Sunday, May 19, 2019

Madam Attorney General, please resign (Re-publication)

This is a republication of a blog post first published
exactly three years ago today 19th May, 2016.  So it
incorrect to say that I was picking on Ba Tambadou
the current Ag and Minister of Justice.
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Mama Fatima Singhateh, Attorney General and Minister of Justice 
The political turmoil that besets the country could have been averted if there were principled and courageous leadership within the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Unfortunately, the legal office of the regime lacks both leadership and direction. Instead, the Attorney General elects to have her office run from Kanilai village and not from Marina Parade in Banjul.

When Ousianou Darboe was arrested and thrown behind the police van, together with dozens of his party executives and supporters for simply exercising their inherent right under law, and subsequently charged with inciting violence, rioting and other trumped-up charges, the Attorney General could not follow the law because she allowed herself to be dictated to by Yaya Jammeh.

Together with her Director of Public Prosecution, S. H. Barkum - who should also resign and return to Nigeria - they concocted frivolous charges they hung around the necks of innocent persons at the instructions of Yaya Jammeh who has effectively used the judiciary as a potent weapon against his real and perceived political enemies and the competition in the private sector.

At a recently held meeting at the Justice Ministry in which both the Chief Justice and the Solicitor General (who also ended up being fired), the Attorney General was advised to drop all charges against ALL protester demonstrators, including, of course Ousainou Darboe.  She wasn't having none of it because she doesn't have the courage to face Jammeh with the right advise that the charges were frivolous and Ousainou and co should be freed.

The same sentiments - that these men and women are innocent - were expressed by Justice Ottaba who was assigned the case in an online radio interview. In fact, he editorialized that to treat Ousainou in the manner that Gambians witnessed, and a senior member of the Bar, at that, was "embarrassing"and he suggested a political solution to what he saw, and correctly so, as a purely political matter.

Justice Ottaba did the right thing by recusing himself from the case and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice did the wrong thing again.  Missing yet another opportunity of redeeming herself, she continues to press on with a case that any lawyer worth his or her salt knows these are trumped-up charges to please Yaya Jammeh.

Most of those arrested have suffered not only injustices in the form of false charges, most have suffered physical violence at the hands of the security personnel.  Solo Sandeng has lost his life which the regime is denying even though neither the Attorney General and Minister of Justice nor the Interior Ministry can produce evidence to the contrary.  This regime continues to lie and the Attorney General continue to help in the concealment of the truth.

Fatomatta Jawara, Nogoi Njie and Fatou Camara were all tortured.  Some, if not all, were allegedly raped.  When they appeared in court for the first time a couple of weeks ago, all three showed visible signs of torture.  As we speak a husband and wife and their 4-week old baby are all in remand and have been denied bail.  Despite all this, Mama Fatima Singhateh, whom we presume is also a mother, is still blind to the fact that Gambians are being abused, their human rights trampled upon, beaten, sexually assaulted by Yankuba Badjie's torturers, killed and maimed.

What will it take, Mama?  What will it take?  I think we have reached a point where the honorable thing for you to do is to resign.  I am sorry to be saying this because I know you are better than that but, from my vantage point, you are an utter disgrace to Gambians at home and abroad.

Yaya Jammeh is not worth it.  R-E-S-I-G-N

Friday, May 10, 2019

Who owns the assets of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd and who is benefiting?

A December 10th, 2015 post,  A republication.
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Hon. Samba Jallow, NRP
The subject of our immediate past blog post which you can find here concerned the issue of the treatment of the proceeds of the mining sector in the 2016 Budget proposals that is before the National Assembly - a question raised by Hon. Samba Jallow who is Minority Leader and Member of the National Reconciliation Party.

The Minority Leader's contention is that the mining sector generates revenue and yet there is nowhere in the budget that reflects this fact.

The Assembly Member also raised other issues, including salary increase for cabinet ministers and questions about the agriculture sector which he feels has been neglected by the regime of Yaya Jammeh.

In response to the Assembly Member's question, the Finance Minister denied that there has been salary increases for cabinet ministers.  He also assured the National Assembly that the "government through the Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC) provided adequate funding for the purchase of farmer's nuts" without being specific about the year he's referencing.  It must also be noted that GGC is now part of a new entity named National Food Security Processing and Marketing Corporation.

