It has been our contention from the onset that the Lead Counsel at the Janneh Commission Amie Bensouda, is a “conflicted lawyer”—given her past interactions with some of the witnesses being called before the Commission. It is only in the Gambia that such an appointment can be made without been challenged in the courts by those being summoned before the Janneh Commission for allegedly aiding and abetting the exiled Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh in his economic crimes against our nation. Her past role as Counsel for Social Security, Gamtel, Gamcel, KMC and the host of other parastatals during Jammeh’s rule, has rendered her impartiality as an independent Lead Counsel for the Commission into question. There is what they called in law “conflict of interest.” Ms. Bensouda should know better.
Ethically speaking, Commission members are obliged to make disclosures about any potential conflict of interest that might exist or arise prior to their appointments or during the due execution of their duties. One does not need to be told to recuse him, or herself if he, or she is honest to the country and her people. Common sense dictates that conflict of interest is an affront to the administration of justice.
The arbitrary firing of the Commission’s Executive Secretary Alhagie Mamadi Kurang was a poor judgment on side of the powers that be. Kurang’s only perceived crime was for merely raising the alarm bell about Ms. Bensouda’s alleged behind the scene moves to circumvent the Commission’s order restraining parties from disposing, transferring or selling the attached properties of dictator Jammeh. He has alleged in his petition letter that Bensouda was in secret talks with the former Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh, regarding the sale of Jammeh’s vehicles and cattle. A claim Bensouda has denied.
If an official of Kurang’s caliber, questions the integrity of the Lead Counsel Bensouda, what we expect from the government is to probe into the veracity of Kurang’s allegations than pushing him outside of the door. Kurang’s petition was never given the attention it deserves.
Interestingly, Lead Counsel Bensouda, has the audacity to call for the replacement of Kurang, including her humble self, on the basis that their continued presence at the Commission, would not be in the best interest of the nation; and yet she is still working. She made the proposal to AG Baa Tambadou and Commission Chairman Suharata Janneh. Yet, she never vacated her office. She was also not fired.
Baa Tambadou told journalists during a recent press conference that Kurang’s allegations against Bensouda were “unsubstantiated” hence he said, Kurang’s position at the Janneh Commission was untenable.
In other words, Kurang was shown the exit door without been availed with the opportunity to defend his allegations against Bensouda. Baa ruled that Kurang has allegedly soiled the reputation of Amie Bensouda. Though, we do not know how he got to that conclusion without having an impartial task force to handle the complaint Kurang has filed against Bensouda.
It is imperative to note that neither Justice Minister Tambadou, nor the Secretary General Habib Drammeh, have the moral fortitude to pass judgment on the case of Alhagie Kurang—given the content of that damning petition which has implicated the Justice Ministry, including SG Drammeh. It is also our contention that Commission Chairman Janneh lacks the moral fortitude to pass ruling on Kurang’s complaint.
Kurang’s petition is a cumbersome one. It affects the AG Chambers, the SG’s Office, Counsel Amie Bensouda, the Janneh Commission and its staff; and the former Minister of Finance Amadou Sanneh. Amie Bensouda’s law firm is also at the center of the allegations.
It is prudent for the authorities to avoid such power excesses. No one in this country is above the law. Amie Bensouda ought to have been placed on an administrative leave, pending the outcome of any legitimate probe that has been initiated by the regime. But this style of arbitrary gangster mob justice, has no place in the new Gambia. Kurang is being crucified because of his courageous move to expose what he believes is ethically and morally wrong.
The regime is apparently siding with Ms. Bensouda without getting to the bottom of Kurang’s ethical complaint against the Lead Counsel. This is absurd Gambia.
Similar mistreatment was meted out to the fired former Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo. When Jawo stood up to the mafia’s quest to award the Gamtel gateway management project to a company believed to have been favored by the former Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh, he was designated as an obstructionist by the mafia. Jawo was let go, when Barrow recently made that major cabinet reshuffle.
Bensouda’s son has ties with the said company. Bensouda is also Gamtel’s retained lawyer.
President Adama Barrow must demonstrate that he is serious about combating official graft. He is running the country as if there are no laws frowning at corruption.
Corrupt officials are being rewarded in the form of promotion or elevation of their status, while whistle-blowers are being fired from the government unjustly. This is dead wrong.
We implore on the regime to look into Kurang’s petition. It should not be buried under the carpet. Kurang should be reinstated in the interest of justice. We rest our case.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai