By Ebrima Sillah
Hon Landing Jallow Sonko: A Man Of Impeccable Integrity
I am deeply saddened to hear the death of former Minister of Local Government and Lands, Landing Jallow Sonko which sad news took place last night in Senegal where he was rushed following involvement in an accident. Hon Landing Jallow Sonko was hit by a taxi driver while coming from his usual morning Fajir prayers from the Pipeline Mosque.
A deeply devoted Muslim, Hon Landing Jallow Sonko was your everyday humble, down-to-earth politician. He showed devotion and commitment to the Gambia, a country he served in various capacities.
For 30 years Hon Landing Jallow Sonko lived an exemplary life of honesty. During his time as State Minister, Hon Landing Jallow Sonko had never spent his weekend or public holidays in the Kombos. Rather he was always on his farms with the rest of his family to supplement whatever he was getting from his work as Minister.
Even the witch hunt commissions of inquiry set up by the AFPRC [Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council] military junta in the aftermath of the July 22nd 1994 military coup, completely exonerated him of any corruption or wrong doing. In a rare case of precedence where officials of the deposed government were used as punch-balls by the military junta to keep parroting allegations of corruption and other financial improprieties, Hon Landing Jallow Sonko was singled out by the highly bias, highly compromised commissions of inquiry of being one of the most honest ministers.
At both the Lands and Public Properties Commissions, records showed that Hon Landing Jallow Sonko never handled any impress during his time as minister; he owned only one landed property allocated to him by the State and that all other extra landed properties in his name in Numi were in fact inherited family properties. He was able to prove with documentary evidence before the commissions of inquiry that the house he lived in was built through a loan from the then Commercial Bank which was fully paid. In fact, his bank account records produced before the commission showed that the only funds available in it was his last salary paid into the account on the 21st of July 1994.
Being one of the few local journalists who covered all the Commissions of Inquiry in 1994 – 1995, I remember the Chairman of the Public Properties Commission, Sierra Leonean, Justice Mr Omar H Alghali praising him for his exemplary service to the nation, characterised by honesty and dedication. He was also praised by the late Justice Solomon Njie, Chairman of the Lands Commission for living within his means.
Other ministers exonerated by the Alghali Commission and indeed all other Commissions of inquiry even when the junta did all what it could to implicate them include: the late Hon Bubacarr Michael Baldeh (former Minister of Youth and Sports), Hon Alkali James Gaye (former Minister of Tourism), the late Hon Mathew Yahya Baldeh (former Minister of Works and Communications), Hon Omar Sey (former Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Hon Kama AWF Badjie (former Minister of Education), Hon Lamin Kiti Jabang (former Minister of Interior. He was also once Minister of Foreign Minister for over 10 years).
While we mourn this great loss, we shall forever continue to celebrate Hon Landing Jallow Sonko for what he stood for. He was hit by a taxi driver on his way from a jihad (leaving the comfort of his house to perform FADJR prayers at its appropriate time in a congregation.) And this is the same mosque where he sometimes used to lead congregation prayers.
We therefore salute this honourable, dignified elderly statesman for a meritorious service to the motherland. May his final abode be Jannatul Firdaus where he is welcomed by the Prophet Muhammed (PUH). May his family have the fortitude to bear this monumental loss to them, to the Gambia and indeed the entire Muslim Ummah. Ameen.
May I take the opportunity to pay tribute a wonderful man, the late Nuimi son, Landing Jallow Sonko. My condolences to his entire family, to my wider Nuimi brothers, and entire Gambia. He was a dedicated soldier. May Allah grant him Jannah. Ameen.
My sympathies to his family and to the entire Gambian people. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Excellent write-up Ebrima. We expect that the police have investigated the accident as there is little information on this.
Humility is LJ’s trademark. Even when most state ministers relocated to bigger and more modern houses, not to mention their seclusion, LJ refused to “extract” himself (and his family) from the common/average citizens. I know this from first hand because I lived two doors away from him in the same “line-house” in LatriKunda in the late 1970”s/ early 1980’s. His official vehicle was on the road only to take him to and from work; never used to run private or family errands.
LJ was a committed family man, a dedicated statesman and a very pious man. He was a voracious reader too, a habit most people didn’t know about him. His choice of books range from fiction to academic particularly education. He will be surely missed.
May Allah reward him with the highest place in Jan’nah, Ameen.
May honourable L.J. Sonko’s soul rest in perfect peace, very sad indeed. He was well known as humble and friendly Gentle man.
Very sad news..May Allah (swt) forgive him for his humanly failings and reward him handsomely for his good deeds…Rest in peace..
My sincere condolence to his family, friends, relatives and all well wishers. May Allah (swt) grant all the strength to bear your loss..
‘RIP Mr sonko