Isn’t is said that you should “forgive others as quickly as you expect Allah to forgive you”? Much pain has been given to Gambians during the Jammeh presidency. Too many people have suffered the humiliation of wrongful dismissals, arrests, torture, illegal long detention, kangaroo judgement and wrongful imprisonment. None dare advice or help President Jammeh understand what he was doing was wrong. In fact, if ever any dared, the person is fired, arrested in strange hours of the night and detained in unknown locations until His Excellency gives directives for your release. Many have suffered. Many.
The GNPC case is a clear case of fraud by His Excellency the President. Those accused today have all been following strictly a sanctioned procedure to procure petrol from any competitive and responsive company. The team made their meetings and forwarded all recommendations to the Honourable Minister Sira Wally Ndow, who presented everything to His Excellency. The latter approved all the stages of the processes and the team, knowing they have the Executive approvals, continued their stages on the procurement procedures, respecting every regulation therein.
The finally identified March Company, negotiated with them and concluded the deal. This was the period 2014-2015. Since the company was providing the fuel. Until Mr Mohammed Bazzi entered the scene. This influential businessman visits the President regularly and mostly when he has deals he wishes to make with H.E. Mostly these deals are conducted in private but not without the knowledge of insiders at State House. It is believed that Bazzi arranges certain deals, not quite honest and proper but where H.E. receives lucrative deals. It is on one of these occasions, that Bazzi complained that the petroleum contract should have been his but the committee refused to give it to him despite being the one with the best quality petrol.
In fact, he said that the company that won the contract is being served by his company and reselling at a higher rate to The Gambia, information he knew was false. Jammeh immediately pounced on these innocent committee members: arrested them, detained them, and charged them with economic crime none of them committed. Being in a country where those who know the truth cannot say it, these people have been suffering since some of them refused bail and being detained at the remand wind of Mile 2. Please, President Jammeh, drop all the charges so that we can start the healing process…
About 25 civil servants were arrested and detained on the day before Koriteh in early July 2016, and that night they discovered over the GRTS news that they have all been sacked and detained for conniving and selling by auction more than 500 government vehicles that are in good shape. They are believed to have sold them for a little above GMD4 million dalasi. The next they, these detained civil servants, comprising of permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, principal assistant secretaries, assistant secretaries and drivers, were shocked to hear over the TV H.E. telling the Imams that there was a well-crafted plot to steal the proceeds of the auction of these vehicles and he will make sure that all those found guilty shall be charged with corruption. After about a month’s detention, the group is paraded in court and charged abuse of office for identifying the wrong vehicles for auction; and negligence of duty for not contracting a mechanic to do so.
The irony in the matter is that, none of these charges are factual. No civil servant, from the Minister to the driver, is required to contract a mechanic to confirm a vehicle is not road worthy. In fact, before a vehicle is considered NOT roadworthy, these will already be signs that will indicate this: Bad engine causing consistent and more frequent breakdowns; or serious accident causing complete damage of the vehicle. Mostly, government vehicles purchased by Ministries, Departments or Agencies/Enterprises (MDA), are very frequently commissioned by the Office of the President and kept for weeks or months before they are returned. In most cases, these vehicles would have suffered mishandling causing sometimes serious damages to these vehicles and the Office of the President NEVER keeps their promise (if any is lucky to have it) to repair the damaged vehicles. As most of these institutions, particularly the Ministries, have only a small allocation in their Maintenance of Vehicles vote in their budget, when they can no longer sustain the maintenance of one or two vehicles, they will park them. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is responsible for all government assets so they will regularly write to the MDAs to declare derelict vehicles and unused items. The ‘unused items’ refer to all government property that has been used and not usable any longer such as damaged furniture, computers, UPSs, etc etc…
In 2014, almost all the ministries were asked to submit these items and they did. In June 2016, all permanent secretaries and people believed to be involved in identifying the vehicles were called at the NIA, interrogated, detain for a day and released after they submitted all their documents. Three weeks later, most of these people were arrested and detained, few hours before the Korite prayers and festivities were to start in family. It devastated many families and caused many children, of these innocent parents, to cry instead of being joyful on ALLAH’s chosen day for every Muslim to be happy. Perhaps the President expected to be begged – which he insinuated in his korite message to the elders of Banjul – but he was impervious to the plight of these innocent fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, of people of all ages, who were eagerly waiting for them to share in the festivities. The two counts they are charged does NOT fall under their mandate and some of them in fact were merely asked by either their PS or DPS to identify the vehicles to be hauled. These poor innocent people are still being humiliated in court on bogus charges when their families, who need them more because many of them are the bread winners of their families, continue to suffer in silence. Please President Jammeh drop all the charges and release them immediately and reinstate them backdated from the date they were dismissed, in the spirit of healing.
The First Lady, Zeinab Jammeh, was to leave for the Umra in Saoudi Arabia in June 2016. One of the State Aircrafts, which are in bad shape, was in France undergoing maintenance. Once it was ready, it left for The Gambia. Getting closer to destination, it experiences loss of air pressure. However, the pilots believed as they were near, they will handle it on the ground once they are landed.
Upon arrival, they informed the people that matter some of whom are: GCAA DG Abdoulie Jammeh, GIA Finance Director Ebrima Sallah, Accountant Abdoulie Trawally and Sulayman Njie of the GIA. The GIA therefore advised that it was prudent to allow the maintenance to take place before the First Lady use it. This information seemed to have infuriated the First Lady and the husband became pissed off. He asked the NIA to arrest these people and they were dismissed and detained for more than two months before they were released on self-bail. The only thing wrong they did was to ensure the aircraft is safe before the First Family is allowed to use it. Please President Jammeh drop all the charges and release them immediately and reinstate them backdated from the date they were dismissed, in the spirit of healing.
Many people have been wronged. Some have been remanded for many years without being tried. Others have been imprisoned on false charges and some were detained and tortured. Ambassador Sarjo Jallow, who was once appointed Deputy Minister was arrested less than a week following the appointment and still in detention at the NIA. The former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health has been arrested by the Police and still detained. These people have not ben charged. The list goes on. Please Mr President Jammeh, start somewhere and begin to drop all charges.
When a truth and reconciliation commission to be set up soon, some of these issues will come to light. President Jammeh has the possibility now to correct these wrongs before his mandate is over. It will win him much sympathy, which he needs. If he believes he has not wronged anybody, then he can continue to ignore this and the new president will drop all the charges, making him look like the wicked person. He would find little sympathy from these families.
By Sheriff Bah – A concerned citizen, Talinding