After recently reading an interview with the deputy leader of APRC, none other than Ousman Jatta (Rambo), as usual, I took it with a pinch of salt lest he comes out and says he was misquoted as politicians are fond of whenever they flop. Yet to date I have not seen or heard a rebuttal from him and I can safely conclude that every word in that interview was his.
Mr. Jatta was quoted “A leader should have voice and candor” and “people are not afraid of Barrow”. I am shocked to hear the deputy leader of the most brutal and corrupt regime in our history endorsing and praising president Adama Barrow’s leadership style in handling and nurturing freedom of speech and nonexecutive interference in our democratic space. I am saying Jatta is endorsing Adama Barrow governance style because if your detractor and a leader of a brutal regime you removed is telling you that you are giving too much liberty and respect to people who put you in office in the first place, it simply means they are disappointed that you are doing the right things. President Barrow, please do not fall for the bet, keep giving the Press and the Gambian people the freedom denied to them by Ousman Rambo Jatta’s idol for 22 years. Mr. Rambo Jatta and other failed politicians in the APRC will only be happy if you start arresting and sending them to the five-star hotel in Mile-2 for crimes they have committed and continue to defend without remorse. Lest we forget, victims of 22-years of APRC brutal regime are still waiting for justice. Mr. President, Rambo may as well be sending you a coded message that he wants to join your bandwagon now that the APRC is finally crumbling under its sins but there should be no place for political prostitutes like Rambo and Seedy Njie in any decent government, if yours was one. We are watching!
OJ VERSUS KERR FATOU
Lest I am mistaken the privileges of democracy come with responsibility. There are three organs of government – The Executive, The Legislature and The Judiciary. These three organs are supposed to be independent of each other and are to act as checks and balances on one another. Even the highest office or the person, who is none other than the President, is not above the law. If he breaks the law, there are means to hold him accountable as he can, for example, be impeached by the parliament/national assembly. The fourth estate in a democracy is the Press that plays an immense role in not only informing and educating the citizenry but also keep the three branches of the government accountable through critical and investigative reporting. In a society where all these four estates play their roles with independence, impartiality and responsibility, democracy will flourish. The democratic values, norms and benefits will be as strong as the weakest link in the roles and functions played by these four estates.
Kerr Fatou made an excellent job by exposing an alleged corruption at the Ministry of Agriculture involving its minister, Omar Jallow/OJ. If the alleged corruption is true as exposed by Kerr Fatou, then they deserve every accolade and should not only be praised but supported by all means in the future so that they can continue to expose more wrong doings and reduce this cancerous disease called corruption and impunity in our dear motherland.
However, democracy and the so-called “New Gambia” demands fairness to everyone including Omar Jallow. If OJ feels and truly believes that he was wrongly accused of corruption, then he should not be subject to mob justice. He should be given every chance to seek justice by having his day in court. He should not be intermediated, neither by the Gambia Press Union nor OJ’s political adversaries from seeking justice in the courts. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression does not mean anybody including the media is above the law. What we should not allow is for anybody or segment of the society to take laws into their own hands, rather a reasonable redress in courts is part and parcel of a democratic dispensation.
Asking or pressurizing OJ not to seek redress in the judicial system is effectively asking him to accept guilt when he believes otherwise. If Kerr Fatou believes their reports to be factual and accurate, then they should have no fear but stand by their story and meet OJ in court. A successful outcome for Kerr Fatou will not only raise their credibility but sends a clear and unambiguous message to OJ, other government officials and ordinary citizens that they are being watched and any wrong doing will be exposed. On the other hand if OJ comes out vindicated through the due process, it gives comfort and confidence to all and sundry that we are all equally protected under the law and that no individual or institution can bully or suppress people into submission. At this point in time if Kerr Fatou knows that their story does not hold water, all they simply need to do is to withdraw it and apologize to Omar Jallow. After all it is human to err but it is also human to accept mistakes and apologize. Anything short of admission by either sides of guilt or error, they should meet in court because not only do both sides deserve justice but Gambian people need to know the truth. The Gambian people are the true and ultimate victims here: we either pay the price for the consequences of corruption or for sensational reporting and misinformation. This will be a true test of the vibrancy of our new democracy, press freedom and judiciary independence and we should all embrace it. Democracy comes with price and as a country we should be ready to pay the price if we are to enjoy the benefits.