Open Letter to Hon. Musa Amul Nyassi, Chairman National Assembly select committee on Local Governance and Ombudsman matters.
Attention: President Adama Barrow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, My Lord the Chief Justice of the Gambia, All Honourable National Assembly Members and the Chairman National Human Rights Commission.
I wish to bring to the attention of your revered select committee, my persistent victimisation story; apparently sanctioned by senior state officials spear headed by the Secretary General and Head of the civil service Ebriama o Camara; on the 2nd November 2017; I applied for voluntary retirement and requested for my unpaid entitlements settlement; the persistent non-payment of my dues being apparently a manifestation of the indisputable systematic abuse of my rights with absolute impunity for over a long period of time, an indeed never ending night mare; however, the former Minister of Lands and Regional Governments, Mr.Lamin Ndambung Dibba conspired with the CEO of Kuntaur Area Council to maintain the “ culture of silence” over the issues raised, until his departure from the Lands ministry, almost a duration of nine (9) months negligence of duty by a state minister; apparently due to the CEO’s unjustified reluctance to settle my unpaid entitlements; he desperately attempted to refute the legitimacy of the claims, utilising all illegitimate means, however constraint by the inability to defend the indefensible; he indeed presided over the non- payment of my dues for over a decade with absolute impunity and would not hesitate to assert that, he inherited the mal- administrative scenario, and would in most instances blame his predecessors for the abnormality but ironically failed to institute the required corrective measure; I wrote the retirement request at a time, when I was severely ill and permanently quarantined in bed; the CEO visited me at the end of December,2017 and ironically requested me to apply for sick leave, I however maintained that ,I had made a voluntary retirement request almost two (2) months ago and that, in my opinion, it should not have taken all that time ,to effect my retirement and consequently prevailed on him, to make the necessary follow-up actions on the request, since I was sick and couldn’t do it for myself; he accepted but undoubtedly masterminded the Ministry’s inaction and the subsequent termination of my salary without any form of notification, the CEO eventually seized to communicate with me; this created immense suffering for me and my family, my children’s education suffered a decisive blow; I continued to suffer with my family, even medication for my ailment became a night mare; it was not until in September,2018 when I started recovering that, I wrote to the office of the Ombudsman seeking for a redress; to date, I never heard from the said office and all attempts to acquire a response failed to yield the desired results; I was compelled to address a petition to the office of the President and a follow-up petition, when the foot dragging scenario clearly surfaced at the later stage of the investigation processes, undoubtedly master minded by the Secretary General and Head of the civil service Ebriama O Camara, in pursuance of a hidden revenge agent; I highlighted my predicament and the ombudsman’s absolute reluctance to deliver on its mandate to HE; I indeed sent a hard copy to the ombudsman to avail her the opportunity to defend her position in line with best practice standards but she however maintained absolute silence over the indisputable allegation; the Desk officer, Ebriama Sanneh DPS President’s office gave me a call the very day I submitted the petition, he indeed informed me that, his Excellency was very sorry with my situation; however, I maintained that, the decision to retire voluntarily was informed by my immense sufferings in the hands of the Local Government officials in Banjul and that it was absolutely appropriate for me to quit, since all attempts to seek for a redress failed to yield the desired outcome; he however assured me that, it would be a thing of the past.
I was consequently, invited to State House to shed further light on the issues and the investigations started in earnest; however, upon the return of the Secretary General and Head of the civil service Ebriama o Camara from an overseas mission , the investigation landscape suffered a setback, official foot dragging became the order of things, for example, it took incredibly 2 months and 2 weeks for the ministry to respond to the state house request; this I consider unacceptable since issues emanating from the presidency should be given due regard and immediate attention; the delayed feedback was unfortunately rejected in its entirety due to lack of substance, a mere fabrication with intend to crucify me once more; however the Secretary General Ebriama o Camara outrageously insisted that, the ministry should come-up with another version, a delaying tactic; this I found strange and opined that, it was meant to give the ministry the opportunity to come-up with yet another fabricated version that, could be seemingly acceptable; the ministry however failed to comply and was compelled to assign the Local Government Service Commission the task of resolving the matter; the service commission incredibly never communicated with me as the key stake holder but travelled all the way to Kuntaur to engage the other party, so how on earth can the investigation be perceived as impartial and credible; the undoubtedly pre-meditated attitude that, deter the Commission from talking to me served as a major inexcusable procedural error of the investigation process; the service commission erroneously pegged my retirement date effective November 2017,even though I received the December,2017 salary; the question naturally arises, if the service commission failed to realised a vital information like my receipt of December,2017 salary and pegged my retirement date effective November 2017, after utilising public resources to conduct a fact finding mission in Kuntaur; what more can be expected from such a commission? the retirement approval message outrageously conveyed in a letter dated April 2019; this is incomprehensible in this 21st century era; an indeed food for thought for the select committee; amazingly enough the commission made no mention of my financial entitlement claims on the pretext that, the issue was before the Ombudsman; this is also incomprehensible, since the entire matter was presented to the Ombudsman, but they choose to erroneously act on the retirement issue only and distance themselves from the financial entitlement claims and other vital issues raised; certainly the expectation from the commission as perceived senior citizens is to define an acceptable holistic solution and not a piece meal or half-baked answer; 1 year and 9 months state institution failure to live up to expectation; the ministry’s inaction is undoubtedly the desire but inability to refute the legitimacy of the financial claims; the major sticking point that, informed the ministry’s negligence of duty for an incredibly long period of 1 year and 9 months failure to regularised my retirement status; indeed absolutely amazing and a mockery of the rule of law; “doye na waar” “keh manla” in wollof, the ministry’s ill-conceived inaction is certainly a gesture that, is meant to show solidarity with the widely perceived generous CEO ; to buttress the CEO’s desperate attempt to refute the financial claims but to no avail, the Director of Governance admitted receipt of a letter from the ombudsman’s office rejecting the CEO’S feedback on the issues raised, but yet ironically, requested him to come –up with apparently another fabricated version that, could seemingly stand the test of time; this was after my petition to His Excellency, apparently a cover up gesture for the inadequacies; I reacted to the unacceptable decision of the service commission in a petition dated April,2019 addressed to the SG and was later informed by the Desk Officer, DPS Ebriama Sanneh that, the investigation has ended and that, the file was sent to SG for a final decision, this was in mid-April, the SG’s office however choose to maintain absolute silence over the issue to this day.
I later informed the Desk Officer that, I suspect the SG ’S inaction was attributed to my earlier unpleasant encounter with him in 2007 which resulted to his dismissal and subsequent pardon /re-instatement by former president Jammeh ;the SG indeed acted similarly in 2007, he disregarded his relations with my family members and went ahead to grossly violate my rights as a show of position power might, this I perceived grossly unacceptable and was compelled to petition the then Justice minister, he indeed failed to exonerate himself and was consequently fired, at the time he was PS1 at the presidency and desk officer for the petition; he later apologised to me for wrong doing facilitated by my family members, my blood sister Fatou ceesay, her daughter and husband his close associate Siaka Fadera of the NCAC; Ebriama Sanneh, the Desk officer was noticeably devastated by the startling revelations and asserted that, he can never, ever be convinced that, the SG can act in such a manner, which he personally described as grossly unprofessional; I however maintain that, this was the reality and not a mere fabrication; at this point the Desk officer asserted that ,it was not usual for him to make follow-ups on files sent to the SG but this time round ,he would take it upon himself to meet the SG and prevailed on him to act, since I had suffered for long, as he puts it; I later discovered his helplessness but concern over my predicament, he even travelled over to Brikama and generously provided financial support prior to the “Tamharet”feast, for which I shall forever remain grateful, it was certainly a welcome brotherly genuine gesture, the month of Ramadan, the holy feast of tobaski now at the corner, an indeed persistent night mare.
