Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews) – It was William Shakespeare who said centuries ago that the evil that men (and women) do lives after them, but I would add that in fact the evil lives with them as well. Hence the evil done by Yaya Jammeh and his APRC National Assembly Members (NAMs) and Cabinet Ministers shall live and follow them up to their graves. But they can mitigate the shame and pain if they are bold and honest enough to start apologizing to Gambians.

In the course of his 22-year tyranny, one cannot exhaustively list all of the evil deeds of APRC NAMs and Cabinet Ministers. At every step of the way, one can see how these people used the law and their offices to abuse power by seizing the rights and sovereignty of Gambians only to hand it over to one man to plunder for his own selfish interests. They did this by systematically amending our constitution and laws for the purpose of taking away the rights of Gambians hence enslaving their fellow citizens to a single individual. Through the use of laws and institutions, these people therefore enabled Yaya Jammeh to loot, rape, torture and kill unabated.

For example, in July 2015, the Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs Lamin Nyabally went to the parliament to lay before them amendments to the Elections Act. Nyabally said the changes were necessary to make political parties become highly organized and run by serious people, which he said was a concern for the IEC. If Nyabally were honest and patriotic, he would have known that the most unserious person in the Gambia is Yaya Jammeh yet he leads a party. But he went ahead to impose exorbitant fees for elections knowing that of course Yaya Jammeh will steal our public money to pay for himself and APRC candidates. Once again we see how a Gambian son like Lamin Nyabally kill the rights and sovereignty of his fellow citizens in favour of a despot.

We can also recall the amendment of the Information and Communications Act in 2013, which imposed 15 years jail time with a fine of D3 million just for criticizing the government. The person who tabled this bill before the parliament was none other than Information Minister, Nana Grey-Johnson, whose only reason was that “some Gambians had tried to set the people and security officials against the government.”

In introducing the bill, the good old Nana who is a journalist and considered to be a radical, betrayed God and Country by justifying this draconian amendment on the basis that there were citizens who incite and engage in “unpatriotic behaviour” by spreading false news and criticizing government officials. How could Nana say these things when he knew that every Gambian had a moral obligation and national duty to fight against a corrupt, decadent and brutal tyranny? Yet Nana decided to protect the tyranny against his own people! Again the APRC NAMs wasted no time in approving the amendments claiming it was non-controversial and good for the country.

Again in 2013, we saw the former Minister of Justice Lamin Jobarteh, without shame or fear proposed the amendments to the criminal code. In particular he proposed to change Section 114 so that the definition of a public officer can include the president, vice president and NAMs. He proposed that change simply because they want to jail more innocent people for sending petitions to the president.

This whole idea came about during the 2011 trial of University of The Gambia (UTG) Dr. Gumbo Touray who had written a petition to the president to highlight the corruption under the leadership of Prof. Muhammadou Kah, the Vice Chancellor of UTG at the time. Instead of responding to the pertinent issues this good professor raised, Gumbo was instead arrested and charged for giving false information to a public officer. But because his lawyers questioned that in the constitution and the criminal code, a public officer does not include the president, Cabinet ministers and NAMs, therefore Lamin Jobarteh later proposed those changes just to capture future petitioners when they write complaints to the office of the president. Consequently, the amendment imposed more severe punishment.

Ex-president Yahya Jammeh

When Minister Jobarteh tabled this criminally intentioned bill, it was the NAM from Tumana Netty Baldeh who first seconded it, to be followed by Bintanding Jarju, the NAM from Foni Brefet. They defended this illegitimate amendment on the dishonest notion that it promotes peace in the country.

Yet these APRC NAMs knew that the right to petition the Executive is an entrenched constitutional right of citizens because this is how you ensure transparency and accountability in society. Hence the right to petition is a key ingredient of democracy and good governance. If I know that when I complain about poor NAWEC services I will be charged for giving false information, then it means I will not complain. But if no one complains how then can we ensure that NAWEC becomes efficient and effective in giving us water and electricity?

Despite knowing this, APRC NAMs still decided to amend the criminal code thereby criminalizing petition thus further empowering Yaya Jammeh to become a true despot. With this amendment, it meant the president and the government are now above the law, while at the same time allowing corruption and abuse to be the order of the day. By this amendment it means APRC NAMs have therefore disempowered Gambians by taking away from us our ability to question our government and hold our leaders to account. How could any lawmaker pass such a law?

To understand the meaning of these amendments, one needs to look at the kind of actions Yaya Jammeh was taking therefore. For example, in 2013 Yaya Jammeh added the portfolio of Minister of Presidential Affairs to the office of the Secretary General when he appointed Momodou Sabally in that post. Yaya said he relied on Sections 71(1) and 71(3) of the constitution to make that appointment. But he deliberately ignored the fact that Section 168(2) of that same constitution stated clearly that the Secretary General cannot hold another post of emolument on top of the SG post. To further insult the dignity and sovereignty of Gambians, Yaya Jammeh when ahead to make Sabally also the Secretary General of the APRC, who without conscience also gladly accepted that unconstitutional title!

Therefore first, Yaya Jammeh abused the constitution and his powers by making the head of the civil service a minister. To add insult to injury, he then went ahead to make that Secretary General and a Minister become also a politician as the APRC Secretary General when Section 223 of the Constitution separates public servants from open partisan politics.

Here again we see how the National Assembly failing blatantly to stand up to defend our constitution and sovereignty. As usual they failed to rescue the country from the clutches of a maniacal, kleptocratic, schizophrenic, murderous, ungodly and unpatriotic tyrant like Yaya Jammeh. Instead these people created or changed every law intended to make Yaya Jammeh a defacto Absolute Monarch over Gambians. Yet, there are still some Gambians who stand with Yaya Jammeh and APRC, and they claim to have dignity and conscience! Sometimes even goats are better than some humans!

God Bless The Gambia.

By Madi Jobarteh