Monday, March 14, 2016

Jammeh must release the Bamfor Commission Report

During the recent retreat of Jammeh’s cabinet at his home village of Kanilai, he justified the decision of the Military Council he chaired upon seizing power on humanitarian grounds and the protection of the reputation and presumably good character of the Jawara ministers whom he accused of corruption that justified the 1994 coup.

The incongruence of Jammeh’s logic is again on full display.  After railing about the corrupt nature of the Jawara regime, including Jawara, whose members and inner circle were consumed and blinded by a “flamboyant lifestyle” resulting in the impoverishment of the many by the few.  

To remind Gambians of the military regime’s disdain for these members of the privileged class and the military junta’s commitment to redressing an unacceptable and exploitative condition brought about by a corrupt regime, Jammeh loaded some of these cabinet ministers and senior civil servants in open trucks around the city of Banjul in broad daylight.  

Where is the empathy that was obviously absent in 1994? Jammeh’s regime can boast of inflicting more physical and psychological harm to Gambians than the combined toll of the Jawara and colonial administrations.   Gambians have suffered more murders, assassinations, tortures, forced disappearances and exiles than the British ever could inflict on the Gambian population even if they tried. 

It is therefore incomprehensible, illogical and an outright lie to claim that the conclusions and recommendations of the Bamfor Commission have been withheld to protect Sir Dawda Jawara’s reputation and integrity and those of his former ministers and their families by saving them from further embarrassment should the findings of the Commission be published.   This is a warped logic and therefore makes no sense.  

The justification for the coup, according to Jammeh and his colleagues, was “rampant corruption” and the “flamboyant lifestyle” led by Jawara and his ministers.  What sense does it make to suppress publication of a Commission’s Report that was created by law with the proviso that its findings must be made public.  The mere act of not going public is contravention of the law, not that it matters to a dictator to contravene the law.    

Based on reports, the Bamfor Commission found that corruption was not endemic as claimed by Jammeh and his group of power hungry putschists to warrant removing a legitimately elected government.   To accuse the ousted government of corruption would guarantee quicker acceptance of the junta by populace than to complain about maltreatment of Gambian soldiers at the hands of the Nigerian army commanders who were running the Gambian army under a bilateral technical cooperation arrangement basis.  

Why were they - Jammeh and his cohorts - advised to lie about the true reason for the coup by “dishonest Gambians” – to borrow Ebrima Chongan’s description, one of the few Gambian military officers who resisted the coup – some of whom are still active in one way or the other in the affairs of the Jammeh regime.  Without their role as advisers to the young, inexperienced and ill-educated soldiers on how to cling on to power for longer than required, Jammeh and his fellow putschists would not have entrenched themselves in power for twenty two years and counting. 

The Bamfor Commission’s Report’s conclusions and recommendations were suppressed and never made public to this day, despite many demands from Omar Jallow (OJ) a former minister in the Jawara government.  The refusal to comply is because it’s conclusions did not support the reasons advanced by Jammeh justifying the coup.  He lied then.  He’s lying now.  His condition is pathological.