Gambia: Letter: William Arthur Marina International High School Principal Goes to High Court with all the Marina Family over the Expulsion of Alhagie Sankung Sillah a form 2 Student


William Arthur Marina International High School Principal Goes to High Court with all the Marina Family over the Expulsion of Alhagie Sankung Sillah a form 2 Student

Written By Mustapha .F. Dauda 

Dear Pa,

As a teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience, I wish to express my personal view over this epoch making scenario enfolding in our new democracy.

The facts are that in February 2019, there was a cross country race for all the high school students which started by 4pm and was to end just after 5pm.

Alhagie Sankung Sillah a form 2 pupil just 13 years old came with a group of friends not Marina Students in a car and with him in the drive seat, stunting and driving recklessly, endangering the lives of neighbours, MRC Workers and fellow students. He stopped briefly and the schools chief security Mr. Jallow who know Alhagie Sankung Sillah very well since Junior school, ran to the car to warn him to stop and that he will report him to the authorities. A teacher in the high school who was also on security duty assigned by the principal rushed to the same car to warn him to stop.

He immediately reversed from where he was briefly parked,and sped off to the jeering of his schoolmates with a middle finger stocked out through the window, meaning ‘fuck you’!

The teacher and the chief security wrote their report and submitted it to Mr. Arthur the principal who extensively consulted with the chairperson of the board Justice Naceesay Sallah Wadda and other board members on his decision to expel Alhagie Sankung Sillah over that week end.

The decision to expel him was arrived at based on the schools  code of conduct given to all pupils in September 2018 by Mrs. Sonko the deputy head pastoral for parents to sign.

The Mom Kineh was duly informed and given 2 weeks to appeal.

She came to school on a Friday complaining and causing a scene over the fact that the principal announced the expulsion in an assembly when it should have been secret.

Teachers like Mr. Mbowe, a head of department tried to calm her down and appealed to her to be peaceful but she created an awkward scene that morning raining insults at Mr. Arthur, “you are a foreigner, who are you to announce my son’s name in assembly- I will teach you a lesson “- this I heard her say!

She later on Monday met the chairperson at her office in Banjul to plead that it’s not her Son. The chairperson assured her that she will investigate if it wasn’t Alhagie Sankung Sillah on the drive seat, the decision will be reversed.

The chairperson, a reputable Justice, saw the overwhelming evidence that it was Alhagie Sankung Sillah, identified by fellow students who jeered and shouted his name as he committed the offence, the chief security’s statement and that of a teacher.

The chairperson upheld the expulsion decision.

A week after, a Nigerian lawyer Mene , hired by Kineh brought an injunction to the school from the High court from Judge Abubakarr Jaiteh that ” Alhagie Sankung Sillah be allowed back to school until the matter is heard on the 18th of March.

The principal Mr. Arthur sent the injunction to the chairperson for onward submission to the school lawyer Borry Touray.

The injunction was brought by lawyer Mene on a Thursday by 2pm and on Friday morning, Alhagie Sankung Sillah was brought by a bailiff to school escorted by the Mom Kineh and daughter. The principal refused to allow the pupil to class taking them to his air conditioned office and sought the opinions of the school board chairperson and lawyer who supported the decision not to allow the pupil to class.

The bailiff called judge Abubakar Jaiteh , to report the refusal of the principal to allow the pupil, he asked, to talk to the principal who refused to talk to him.

The bailiff left with the pupil, his Mom and sister only to come back with an invitation for the principal to attend a court sitting by 1pm that Friday afternoon. Upon consultations, the principal refused to go on the grounds that the school is “incorporated ” as a private entity. If there should be a legal action, “it should be MARINA, as an entity duly registered in the Gambia but not William Arthur.

The bailiff left only to come back with judge Abubakarr Sillah’s oddly’s (about 4 paramilitary men) in his official vehicle with number plates removed to arrest the principal for ” violating court order”.

The principal asked for the arrest warrant which was not available. He sought permission to close down the school and inform the teaching staff of his arrest. Lawyer Jaiteh’s orderlies were so unprofessional that, they wanted to bundle the principal into their unnumbered vehicle that made students and teachers resist.

Suspicious of lawyer Jaiteh’s behavior not using the Sheriff department, using his orderlies  to effect arrest with an unnumbered vehicle, passing an injunction without hearing from the school, the teaching staff of both the Junior and High school of Marina decided to escort Mr. Arthur their principal who took over in September 2018 from Mr. Musa O. Sanneh upon his retirement. He is child oriented and a brilliant academician who has achievement so much in such a short period of time. For example, having CCTV cameras in all classes and around the campus to curb crimes such as classroom disruption, gambling, stabbings (for which 2 students were expelled last year), teacher letter’s and placing projectors in all classes at the high school and forcing all teachers to learn at the expense of the school on how to use projectors in order to make learning interesting.

At the high court that after he was asked to pay a bail bond of D3 million by Lawyer Abubakarr Jaiteh for refusing court order, but the school lawyer Borry was able to argue the biased nature of the injunction, and secured a “self bail” for the principal on the conditions then Alhagie Sankung Sillah should return back to school unimpeded until hearing on the 18th March.

The teaching staff met that same Friday evening and resolved that, they will not come to school if Alhagie Sankung Sillah is to show up. The school board had an emergency meeting on Saturday and called up an emergency PTA meeting to decide on the matter.

It was resolved at that meeting that Alhagie Sankung Sillah is no more a student of Marina and the decision is final. Petitions were written by over 350 parents to that effect. They also decided to have the school closed for 2 days to see how they can convince the parents to see reason not to disrupt the school’s smooth running.

On Monday the 18th March, 2019, the case between judge Abubakarr Jaiteh /Sankunkung Sillah and Principal Arthur will come up by 9:30am at the high court of the Gambia. The teaching staff, parents and students have all decided to show solidarity to Mr. Arthur and the need to uphold discipline by going to the high court on Monday.

Questions to ponder over! Gambia’s constitution gives the right to education for every child including Alhagie Sankung Sillah but did it say “at Marina”?

Kineh’s children, Mahmoud Sillah had many, many disciplinary issues though he managed to complete form 5, Fatou Sillah was OK up till her completion of 6th from. Sheriff Sillah was worst. His parents were asked to withdraw him from Marina in form 2 after so many, many suspensions. He was withdrawn and taken to Sebecs international School. That same year, he was expelled for …. related crime. Alhagie Sankung Sillah has not passed a single test or exam in Marina School, he disrupts lessons and he is very disrespectful to teachers. Is this a good history of Kineh’s boy’s? Please come to Marina or go to Sebecs international school to confirm.

Why should Lawyer Abubakarr Jaiteh use the tactics of yesterday, biased injunction, using orderlies to arrest, using an unnumbered judiciary vehicle, is he showing personal interest?

What is the interest of lawyer Jaiteh in implementation of discipline in schools? How about the Ministry of basic and secondary education?

Why the Principal in court and not Marina International school as a private entity?

You are all welcome to the high court on Monday the 18th to hear judge Abubakarr Jaiteh help us answer some if these questions.

Editors: The views expressed by the author do not represent the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention. 

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