I later repeatedly prevailed on the desk officer that, since the assignment was given to him by his Excellency in the absence of the SG , it would be prudent to inform His Excellency of the SG’s reluctance to act and the reasoning behind his inaction; I argued that, it was a necessary move to avert a further escalations of my confrontation with the state, the duty bearers; I asked if his Excellency would be comfortable with the world wide dissemination of the SG’s unacceptable attitude, he responded in the negative; certainly no civilised nation will be proud of an anti- best practice SG, the state indeed has a duty and is obliged to respect and protect human rights in accordance with both our indigenous laws and international best practice legal instruments; I however maintain that, the continued culture of silence would compel me to act according to the dictates of the prevailing circumstances; I however, later realised that, it was “a no go area” for the desk officer, since he perceived such a move would tantamount to reporting his well respected boss the SG;”amang lafi, kaa la kebaa, la hajo tinyaa” in mandinka; I was compelled to approach a certain media house to tell my story, the CEO made a phone call to the SG and explained my story to him, he indeed created space for me to talk to the SG who enunciated that, the file might have been sent to him a few days ago, I however insisted that, I received credible information that the file was sent to his bureau almost two weeks ago, he then said in mandinka “jimina beh kanyinaleh” literally implying, he might have forgotten, he later assured the media house CEO that, action would be instituted, this was towards the end of May; however the culture of silence persisted; I later approached three other reputable media establishments as societal watch dogs, the fourth arm of Governance, but they also demonstrated gross unwillingness to give me space to tell my horrific story; no wonder I enunciated in my subsequent write-ups that, “media censorship either externally or internally influenced should be perceived as an infringement to our newly acquired press freedom”, and went further to assert that,” media Practitioners should be warned to desist from unleashing terror on distance wrong doers whilst offering blanket amnesty for close associate equally wrong doers”, I indeed genuinely addressed a petition to the Minister of Information as an affected and concerned citizen, enunciating the need to partner with relevant stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive case study on in-house media censorship and its impact on the accountability processes, to inform the formulation of a mechanism that, would serve as a deterrent to the unprofessional media attitude of selective information dissemination or reporting; I was consequently compelled to approached the diaspora media fraternity to tell my story in accordance with article 19 of the human rights declaration which states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinion without interferences and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
I was later approached by a concerned friend , a close guy to the SG who informed me that, he visited the SG on his return from medical treatment in Dakar, Senegal and that the SG would like him to accompany me to his home to discuss the issue, I however declined the invitation based on principles; I however thank him for his genuine concern , the motivating factor for his godly intervention.
I look forward to the timely intervention of your revered select committee as the legislative sub-body with over sight functions for both local Governance and ombudsman matters, by extension the entire national assembly to protect and safeguard the good will image of the mother land; I had indeed communicated both through post mail and online to the President, the on-line version with attention: to the minister of Justice, Chief Justice, special adviser to the president and other relevant senior public officials to no avail; this open letter is certainly meant to close the chapter of my seemingly unanswred demand for Justice from state authorities or duty bearers, I have indeed exhausted all avenues; no wonder, the decision to addressed a hard copy to you as head of the respective legislative National Assembly select committee, the Justice minister, Chief Justice and the Chairman National Human Rights Commission, as a concrete confirmation of receipt of my clarion call to all concerned state authorities for justice to be delivered; I have heard on many instances the Attorney General making pronouncements that, “justice must not only be done but to be seen to be done “, so this is undoubtedly a test case for the Justice ministry; in the event the culture of silence persisted, I will ultimately be compelled to reach out to the opposition party leaderships as Government in waiting institutions to intervene; otherwise my “demand for justice road map” would proceed with the engagement of the in-country diplomatic community and other foreign missions such as the EU, the American, the Turkish, Senegalese, Nigerian and British embassies, the World Bank etc., etc. to request for their intervention and the justification would be the evidence based reluctance of all the four(4) arms of Governance to act in accordance with the dictates of acceptable democratic values and other acceptable best practice standards; the inevitable step would undoubtedly be ,to approach the international organisations genuinely concerned and committed to the protection of human rights as enshrined in article 7 of the human rights declaration “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of the declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination” i.e. the UN,AU, ECOWAS, Amnesty International, Africa Watch, etc., etc., the international media establishments such as the BBC, CNN, RFI and a host of other well-meaning international media establishments will also be contacted to request for air time to narrate my ordeal, so that the whole world will be given the opportunity to objectively gauge the human rights situation under the new dispensation utilising my ordeal with state pronouncements on respect for human rights; deception is no longer feasible, we are in the era of accountability for all and sundry; off course my predicament undoubtedly tantamount to state endorsed rights abuses; what other fitting description can be given to the state culture of disregard over human right violation committed by the Secretary General and Head of the civil service; this is the irrefutable fact, to be accepted by all fair minded persons; “ning sayaa mang ngoma, sanga dantelaa, beh muneh ngomala”in mandinka “ kudeh marseh, yaa tageh sabopa”Aluta continua, no retreat, no surrender; the truth shall ultimately triumphed. “insa alahu”
Kuntaur Area Council
24th July, 2019.
Editors note: The views expressed by the author do not represent the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention.