Barely 72 hours after United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 of his supporters were slapped with 3-year jail term by a Nigerian judge, Gambia is facing uproar over a court verdict that has triggered widespread confusion and outrage.
“This wasn’t a trial. It was a farce and an attempt by the criminal regime of Yahya Jammeh to thumb its nose at The Gambian people in particular and the wider international community who are adamant that the government fully account for its murderous conduct surrounding the peaceful events of April 14th and 16th,” said UDP in a statement issued late Wednesday.
Gambia’s biggest opposition party faulted President Yahya Jammeh regime for the jailing of their leader and dozens of party members. They were found guilty for organizing a protest march in April. Solo Sandeng, a youth activist who spearheaded the campaign for. The verdict ended an unprecedented legal battle that was punctuated with the decision of the defense team to withdraw from the trial after claiming that their clients were “denied due process”.
In what may be an attempt to stand firm on their ground, UDP stated that they will endure whatever comes their way in their justified pursuit of the freedom and justice they know our people deserve.
As the country’s authorities are showing no sign of backing down, Mai Ahmad Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) reacted to the verdict in strong terms: “Justice was violently raped today,” he said. He then called for a “practical response”.
Assan Martin, a human rights lawyer, blamed Nigerian judges whom he said are being used as ‘tools’ by the regime to oppress the Gambian people.
He described the judgement as a ” grave travesty of justice” passed against innocent citizens whose aims was to demand electoral reforms.“The regime has no regard to rule of law and is acting with impunity,“ he told this reporter.
To many observers the verdict has provoked chains of resentment directed against Nigerian nationals serving in the country’s judiciary. “We will continue to explore all possible means to end this ongoing repression in the Gambia. It is high time to put an end to the collusion between Yahya Jammeh and mercenary judges from Nigeria,” he added.
However, Alagi Yorro Jallow, a former managing editor and co-proprietor at The Independent (a newspaper closed down by the regime) said Gambians have nobody to blame but themselves.
“The Gambian People are responsible for their predicament and not the ” mercenary judges,the Gambia has long tradition of recruiting foreign judges since PPP,“ he said in a post on his Facebook page.
“The ” mercenary judges” are not responsible for our problem instead the person who hires, recruits them ,Yahya Jammeh,“ said Jallow. He
then indicated that most of them were recruited from the ranks of the Nigerian judiciary due to a shortage of domestic expertize since the first Republic.
A situation inherited by the current regime and which appeared to be less worse than what is going on.
The tiny West African nation is ruled with an iron fist by President Yahya Jammeh who seized power in a miilitary coup. His 22nd -year rule has been marred by gross accusations of human rights violations. He has vowed to “kill trouble makers and politicians” as “nothing will come of it…”
Written by Abdoulie JOHN