Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou should consider resigning from his post. He has failed the victims of dictator Yahya Jammeh’s rule. He has also failed to defend and protect justice—given his recent announcement to free Jammeh’s agents, who had admitted to killing perceived political opponents, journalists and their colleagues in the army.
First, it was wrong for the Justice Ministry to detain the suspected killers for two and half years, without charging them. The constitution clearly states that all accused persons should be availed bail within seventy-two hours of their arrest. But this never happened. The jungullars were held in various military barracks without any charges filed against them.
Fact number two: The Minister said based on the “truthful testimonies” made by Lieutenant Malick Jatta, Staff Sergeant Omar A. Jallow and Staff Sergeant Amadou Badjie, it is imperative for the state to release them pending the outcome of the TRRC proceedings. The other jungullars (Jammeh killers) who the TRRC or the state had perceived as non-cooperative perpetrators to confess their accused crimes will not enjoy similar release accorded to the trio.
Minister Tambadou also said it was unfair to keep the accused soldiers for over two years without trial. Though, he has recommended for the release of Jatta, Jallow and Badjie, without releasing the others. A clear case of judicial discrimination.
Keep in mind that the TRRC is not a court of law. Justice Minister Tambadou too doesn’t possess judicial powers like the courts.
The new Gambia has been built on a weak foundation. The government is not committed to enforcing the law as required.
When the change of government happened back in December of 2016, the likes of Alhagie Kanyi, were interviewed by the police over the murder of the former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay and the execution of the 1994 November 11 alleged coupists . Kanyi is a Superintendent at the Immigration Department. He heads the Immigration post in Soma.
Kanyi was never arrested when he admitted to the police for having participated in the murder of Koro Ceesay and the alleged coupists. He is an uncle to Masanneh Kinteh, the current Chief of Defense Staff of The Gambia armed forces. He recently testified before the TRRC and made similar confessions about his past crimes. He was never charged.
The former Junta Vice Chairman Sanna Bairo Sabally also confessed to killing the November 11 coupists. He also confessed to torture among other brutal crimes. Sabally too was never charged.
The current Commander of the Yundum Army barracks Lamin Fatty, recently admitted before the TRRC of having taken part in the arrest of the November 11 coupists. His role in the murder of the army officers was documented by the Commission. Fatty was never arrested and charged.
His colleague Brigadier Alhagie Martin, who was linked to torture of army detainees, has been placed on an administrative leave by the army. Captain Bah of the Fajara barracks, who admitted to breaking the eye of politician OJ Jallow, has not been arrested and charged. Bah still works at the army.
The bottom line is that Tambadou is not doing his job as expected. He cannot run a transitional Justice Ministry without enforcing the law with fairness. He stands to be accused of cherry-picking on cases.
Overtime, we have observed that Tambadou, has been running the Justice Ministry, as an institution to patronize his friends and loved ones. We will tell you what happened.
When the former Interior Minister Mai Fatty ordered for the arrest of the NIA nine for the murder of Solo Sandeng, without following the basic tenets of police prosecution and rules, Tambadou felt that the case was likely going to suffer a setback in court. He decided to appoint a private counsel to prosecute the case of the NIA nine. The prosecution team headed by the veteran lawyer Antouman Gaye.
Tambadou’s own biological senior brother Sheriff Tambadou was part of the private prosecution team. Sheriff had to resign from the team, amid a private conversation tape between him and the wife of the accused former spy chief Yankuba Badjie. Ndura Jawara met Sheriff to discuss the pending criminal case in the court.
When the state decided to investigate the murder of the three Faraba Banta environmentalists, Tambadou’s longtime friend and colleague Emmanuel Joof, was appointed to head that Commission. A former NIA torturer Omar Cham worked under Joof in that Commission.
After delivering his report to the President Adama Barrow, Tambadou’s friend Joof, was appointed to head the newly formed Human Rights Commission for The Gambia.
When the state decided to form the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, Tambadou’s former colleagues at the UN Court in Tanzania, Essa Faal, and Horja Balla Gaye were brought in to run the Commission’s legal team.
His former colleague at the UN Lamin Cise, was brought in to head the Commission. His former teacher Baba Galleh Jallow, was hired as the TRRC’s Executive Secretary.
A former US National Guard Captain felon Alagie Saidy Barrow, had been hired to lead the Commission’s Research and Investigation Team. Barrow was convicted for taking part in a coup to overthrow dictator Jammeh’s regime.
When the new regime formed a financial commission against dictator Jammeh and the line institutions in Jammeh’s former government, Baa brought in his legal mentor Amie Bensouda to serve as lead counsel at the Janneh Commission. He also brought in Suharata Janneh, the Chairman of the said Commission. Both Janneh and Bensouda were cited for alleged tax evasion by the former Jammeh regime.
Baa’s friend Bai Omar Saine, a banker, and also the son of Gambia’s former intelligence chief Lamin Saine, was also hired to serve in the Janneh Commission. Saine’s Dad retired Captain Lamin Saine, was the state witness in a civil suit case that was filed by the family of the late Deyda Hydara at the ECOWAS court against Jammeh’s government over Hydara’s murder. Saine had ran Jammeh’s torture chambers at the NIA for many years.
Administering justice in The Gambia, would be impossible, if folks cannot detach their family ties, friendship, and emotions from the work that they have been hired to do. Justice has become dysfunctional in the new Gambia, which is a recipe for instability.
A country with less than three million people, one can hardly hear state prosecutors investigating and prosecuting major corruption and white collar crime cases. This is largely due to the so called “masla” among Gambians.
Finally, Tambadou should be mindful in the way he handles cases of human rights victims. It is wrong for the TRRC to accord benefits to perpetrators, when the Commission hasn’t finished its work yet. We rest our case.