Alagi Yorro Jallow

Fatoumatta: Pope Francis reminded us that corruption is like a cancer, it spreads and corrupts the whole body, bringing decay and death. In reference “Don’t Bribe the Police”, the effort of the Inspector General of Police to address the issue of police corruption by introducing the baseline campaign of anti-corruption police policy must be applauded by all Gambians.

 To do so, the public is encouraged the necessity to openly discuss this issue, and more importantly to have a perspective on the measures and activities that the public institutions are taking to prevent and suppress corruption.

Fatoumatta: Police corruption is the most harmful type of corruption, whether it is a ground point corruption comes from within the police or a stepping stone involved in the chain of political, judicial or other type of corruption.

Corruption in the Ministry of Interior and the Police organization represents each action or negligence committed by an official while performing on duty, for which he or she demands or receives certain benefit for himself or other persons, as well as any other kind of violation of standard procedures, abuse of official power or misconduct while using authority.

Fatoumatta, a pathetic indicator of how low the country has sunk. The silence of President Barrow on this critical national matter is also extremely disturbing and I commend the Inspector-General of Police with that bill board educating Gambians not to bribe police officers.

Fatoumatta: Fighting corruption must begin at State House but that should not excuse each of us from playing our part in curbing the vice.

The IGP once introducing a campaign on corruption emblazoned on a giant billboard on the streets of Greater Banjul constructs some mechanisms for implementation of a national anti-corruption policy in the Gambia. This is a primary need to acknowledge the very presence of corruption in the police force.

 It a simple and profound message to his fellow citizens: “Don’t Bribe the Police”.

For decades Gambians have been waiting for politicians, the Judiciary, police and the various anti-corruption bodies to slay the demon of corruption.

Each of them has failed and only added to the cynicism and despair about finding a solution.

A decade ago I used the public facilities at the Banjul International Airport, as I waited for a delayed international flight.

The toilets were exceptionally clean, but as I washed my hands the attendant approached and suggested that I must give him few Dalasis to buy dinner.

He took me for a generous foreigner in what appeared a well-rehearsed and profitable begging routine.

I was enraged by the young man’s brazenness and my outburst had him at first sweating and later weeping as he pleaded me with not to report him or publish the story in my newspaper.

Fatoumatta: I had a similar experience with the Gambian police the previous day, when they were disappointed to discover that my driver, Ansu Jammeh had both a First Aid kit and fire extinguisher in our official Independent newspaper Suzuki Jeep.

Fatoumatta: Corruption has become so routine and every day in public office that you remember the courteous or honest person because they are the exception.

Pa Lamin Njie, a taxi driver narrated to me an extensive list of police charges for unrecognizable offences, which he duly pays without complaint.

He expressed utter disbelief when I told him that I had never paid a bribe in 27-something years.

My advice for Gambians is also quite blunt: the day you pay a bribe in the Gambia you should leave the country as you are only adding to the rot.

There is something grotesque about being asked for a bribe. You feel violated and objectified.

Truth be told we have the solution within each one of us. Our own integrity, values and courage are the weapons for the struggle.

Gambians should not underestimate our ability to confront powers, systems and cartels.

We are the ones we have been waiting for. If we fail to take our responsibility seriously just remember that we are in turn corrupting our own children, the flesh of our own flesh.

Take a step today where you live confront the untouchables, the policeman, the hospital official or everyone else who wants you to believe that service is a privilege not a right.

Congratulation IGP!!!