D11 million to be shared among the players and staff.The team would like to thank His Excellency for the invitation but would kindly decline the invitation to meet and the money offered. For the players, playing for The Gambia has never been primarily about money. Instead, it has always been about flying the Gambian flag higher and making the Gambian people proud. The players are always happy and determined to represent the nation whenever they are called upon without hesitation regardless of the difficulties that sometimes come with it. Football is a game of incentives. Having qualified to compete in next year’s African Cup of Nations for the first time in Gambian history, the team deserves to be given a bonus that would motivate the players and every child who dreams of playing for The Gambia someday. The team feels that the respect and motivation given to the players fall below what is supposed to be. For this reason, the players unanimously decided to decline the invitation. If the GFF accepts it would not be doing so on behalf of the players. We hope that going forward, the players will be given enough motivation as the preparations for the African cup continue.”
The Standard contacted at least three players of the team to authenticate the letter and all three said while they could not confirm the existence of the letter, its content is a true reflection of what they have discussed among themselves over the past few days about the proposed visit to State House. “Yes, it is true that there was talk that we should not attend it even though some people feel that is not right or respectful but unfortunately that is what most of us agreed,” a senior player told The Standard. Another senior player told The Standard that coach Tom Saintfiet and others have sent in messages appealing to the players to attend the meeting, warning that boycotting it would be seen to be disrespectful to the president. The Standard contacted several GFF officials but none would respond to our enquiries about the matter.
However, the Minister of Youth and Sports Bakary Badjie told The Standard that the presentation, which also included one to the volleyball team, and the Gambia Under-20 football team went ahead.
“The Scorpions did not come but the team manager received the check,” he said. The Minister added that the event was not so much an invitation from the president but it was his ministry, which accorded the honour to the president as the chief patron to perform the presentations at State House. The Standard further contacted another senior player whether they would now accept the money but he maintained that they have not asked anyone to receive anything on their behalf.
“We have made it clear in that letter that whatever one does there is not on our behalf,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, State House last night confirmed that President Barrow has made the following presentations; D500,000 to Volleyball, D2.5million to Under-20 football team and D11.1million to the Senior National team.
The statement did not mention the absence of the senior national team players.
Press releaseGambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) has announced that it has resumed satellite transmission of its TV programmes with effect from 14 June 2021.
Breaking the news in a short press release, the Director General of GRTS, Mr. Malick Jeng, said the National Broadcaster is on Eutelsat Satellite E16A/H1, in the same bouquet with some Gambian, and Senegalese and other West African TV stations.
The reception parameters for GRTS are as follows:
16 degrees East - EUTELSAT 16A -Africa East Transmit
Sym. Rate 30.000
Down Freq 12,520.750 MHz
Channel GRTS (SID:303)
Mr. Jeng used the opportunity to thank the President of the Republic, His Excellency Adama Barrow and his government, as well as the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure, and the GRTS Board of Directors for the support that made this possible.
Mr. Jeng added that this development has come at a time when GRTS is working on a new schedule of interesting and relevant programmes for both Radio and Television.
‘NPP will not be intimidated, Dec 4th is judgement Day’Jun 16, 2021, 10:54 AM | Article By: Sankulleh Gibril Janko
The Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure Ebrahim Sillah says the National People's Party (NPP) will not be intimidated by the allegations that they are registering non-Gambians to obtain Gambian voter's card, adding that December 4th will be the 'Judgement Day' on the outcome of the elections.Sillah, who did not mention any political party claimed these are strategies employed by some people knowing they would be defeated come December 4th.
"I think some people are laying the fertile ground now for their eventual defeat and as a result they are going to use some of these allegations that the party was voted in by non-Gambians," Sillah claimed. "But judgement day is December 4th."
Minister Sillah, while speaking on the West Coast Radio, believes no one could stop some people making these allegations, he said they will not be intimidated by these comments.
"Remember most of the people making these allegations actually are those also who have all along been saying this type of thing that foreigners are supporting the president also the government.
"So you cannot stop them from saying these things, genuine Gambians know that this is not true and you don't expect us to come here and be intimidated by these types of comments to the point that we will actually follow their demands no! As far as the rules are there nobody who is not a Gambian can even get a Gambian voter's card."
Journalist cum politician Sillah said it is senseless to debate about the issue of NPP registering non-Gambians to vote in the upcoming elections.
"As if it is even true that NPP is bringing in non-Gambians to register here. This debate in itself is senseless in that it does not help in anyway other than to populate the atmosphere with all the unnecessary rumour that is going on that people are registering non-Gambians."
Sillah categorically denied such allegations, while claiming it is not possible for any non-Gambian to vote.
He claimed some supporters have confronted people questioning their nationality even though these people have documents to prove their citizenship.
It is up to the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure that non-Gambians are not registered during the national voter registration exercise. So far according to the CSO Coalition on elections in the Gambia, the commission is doing a great job.
However, it is not impossible for non-Gambians to get Gambian documents meant for only Gambians.
It is alleged that former President Yahya Jammeh brought in people from southern Senegalese Cassamance region to vote during elections.
Before the 2016 presidential election, about 200,000 voters cards were alleged found in the APRC bureau before they were burnt down to ashes.
It is an open secret that non-Gambians have over the years obtained national documents without due process.
The Barrow led government has had its share of the menace as investigation showed non-Gambians obtained diplomatic passports during his ongoing tenure as president.
The attestation according to experts is the biggest problem facing the IEC in the current voter registration exercise.
Alkalolu attest for people as members of their community without rigorous scrutiny availing the platform for non qualified people to be registered and eventually vote during elections.
Section of the population is calling for electoral reforms that will repeal the attestation clause as a determinant document to obtaining a voter's card.
Legislators at the National Assembly yesterday passed the Access to Information Bill 2019 for the second reading after a long debate.The bill was tabled by the Attorney-General and minister for Justice. It seeks to make information accessible to every person in The Gambia including students, researchers, journalists and also to place an obligation on public bodies and private organisations that deal with public funds so that whenever information is requested, the information holder provides it.
The bill, if it becomes law, will place a penalty on anyone who violates the Access to Information Act and the penalties could be as follows: A fine of between D50,000 to D250,000 or imprisonment term between 6 months and 1 year.
The bill, if it becomes law, will also establish an Information Commission that would deal with matters that has to do with Access to Information as it will encourage accountability and transparency in government and also encourage the public to participate in matters of public concern.
Justice Minister Dawda Jallow said custodians of such information are public servants, and therefore if they are charged under an offense and convicted, even if you deem the punishment to be light by the virtue of the conviction they will lose their job because it’s a criminal conviction.
He added that some of them depend on their status at work place in which they could carry a criminal conviction and lose their job that even is more serious than the fine on this clause.
The bill has been adjourned until next week Tuesday for a second reading.
Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court yesterday ruled in fovour of the prosecution that Yakumba Jaiteh and Yusupha Jaiteh, who were charged with assault and obstruction, have a case to answer. This followed a no-case submission made by the defence.In her ruling, she told the court that the first accused person, Yakumba Jaiteh, was charged on count one for the offence of assault punishable with two years imprisonment contrary to Section 230 ( E ) of the Criminal Code. She stated that on count two, Yakumba Jaiteh was charged together with Yusupha Jaiteh for the offence of obstruction of inspectors contrary to Section 62 ( 1 ) ( a ) of the Drug Control Act.
She further posited that the particulars of offence on count one alleged that on or about the 6th day of October, 2020, at Kololi and diverse places, in the Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia, she unlawfully assaulted one Ebrima Fadera, a narcotic officer, by holding his neck while he was on due execution of his duties.
She went on to say that on count two, Yakumba Jaiteh and Yusupha Jaiteh were alleged to have, on or about the 6th of October, 2020, at Kololi and diverse places, in the Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia, unlawfully and without reasonable excuse obstructed the following inspectors: Lamin Manjang, Landing Tamba, and Sisawo Nyabally, all narcotic officers, while they were on due execution of the duties.
She stated that both the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the offences they were respectively charged with. To prove its case, she went on, the prosecution called six witnesses and tendered exhibits A-C which were: a prescription paper, a receipt and a medical report, all bearing the name of Ebrima Fadera, the first prosecution witness.
She said that the defence, through the prosecution witnesses, tendered defence exhibits 1-6 which were the witness statements of PW 1, PW 2, PW 3, PW 4 and PW 6 and the warrant card of PW 1.
At the end of the prosecution’s case, she told the court, the defence opted to make a no-case-to-answer submission pursuant to Section 166 of the CPC and they argued orally. She said that the prosecution also replied to the no-case-to-answer submission orally. “Both parties in their respective arguments urged the court to rule in its favour,” she stated.
She further declared that having carefully gone through the entire evidence adduced by the prosecution, and having also carefully considered the arguments made by both the defence counsel and the prosecution, and also bearing in mind the essential elements of the offences charged, it was her view that the sole issue for determination at that point was whether the prosecution had made out a prima facie case requiring the accused persons to be called upon to open their defence.
“A prima facie case is simply the establishment of a legally required rebuttable presumption. It is a flexible evidentiary standard that measures the effect of evidence as meeting, or tending to meet, the prosecution’s burden of proof on a given issue sufficient to justify a conviction, provided that such evidence is not rebutted by the defence,” she said.
She further posited that from this definition, to decide whether or not to uphold a no-case submission, the test to be applied was whether there was evidence which, if accepted, would provide evidence of each element of the charge. Even if there was such evidence, she said, it may be so lacking in weight and reliability that it was open to the court as a matter of discretion to dismiss the charge. “Thus, at this stage, I will not deal with the credibility or not of the witnesses adduced by the prosecution or on the weight of their evidence. I will just look at whether the witnesses adduced by the prosecution have been discredited under cross-examination and consider whether their evidence is manifestly unreliable that it would not be safe for the court to rely on,” she declared.
She adduced further that she had considered the submissions on both sides and authorities relied on. “I have also considered the above definition of what constitutes a prima facie case. Having carefully gone through the entire evidence adduced by the prosecution, and without wishing to go into the fact of the case, I find that there is a prima facie case made out against the accused persons that is sufficient to call upon the accused to enter a defence. Accordingly, the no-case-to-answer submission is dismissed and I call upon the accused persons to enter their defence pursuant to Section 167 of the CPC,” she said.
It could be recalled that ASP Jahateh on the 19th May, 2021, replied on the no-case submission made by the defence counsel, Yankuba Darboe. He argued that the prosecution had established a prima facie case to warrant the accused to enter their defence.
The defence counsel, on the other hand, submitted that the prosecution witnesses were discredited through cross-examination. He further said that they contradicted themselves in their testimonies.
But ASP Jahateh did not agree at all. In his deliberation, he posited that the matter was adjourned for reply. He adduced that from the totality from the evidence of the six prosecution witnesses, it was such points to be deduced from the evidence.
He argued that the first accused, Yakumba, was on the scene and accosted that her brother would not be arrested. He said that the second accused, Yusupha Jaiteh, was put on the scene by the witnesses. “From the evidence of Ebrima Fadera, there was an assault. The prosecution evidence indicates that the arresting officer was held during an ordinary hour on the scene,” he told the court.
He further stated that the issue to be determined was whether the prosecution had established a prima facie case for the accused to enter their defence. He cited Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code to support his argument. “Section 166 clearly states that if at the closure of the prosecution case the prosecution has not made a case against the accused persons, the court shall acquit them. But according to Section 167, if the prosecution has made a case against the accused persons, the accused shall be called upon to defend themselves,” he submitted.
He posited that what was presented by the prosecution called for explanation by the accused persons. He argued that once the prosecution has established the minimum requirement of the ingredient and element of the offences charged, the defence is required to be heard. He cited a Nigerian case to convince the court.
“There are several decisions warranting the court to discharge the accused persons after a no-case submission. It is clear from the evidence adduced that the facts need some explanation which the accused should make with the view of the evidence adduced. It is the judge’s duty when a no-case submission is made to discharge an accused where the evidence adduced does not disclose minimum evidence establishing the facts of the offence charged,” he submitted.
He told the court that the evidence of the witnesses connected the accused to the offences charged. He stated that the cross-examination by the defence did not shake the witnesses in the dock. “For a no-case submission to succeed, three requirements must be met. One, the prosecution must have failed to establish the ingredient and element of the offence charged. Two, the evidence of the prosecution must have been thoroughly discredited so much that it will not be necessary for the accused to open their defence. Three, the prosecution witnesses must be so incredible for a reasonable court to convict the accused. These are laid down principles in the English Practice Note 1962,” he argued.
He noted that the evidences of the prosecution witnesses were not at all discredited through cross-examination. “The elements of the offences charged have been established against the accused persons. The question one should ask is whether this piece of evidence calls for explanation on the part of the accused persons. The answer is certainly yes,” he said.
He further adduced that all what the prosecution needed was to establish a prima facie case to invite the accused to open their defence. “On the term prima facie, we refer the court to the case of Godwin Chianugo versus The State 2006, ICCPR page 62,” he said.
“When a submission of no-case is made on behalf of an accused person, the trial court is not dare call an opinion on any evidence. The court is to rule accordingly that there is before the court no legally admissible evidence linking the accused to the offence charged. If the submission is based on discredited evidence, such evidence must be apparent on the face of the record. If this is not the case, it will fail. It is our submission that there is nothing on the face of the record that the evidences are so discredited that they render the eventual argument of the prosecution valueless,” ASP Jahateh told the court.
Well armed with legal authorities, he posited that if the court was not satisfied by going by what was placed before the court, and there was no legally admissible evidence at all against the accused, the court was bound to acquit the accused. “In such instance, refusing the application and calling the accused to enter their defence would be tantamount to placing the accused on the onus to establish their innocence,” he stated.
If on the other hand, he went on, there was legally admissible evidence devoid of hearsay, the court was obliged to call upon the accused to enter their defence. “We therefore urge the court to discountenance the submission of the defence and ask the accused to enter their defence,” he concluded.
On points of law, Yankuba Darboe, the defence counsel, rose and told the court that the starting point was Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He argued that this section avails the accused the right to make a no-case submission. “The prosecution has stated that all what they need is to establish a prima facie case against the accused. What is essential is that the prosecution should prove the ingredient and element of the offence charged. Secondly, the evidence of the prosecution must not be discredited. The evidence of the prosecution witnesses was discredited because one of them lied. They contradicted themselves,” Counsel Darboe argued.
He further noted that the only evidence presented linking the accused to the offence was the oral evidence but not the documents tendered. “The prosecution has woefully failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused. We submit that the requirement of the defence is to prove the innocence of the accused. We beg the court to grant our application,” he adduced.
The case was adjourned to the 30th June, 2021, for the accused persons to enter their defence.
Aisha Tamba Nyima Bah
The chief forecaster at the Department of Water Resources Mr Tijani Bojang has declared that this year’s rainy season will be normal but not as good as the 2020 wet season.
Speaking to The Standard at his Central Forecast Office in Yundum yesterday, Bojang disclosed that the seasonal rainfall prediction for 2021 will be normal with a probability of not going below normal. “The season is expected to be very good but as good as the 2020 season, because last year The Gambia experienced rainfall of over 48 percent above normal. This year we cannot have that because the conditions are very different, the evolution of the sea surface temperature were all favourable compared to this year’s prediction.”
This prediction, he said, is based on the evolution of the sea surface temperature over the north and south Atlantic Ocean as well as the tropical equatorial Pacific Ocean, “because these three regions of the ocean are the ones that influence the country’s rainfall fluctuation”.
According to the seasonal prediction for July, August, and September most places in the country are predicted to experience normal annual rainfall, with the highest amount of above 700mm expected in the western region of the county. The range of 600-50mm are likely above the rest of the country.
“The predicted 2021 rainfall values would therefore be normal over large areas of the country. The latest figures indicate a 25 percent chance of above-normal rainfall, 45 percent chance of near-normal rainfall and 30 percent chance of below normal. Put in similar terms, this means that the chance of having normal rainfall is higher than the chance of having below normal rainfall,” the Department of Water Resources noted in a statement recently released.
The statement dilated that the 2021 rainfall season is expected to undergo more variability than the 2020 season with events such as early to normal onset, late withdrawal of rains, long and medium dry spells.
By Omar Bah
Mamma Kandeh, leader of Gambia Democratic Congress, has accused Barrow’s National People’s Party of fomenting hatred between Fulas and Mandinkas.
Kandeh was reacting to calls by NPP deputy national president Demba Sabally that Fulas should not vote for the UDP candidate in December presidential election. Dr Sabally was the national president of Mr Kandeh’s party before decamping to President Barrow’s NPP.
In a viral WhatsApp audio, Dr Sabally stated: “If the Fulas vote for Mamma Kandeh they will be helping the UDP and if they vote for UDP they will equally be helping the UDP but if they want to avoid a UDP government they should vote for President Barrow.”
Kandeh said Dr Sabally’s comments were parochial and could cause political strife between Mandinkas and Fulas, the two most populous ethnic groupings in the country. Both Kandeh and Sabally are Fulas.
“We [Fulas] should ask the NPP why they are not telling other tribes like the Jolas and Wolof to vote for President Barrow. They are doing all this just to divide us and as well create suspicion between us and the Mandinkas. Don’t allow them to divide you. We are all from Adam and Eve and they were neither Mandinka nor Fula. Tribes are subsets of humanity and were created to ease communication and nothing else,” Kandeh said.
“Voting for NPP in December is equal to taking a knife to cut your neck off. You will not say I didn’t warn you,” he warned.
Kandeh said the Fulas should be “very careful because they [NPP] have started sharing audios giving the impression that Fulas are denied from being registered when no body can deny any eligible Gambian from obtaining a voter’s card”.
“Those who are trying to discriminate between tribes want to destroy this country. We are all equal in this country and no one can stop anyone from enjoying his or her democratic rights,” he said.
Kandeh urged his fellow politicians to be mindful in their messaging as the country prepares for what could be a hard fought presidential election in December.
“I urge all genuine party leaders and supporters to be very careful about doing or saying anything that could generate unrest in this country because this year’s election will be completely different from previous elections and there will be some parties that will do everything to win. For some of us who are conscious about the potential consequences, we will need to be vigilant,” Kandeh said.
He criticised the Barrow administration for “doing very little to change the livelihoods of Gambians” since coming to power.
“The Gambia of today is in a sorry state with a tormenting level of poverty and public dissatisfaction running high. It is time we ask ourselves whether Barrow had made any difference to lives since coming to power in 2017. Have we seen a change in our hospitals and livelihoods? These are important questions we should ask ourselves before December so that we would be able to make the right choices,” he chastised.
By Mariama Jallow
The managing director of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, Abdoulie Tambedou has disclosed that state-owned enterprises owe the corporation over D2 billion.
Addressing over 500 pensioners over the weekend, Mr Tambedou said the government has accepted to only take over D810 million out of the D2.2 billion. “In April 2020, we reached an agreement with the Ministry of Finance for the government to take over a loan of D810 million owed to the cooperation by Nawec. The remaining SOEs are mainly struggling. We would continue our engagements with government in this regard,” he said.
SSHFC has gone through some difficult times under former president, Yahya Jammeh. In 2017 the corporation’s finance head Abdoulie Cham told the Janneh Commission that Jammeh’s Kanilai Group International (KGI) owed the pension’s body over USD 35 million equivalent to D 1.7 billion.
He said the impact of Covid-19 has led to heavy withdrawals of savings due to those losing their jobs.
“Since my appointment at the helm of the corporation in April 2020, I have tried to steady the ship and to make sure that the excesses of the previous regime are never repeated as per the slogan of the TRRC ‘Never Again’. We have tried to work on the trajectory of improving the financial status of the corporation to ensure that the deficits of the Actuarial valuation of 2014 of D518 million, reduced to a deficit of D29.8 million by the December 2017 valuation are improved upon in the December 2020 valuation,” he said.
Tambedou said now that the Covid-19 vaccine is being administered he is hopeful the economy will start to recover which will subsequently lead to an increase in membership in the SSHFC.
Mr Tambedou assured pensioners of his administration’s commitment to ensure excesses from the former regime will not be repeated.
Last week Abubakar Darbo of GRTS was elected as the Federated Pension Scheme representative while Mrs Memunatou Junisa Camara, of Ocean Bay Hotel was elected as the NPF representative, and Alagie Alieu Faal, a former SSHFC employee is elected to represent the pensioners.
By Alagie Manneh
The chairman of The Gambia’s hajj commission has told The Standard that Gambians intending to perform pilgrimage will likely not be allowed to perform the hajj this year.
According to the 12 June issue of Arab News, an English-language daily newspaper published in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi authorities have restricted the annual pilgrimage to 60,000 Saudi citizens and residents, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. An even smaller number of Saudi citizens and residents were allowed to perform the hajj in 2020.
Contacted for clarity on the matter, Ousman Jah, the chairman of the hajj commission said his commission is yet to receive any official correspondence from the Saudi counterparts regarding this year’s hajj.
“As an established government office, and as head of the National Hajj Commission, before I can make any official statement, it must be based on official reports or verdicts or rules. That has been the tradition every year – to wait for the Saudi authorities to notify us but so far, we haven’t heard anything yet and that’s why I believe, personally, that there will be no hajj or place for Gambian pilgrims in Saudi this year,” the Amir ul-hajj told The Standard.
He said as far as he was concerned, other countries are yet to be officially communicated to with regard to this year’s hajj.
“I know the whole nation is waiting to know something but my office is still waiting to receive official communication from the authorities.”
The amir-ul-hajj said so far, he only heard, like many other Gambians, on social media platforms that there will be no hajj this year.
“According to what I have heard, only those in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to go on the pilgrimage but I cannot give you any statement, officially, on whether hajj will be conducted or not.”
He said his office is “working tirelessly” with its line ministry to establish the correct official information.
“Once we have all the clear information, it will be disseminated to the public,” the chairman noted.
The Arab News report stated: “Saudi Arabia said it will limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministries of Health and Hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year, which will begin mid-July.
“It stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the kingdom’s vaccination measures.
“The decision is ‘based on the kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah. The kingdom puts human health and safety first,’ the ministry said.
Meanwhile, a deputy to the Hajj minister said that Saudi Arabia found great understanding from Muslim countries over the decision to limit this year’s pilgrimage participants.”
If God had asked me: “Dembo, which event in history would you have wanted to be part of?”,
i would take a mental flight to the year 1235 on the laterite plains of Manding Kangkaba.
Article 3: The five clans of marabouts are our teachers and our educators in Islam. Everyone has to hold them in respect and consideration.
They would not stop there. The right to life was guaranteed as enshrined in Article 5 of the Constitution as follows:
Article 5: Everybody has a right to life and to the preservation of physical integrity. Accordingly, any attempt to deprive one’s fellow being of life is punished with death.
Adequate legal instruments must be recommended in the TRRC’s final report to ensure that the right to life and the preservation of physical integrity are non-negotiable and cannot be subjected to even a referendum. The delegates in 1235 would even further legislate against dismembering of the dead as in Article 41:
Article 41: You can kill the enemy, but not humiliate him.
Certainly, we have all heard of the dismembering of victims during some of the TRRC sessions and this is why I believe that the Manding Constitution was light years ahead of its time.
The people would not be satisfied and would continue to enact more laws protecting women. The right to divorce, domestic violence and affirmative action to protect women and ensure their participation in all affairs of their communities as enshrined in Articles 11, 14, 15, 16 and 30.
Article 11: When your wife or your child runs away, stop running after them in the neighbour’s house.
This article clearly spoke to us on April 10 and 11 when students were shot dead most of whom from behind. The reason why Manding enacted Article 11 is that a person who is running away from you is no longer a threat to you and you must not pursue him. This provision today is, in more refined form has been used to prosecute law enforcement officers around the world. Excessive force legislation was necessary to check the likely extreme tendencies of dictators like Sumanguru Kanteh and we did not have a shortage of these trigger-happy forces that gunned down and cut short the lives of our young and bright children unto whom we would have bequeathed the affairs of the state.
Article 14: Never offend women, our mothers.
Article 15: Never beat a married woman before her husband has tried to correct the problem.
Article 16: Women, apart from their everyday occupations, should be associated with all our managements.
Article 30: In Mande, divorce is tolerated for one of the following reasons: the impotence of the husband, the madness of one of the spouses, the husband’s incapability of assuming the obligations due to the marriage. The divorce should occur out of the village.
Again they would not stop there. They knew the importance of justice but also the role reconciliation can play in bringing about good neighbourliness. Two articles standout to me. In Article 7, they people realised that after the war, and that because of the atrocities committed by Sumanguru and his agents, retribution was very likely and so they cleverly introduced Article 7, which borders on a joking relationship between families and clans and blood pacts of supporting one another. These eased tensions and improved reconciliation efforts.
Furthermore, in order to cement this effort at reconciliation, Statute of Limitation clause was introduced that after 40 years, the people must not pursue most crimes. Certainly this was a clever way of garnering acceptance to maintain peace. Article 17 therefore became necessary.
Article 17: Lies that have lived for 40 years should be considered like truths.
Just as Manding has struggled with reconciliation and justice, the TRRC must also equally strike a balance between the two and the people look forward to their report.
Article 7: The sanankunya (joking relationship) and the tanamannyonya (blood pact) have been established among the Mandinka. Consequently, any contention that occurs among these groups should not degenerate the respect for one another being the rule. Between brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, between grandparents and grandchildren, tolerance should be the principle.
They would perfect the art of diplomacy by guaranteeing the safety of diplomats and at the same time opening embassies outside of the empire.
Up until today, they produced the wealthiest man in human history. Mansa Musa was worth US$400 billion in today’s value. No one has come close to even US$300 billion, not even Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.
And of course, promoted art and music enjoyed to this day by creating a class of historians called the Jali. Sundiata understood the importance of history and during his time, the Jali did not have to worry about anything. In fact all that Sundiata inherited from his father were the Jali and the metal and wood workers. The TRRC must endeavour that not only were they charged with the task of collating an unbiased record of the past 22 years, but that will be of no use if they fail to preserve and keep the records alive as Manding did through the art of music. Perhaps, this is an opportunity to team up with the National Archives (written Records) and the National Museum for the objects and instruments that they may have collected as evidence to find ways of preserving them. The National Records Services Act has well laid out instruments in the management, custody and destruction of public records. The TRRC enjoys better funding regime than the National Archives and I believe it will be a win-win situation if the two institutions collaborate and by a secondary achievement, we can also save our written records of years gone by. We should not try to reinvent the wheel. Collaboration is called for given the limited resources as the National Archives has a new site and construction I am told is ongoing but at a slow pace.
And so my response to God would be to put me in a time machine and allow me to travel back in time and live in the year 1235 and sit either as a delegate to the KuruKan Fuga, and perhaps lobby to include the Fatty clan as part of the Marabout Clan of Manding or at a bare minimum, sit among the onlookers as the delegates try to carve out a way for the broader interest of humanity. I would love to shake hands with Sundiata Conateh, Kamanjang Camara, Farang Tunkara and Fakoli Dumbuya and all the great warriors who worked the trenches of Kirina, Daka Jalang, Kunkung Baa and the many theatres of war that ultimately led to victory. How apt that we just celebrated Memorial Day a few days ago.
How I wished that I could dance to the tune of the war veteran pacing back and forth singing:
Ateh julu baa dong nah (He will not dance the warrior’s dance)
Satewo sadaa tay julu baa dong na ( the good-for-noting son of the village or an efulefu as the Igbo would say, will not dance the warrior dance).
And so it is my fervent belief that in the recommendations by the TRRC, they will not forget a category of people mentioned briefly in lead counsel’s closing remarks bordering on summary dismissals of civil servants who were never accorded the opportunity to be heard, or hear from their accused persons. Many of these officers were dismissed with no entitlement to a pension. That is a travesty of justice for many reasons:
1. A pension is a right no matter the way or why you left office. People who have served must earn a pension in old age and by legislating that dismissed officers cannot earn a pension, these officials have been condemned twice for the same crime they may have committed if any. Not only can they not run for office but will also not qualify for a pension. I want to believe that we already have a law in place against that.
The 22 years did just that to further punish those considered as threats or those upright officials who refuse to break their oaths of office. The TRRC must recommend that the Pensions Act be revised and that every civil servant has a right to a pension even if dismissed. This clause has been used severally and the ghost of Mr Samateh, a one-time employee of the Ministry of Health kept tormenting me over the years. As a young lad at the Personnel Management Office, his story was probably the first to come under summary dismissals. Mr Samateh at the time served almost 33 years and was just about to retire when he was dismissed without an opportunity to defend himself. He lost his pension at a time when he was most vulnerable. He died soon after. I remember discussing his case with colleagues and how unfair it was. He could have just been terminated in which case he would get some severance pay but to treat a man who dedicated all his life to public service to such a harsh and humiliating manner was beyond comprehension. He was not alone. The NIA may have inflicted physical torture, but the PSC inflicted emotional torture.
2. Every citizen has a right to enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a competent court of law or in some formal hearing where he has an opportunity to represent himself or be represented. There are hundreds of civil servants who were dismissed without being given a cause and sadly, the Public Service Commission did not stand up and protect the rights of employees. They certainly looked the other way and allowed the General Orders, Public Service Commission Regulations, Pensions Act and the Public Service Act be adulterated. It is unfortunate that the TRRC did not bring into the spotlight as it did with the National Intelligence Agency, the operations of the Public Service Commission and the role it played in compromising standards. They rubber stamped every dismissal instruction and it was an open secret that whenever Pa Fatty, a messenger at State House entered The Quadrangle, all eyes were on his every move and if he passed your building, you breathe a sigh of relief that you survived that episode of dismissal. Even Jammeh jokingly talked about Pa Fatty.
Other than Ms Bertha Mboge, I cannot recall any instance in which the PSC refused an order to dismiss a public officer. Why and how the PSC officially sought audience with Jammeh to reverse his decision to dismiss her still baffles me. I guess some birds cannot be caged because their feathers are just too bright.
In 2017, an attempt was made to reinstate some officers but the scheme needs further scrutiny. Some who were reinstated were lucky to be paid their lost wages while others were not accorded the same benefit. How and why the scheme was managed should be put under the microscope because what is good for the goose is good for the gander and justice must be accorded to every Kumba, Nyonkoling and Sawalo irrespective of their stations in life, family connections or looks.
In matters of justice, the state cannot hide behind costs to dilute the reconciliation process. As far as I know, the state has not filed for bankruptcy; we are far from being a failed state and because somewhere in our Constitution I read that every person “shall be presumed innocent until he or she is proved or has pleaded guilty” then justice must be served. If I lived in North Korea, I would not mind because they have not committed themselves to the rule of law and rights of citizens.
And to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the citizens have sufficiently funded the state and it should not send back to the people a cheque marked with the words “insufficient funds”. Cost cannot be used to dilute or show indifference to the cause of a people who suffered in the hands of the very institution set up to protect them.
Many of these people are already dead and because dead people cannot file petitions to the TRRC, the TRRC must include in their recommendations on behalf of all of the aggrieved public officials who were summarily dismissed without cause and be given an opportunity to be heard; recommend an amendment of the Pensions Act to allow dismissed officials earn a pension and by extension the Social Security scheme which I am told has similar provisions. One cannot be punished twice for the same issue. Losing a job is one thing or a punishment but being denied a pension in addition, is cruel and unjust. These Acts must be amended.
Dead men cannot file petitions but these people were husbands, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of many in our society and we must bend the morale arc of justice towards them and only then will we as a society, when gathered before the God of history can, with full confidence, say that we did our best in the service of humanity and we left the world better than we inherited it.
And so when Sundiata learned to walk for the first time, the people sang:
Biwo, bika dilay (Today is a joyous day)
Madaa alaa maa mang bi nyoghong daa (God, has not created a day like today).
And so a grateful nation is singing as the TRRC begins to walk in the direction of securing justice for all and that must include the cases of dismissed public officials without cause.