Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – Nko (I say), let me clarify: Jammeh should not be our benchmark. The laws he gave, especially those for his own self preservation, should not be standards we should aspire to either keep or measure our new progress against. They are historically anachronistic and were bad in intent and purpose…. So we should campaign for the repealing of these bad laws, including the “insult laws” against the person of the President or any high and mighty. We voted for progress, for forward thinking, to be the best, to be enviable, to regain our list glory as the beckon of democracy. We cannot relapse to the Jammeh period.

Let me clarify. It is morally wrong to insult another person however much one disagreed with him or her. It is infra dig. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Just as much as it is wrong to hate another person. But it should not be criminal to insult another person… Not the person’s mum or someone connected to him or her. We cannot afford to legislate every moral issue or individual behaviour. We cannot be legally compelled to love the President or anyone else although loving him or that person will be the good thing to do. Love thy enemy but do we? What we must do is to protect his person and dignity against slander or libel and if he feels aggrieved he can seek redress from the courts as a private citizen. But we must be very cautious even if that.

Democracy comes with the good and the not so good. The “not so good” are not the making of democracy or freedom or rights but rather individual failings, the habit of man to overdo things or act irresponsibly. Eating is good but overeating is bad but we cannot blame the food if we over eat (unless if you are a Ceesay or Jaiteh or Today or the so-called Nyancho). And the not-so-good cannot be sliced away from the body of democracy. Then you will mutilate democracy itself; both the form and content will be severely affected. We should fight ignorance which could be the cause of the irresponsible act.

To be a President comes with high stakes, a giving up of certain privilege or liberty. It entails a certain giving up of the personal space or liberty. And we should give much more to the President for giving up more. In proportionate measures…. it is a very high price to pay for being a public post holder… We can ridicule, criticise, lie against, support, clap for, praise… We expect the President to take every thing in his stride, to ignore most, to consider few.

Nko, if the words a citizen says can threaten the foundation of the State or a community, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the foundation of that State….. We need to examine that State….

Nko, we should tell the police to not press charges in every case. Some issues are better resolved with a severe reprimand or an apology or a community censure. We cannot be dragging every case to court; we end up inundating the courts with the minors…. We cannot go back to the Jammeh era where some law enforcers, in their quest to please the President or get political favour, would arrest, charge and arraign people for merely saying “if you like, paste the picture on the sky” or “Senegal will invade the Gambia”….

There would lurk in the background a greater evil if we do not demand that these insult laws and all are expunged from our statute books. Next stop would be the media. We would complain they are taking too far the free speech, free press thingy. Then we will clamour for their censor and shutting down and imprisonment…. Because they are pushing the boundary too far….

Yes we should respect” our elders. But “respect” does not mean we have have to acquiesce or comply with or obey or agree with everything they say. Angry outburst or making insulting remarks could be one form of showing disagreement. It may not be the best way but may be the only available means known to the person…

And if you are not convinced by all these things, we can plead with the court to discharge this Case against this Ms Badjie on the basis that, as reported, she is a single mother with a lot of children. It is not in the best interest of those children to lock away their only source of protection. And our social protection system is too young to support such children…. The quality of mercy is not strained…..