However, the Minister of Finance failed to respond to the Minority Leader's primary concern about the omission of mining sector in the budget proposal.  Failure to address the Assembly Member's concern about the mining sector suggests that the minister is concealing something from the Gambian people. We are, therefore, rephrasing Hon. Samba Jallow's question : Who owns the assets of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd., who is benefiting and why it is not featured in the 2016 Draft Budget Estimates.

Revenue from mining not reflected in 2016 budget, claims opposition National Assembly Member? -- Re-publication

Republication of an issue that still needs answers,
first published in December 10th, 2015 and still relevant
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Finance Minister Abdou Kolley
Hon. Samba Jallow, NRP
Hon. Samba Jallow, the National Reconstruction Party's Member of the National Assembly revealed in a newspaper interview that although the mining sector "is a revenue earning source, it could not be found in the budget" and he wants to know why from the Minister of Finance who tabled the 2015 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly.

As far was we can tell, The Gambia, under the dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh has entered into one known mining contract with an Australian-based firm which has ended in arbitration.  The Carnegie Mineral (Gambia) Limited took its case to the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investments Disputes (ICSID) in Washington for breach of contract which ruled in Carnegie's favor by awarding it approximate $ 22 million in damages plus cost.  The Gambia is appealing the decision.

All of the information used in this blog and previous blogs came not from the government of the Gambia but from either the parent company of Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd or the ICSID sources.  It is therefore not a surprise that a Member of The Gambian National Assembly is demanding transparency from a regime - including the Joint Parliamentary Committee PAC/PEC - that claims to be transparent.

The regime is obviously sitting on information that Gambians are entitled to.  Although Carnegie Mineral has been expelled from the Gambian and its assets seized by government, mining operations still continue in numerous sites.  The question is who owns the assets and how are the proceeds from the mining operations treated in the budget.  Are the assets owned and operated by government or have ownership been transferred to an entity owned by Yaya Jammeh?

In addition to the heavy metal mining activities, the sand mining operations, like the petroleum sector, are also shrouded in secrecy.  Are the owned by government or private concerns and how are proceed from these operations treated in the budget?  The National Assembly Member deserves an answer and so do Gambians in general on the mining sector.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Editorial: We prefer civility and goodwill to acrimony and vengeance

We first publish this editorial on 26th December, 2016
which we wish to share with our new readers.
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Sidi Sanneh 
At this critical point in our politics, persons wishing to join the progressive forces of positive political change must be encouraged.  In particular, former APRC officials, supporters and ordinary citizens ready and willing to add their voices to those of us asking Jammeh to step down must be embraced.  We must bring as many of them into the fold as we possibly can prior to the 18th January deadline.  Jammeh's refusal will inevitably lead to the loss of life, as well as destruction of property which we must try to avoid.

Our immediate goal as a country, therefore, should be to do everything humanly possible to avert military intervention that can only set us back even further than necessary.

The 22-year record the Jammeh regime will be bequeathing the next generation of Gambians is a challenge of herculean proportion that will require a conducive business and political environment to successfully address these difficult challenges.  Peaceful and orderly transfer of power must, therefore, be the main preoccupation of not only the incoming administration but of every Gambian.  And Jammeh is the main obstacle to achieving this goal.

We can only measure up to the challenges confronting us in these consequential moments if our parochial and/or partisan instincts are in check to prevent them from clouding our judgment. Jammeh's 22-year presidency has so negatively and profoundly transformed Gambian society that nearly every aspect of the social fabric holding our communities together is fractured and can disentangle, threatening the social cohesion Jammeh inherited when he seized power in 1994.

If we fail, it will be catastrophic for a country that once prides itself of having pulled itself by the bootstrap from the status of an "improbable nation" to one that held great hope and promise among the community of nations.  We must restore our lost national pride by first coming to terms with the magnitude of the problem we will be inheriting from the 22-year dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh.

In moving forward, we must do so in civility and goodwill and not in acrimony and vengeance.  We fought Yaya Jammeh to return the rule of law and the reestablishment of our civil liberties guaranteed under law.  These guaranteed rights etched in our Constitution apply to every Gambian and non-Gambian alike, without exemption,

While appealing to our compassionate senses of fair play, we want to make clear that we are not advocating immunity from the law for anyone because no one is above the law and that applies to Amadou Samba and any other Gambian businessman or businesswoman who've had business dealings with Yaya Jammeh.  In an environment where the rule of law prevails, every Gambian is entitled to his or her day in a regular court of law and Mr. Samba is no exception.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Jammeh admits Solo Sandeng died in his custody and said let Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International "go to hell."

Re-publication of a blog post first published
on May 30th, 2016
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Jammeh during the 2011 presidential elections day 
Yaya Jammeh has admitted in a Jeune Afrique magazine interview that Solo Sandeng, the opposition United Democratic Party's youth leader, died while in the custody of his notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

After weeks of denials from his ministers and supporters, both at home and abroad, while accusing his opponents of falsely reporting Mr. Sandeng's death to tarnish the image of his regime.

Reacting to both the United Nations Office of Human Rights and Amnesty International's call for an impartial and thorough investigation of the death in custody of all those thought to have been tortured to death while in the custody of the NIA, Jammeh was quoted as saying " I don;t see the point", referring to the calls for independent investigations.  He continued "people die in custody or during interrogations, its really common."

The callousness of one of Africa's most brutal tyrant was in full display when he wonder why all the fuss from the international community, particularly from the United Nation's and Amnesty International, when, in Jammeh's deranged mind " [T]his time, there is only one dead and they want an investigation?  I will not," declared Jammeh.   In fact, according to Jeune Afrique, Jammeh was quoted as saying "both Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International can go to hell."

Amnesty International is expected t release its report on the human rights condition in the Gambia on the eve of the Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State scheduled to take place in Dakar this weekend. Human rights activists are also converging in Dakar for an International Civil Society Forum on The Gambia to create a common framework and to project a common position in promoting human rights and the rule of law in The Gambia.


What is behind Darboe's bail appeal adjournment - Re-publication

This is a re-publication of an issue first published
on 30th May, 2016.
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Ousainou Darboe 
It has not been a good year for Yaya Jammeh so far.  The borders between The Gambia and Senegal have been closed from mid-February to last week, bringing to a close what ended up being a three-month stand-off.

To add to Jammeh's woes, the month-long protest demonstrations by the opposition United Democratic Party of Ousainou Darboe that threatened Jammeh's faltering regime.

The death in custody of Solo Sandeng which the regime denied but later admitted by Jammeh in a Jeune Afrique interview, led Ousinadou Darboe to lead his own protest against the deaths, tortures and the arrests of dozens of members f the opposition and its supporters.  The recently passed electoral laws designed to render many political parties ineffective to compete agisnt the ruling APRC have been the main reason for the demonstrations which were quelled by excessive use of force which led to a world-wide condemnation from the United States, the United Nations and European Union.

The violence against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators led the European Parliament to pass a strong resolution not only condemning the regime of Yaya Jammeh for excessive use of force but also proposed to its members state to consider targeted sanctions against key personnel of Jammeh's administration.  Other non-humanitarian sanctions were also recommended.

Jammeh also suffered defeat at the hands of ECOWAS when it decided to throw out Jammeh's complaint against Senegal over the birder closure when it was cited for non-observance of the regional body's protocol.  Jammeh failed to complete the process that would have rendered effective the transit protocol between Senegal and The Gambia.

The Jammeh regime has come under tremendous pressure and had opened itself to further international ridicule and outright scorn as a result of the unforced errors his incompetent regime has committed in the first half of the year.  Therefore, Jammeh needs some positive news to counter-balance all the negative and humiliating publicity that threatens his grip on power.  Enters the Ousianou Darbor case.

Jammeh has been heavily criticized, albeit privately, from his own judiciary that the case involving Ousianou Darboe and co is a one of heavy-handedness.   His Solicitor General advised that the state doesn't have a case against them, he ended up being fired.  The Chief Justice expressed similar sentiments, he was also fired only for his Attorney General and Minister of Justice to convince his to rescind the letter of dismissal - at least temporarily.   The last we heard, the Chief Justice has gone to his native Nigeria leaving the entire judiciary is more disarray.

Jammeh news some good news and he finds it in Ousainou Darboe case whose bail appeal was adjourned until 26th June to buy the dictator time.  What he plans on doing is to drag it up until the end of the Month of Ramadan when he will convene a big meeting of the Banjul Mullahs and the Supreme Islamic Council hypocrites when he will announce the "pardoning" of Ousainou and his supporters as a gesture of reconciliation.

This grandiose plan will sit well with his supporters but not with Ousainou or his supporters because the bigger problem - electoral reform - would not have been addressed by "pardoning" someone who should not have been arrested in the first place.