Conflict of interest and allegations of corruption have emerged at Gambia’s National Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission (TRRC) ahead of the Commission’s first public sittings due later next week, FREEDOM NEWSPAPER CAN REVEAL. One of the Commission Members Mam Mustapha Kah, has allegedly received funding from the TRRC for a debate platform, through a charitable organization registered in his name. Banjul Open Debate is a registered pro-democracy organization linked to the TRRC Commissioner. Public debates have been organized by the group about the role of the TRRC and how former alleged offenders should be treated.
A source writing to us from Banjul said: “A Commissioner at the TRRC Mam Mustapha Kah gets funding for a debate platform through a charitable organization registered in his name. Is that not a story worth following? This happens in the face of the fact that there is a bigger debate platform exists. There is a conflict of interest or potential kickbacks.”
“The allegations are that the TRRC is funding the ongoing debate and I would not deny it because you look at the themes they are addressing; you can get a clue that TRRC has a stake in this,” our source added.
Our source alleged that a similar conflict of interest is happening at the Constitutional Review Commission. We will investigate his claims in our subsequent findings.
Mam Mustapha Kah is a former University of The Gambia law graduate. He contested the past National Assembly elections, but he lost.
Allegations are abound that Mr. Kah and his Banjul Open Debate organization are cashing into the TRRC funds, while he (Kah) continues to serve as a TRRC Commissioner. If the allegations are confirmed, then the credibility of the TRRC is at stake.
Mr. Kah was contacted for comment via his Facebook messenger. Below is the journalistic query that was sent to him:
Good evening Mr. Kah:
A story has been brought to our attention. It has to do with an organization called: The Banjul Open Debate.
Are you affiliated to the said organization?
If yes, under what capacity?
Has Banjul Open Debate ever received funding from the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) to engage in public outreach activities?
It is our understanding that the Banjul Open Debate Organisation is being funded by the TRRC to organize debates. How true is this?
Given your membership with the TRRC, does this not amounts to conflict of interest?
Grateful, if you can shed light on the story. Thanks.
In response Mr. Kah said: “Thanks bro for the information. Can we talk about this? Let chat on Whatsapp. I need to explain certain things.”
We placed phone calls to Mr. Kah’s Whatsapp number, but he was indisposed for comment.
Kah later reached us via Facebook messenger and said: “ We are in the finals of the debate. I will get back to you later.”
Mr. Kah did not confirm or deny the story. His colleague Baba Galleh Jallow, the Executive Secretary of the TRRC was also reached for comment via email and Facebook messenger. Jallow is yet to respond to our journalistic query.
In another development, the TRRC Executive Secretary Baba Galleh Jallow has responded to our query. “Dear Pa, thanks for your questions. The funding of this open debate on the TRRC is by the UNDP Transitional Justice Project, not the TRRC. It is part of the UNDP’s support to the Gambia’s transitional justice program. So the funds used are not from TRRC coffers but from the UNDP. Since we are not funding this project, I do not see a conflict of interest. Hope this helps,” Dr. Jallow said.