Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

THE NIGERIANS HAVE DECIDED. WILL GAMBIANS FOLLOW COME 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION?

April 1, 2015
Reads :87

 

THE DICTATOR WHO MUST GO

THE DICTATOR WHO MUST GO

DEFEATED BADLUCK JOHNATHAN

DEFEATED BADLUCK JOHNATHAN

In spite of Nigeria’s turbulent political history plagued by obnoxious corruption, for the first time in its history an incumbent president is democratically voted out of office. Nigerians had come out of a gloomy election with a spectacular result and a people’s leader. To the chagrin of many who predicted Goodluck Johnathan will not concede defeat, he not only phoned to congratulate Buhari but also emphasized, “Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country are more important than anything else”.  His phone call to Buhari has averted the country from descending into a bloody mayhem.

Many keen observers of the presidential election concluded that Goodluck Johnathan lost due to five main factors: the election was harder to rig, insecurity, united opposition, poor economy and a time for change all of which a familiar tales in the Gambia under Dictator Jammeh who had a chip of vengeance on his shoulder from the word go. Senegal did it and now the Nigerians of all people. OJ has already set the pace in his recent Brikama rally in which he challenged Dictator Jammeh to explain to all Gambians how he acquired his huge overnight wealth. Furthermore, he dared the notorious NIA who graced his Brikama rally uninvited to go and tell their lord Dictator Jammeh “I said it. Go tell Yaya Jammeh I said it”. “Courage”, Ambrose Redmoon explained “is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear”.

It is an open secret that 99.9% of Gambians cannot wait to see Yahya Jammeh make it through the exit. As a consequent, come 2016 presidential election, your desire should be declared by your vote. For those who are intimating that Yaya will not concede defeat, they have a lot to learn from Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Goodluck Johnathan of Nigeria. If majority of registered Gambian voters vote against Dictator Jammeh, he will be left with no choice but hand over office to whoever wins.  What is now crucial is for the opposition parties to put their differences aside, come together and contest as a united front against the incumbent dictator. National interest must take precedence over party ideology and empty pride. Once the IEC realises that the opposition is credible and serious, it will be forced to implement the necessary reforms which will stamp out any form of electoral malpractice and vote rigging. Unless that is attained little or nothing will be achieved come 2016 presidential election.

Goodluck Johnathan as compared to Dictator Jammeh had all state apparatus at his disposal as an incumbent candidate but when the people chose to express their wish, their voice prevailed. No amount of security intimidation or bribery could drown their voice.  It is about time we, as Gambians; also understand that power lies in our hands and not on Dictator Jammeh.  20 years of brutal dictatorship is enough. Time for change is now.  We lost the opportunity on 30th December 2014, so let us not let 2016 presidential election slip away from us to effect the change we all yearn for.

 

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK

GAMBIA STUDENTS’ STRIKE TOPPLES UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR

March 28, 2015
Reads :1274
Mad Chancellor of the University of the Gambia - Dr. Prof. Yahya Jammeh

Mad Chancellor of the University of the Gambia – Dr. Prof. Yahya Jammeh

Sacked Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammed Kah of UTG. Next you to be a Dr. Prof to stay long at your post!

Sacked Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammed Kah. 

Popular university students’ strike in the Gambia on Wednesday, 26 March 2015, has forced the country’s President, Yahya Jammeh to remove the country’s first native Vice Chancellor of the only University of the Gambia, Professor Muhammadou M.O. Kah. Professor Kah’s marching orders came through a press release issued by the Office of the President on Thursday, 26th March, barely a day after the students took to the streets demanding change of the University’s new grading system.  

The press release from the President’s Office however feigned the reasons for the Professor’s removal, as a mere replacement, citing his successful completion of a five-year term of office. No further reasons, were given as to why that term was not extended or could not have been extended.

Furthermore, the Professor’s wife, Dr. Jainaba Kah, was also removed, by the same press release, from her position as Director General of the Management Development Institute (MDI). Again, no reasons were forwarded for her removal too, except the same successful completion of term of office.

Both Professor Kah and his wife have however been recycled to board chairs of their two previous institutions of UTG and MDI respectively, with Professor Kah given additional advisory position at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology,

Professor Kah is now succeeded by his former deputy, Dr Omar Jah Jnr. as the new Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia, whilst Mr Alieu K. Jarju takes over at the Management Development Institute as DG.

The Professor’s relieve from office came shortly after the popular student manifestation in the streets, which had not been seen in the country for over a decade, demanding change in the University’s grading system, which was introduced by Professor Kah and also became its main ardent supporter.

Hundreds of the discontented UTG students took to the streets  denouncing the introduction and raft of other discontented issues; such as the 10 percent increment of their tuition fees.

The students mainly comprising of the second, third, and fourth year undergraduates, set out for a march from the law faculty in Kanifing to the Ministry of Higher Education in Kotu to express their grievances. They chanted ‘WE NEED OUR GRADES BACK’, a manifestation that has not been seen in the repressive West African nation, since the brutal crackdown of similar student demonstrations of April 10 & 11, 2000.

The students were however intercepted at the  Kairaba Avenue by the Minister for Higher Education, Dr Abubacarr Senghore, who pleaded with them to return to their campus for a dialogue. Shortly after their return to their campus, three other cabinet Ministers joined the fray, including the Ministers for: Basic Education, Energy, and Interior – to dissuade the student from continuing with their intended protest.

The atmosphere of the dialogue meeting was described by Standard Newspaper as highly charged characterised with jeering, boos and heckles from the students.

The new grading system raised the score for distinction from 80 percent to 90 percent. This had attracted the students discontent, as they deemed it unfair. They said they tried all avenues of complaints, but their complaints fell to the deaf ears of the university’s administrators, forcing them to take to the streets to manifest their frustrations  against Yahya Jammeh’s World Number One University.

“The students support standards, we support the new grading system, but the problem of the students is the way the new grading system is applied,” Mr Bakary Fatty, a student leader, told The Standard Newspaper at the scene of the protest. He argued that applying the new grading system across the board will be tantamount to a breach on the part of the UTG. He said it should instead apply to new students while allowing the current students to continue with the old grading system. “Some students collected their transcripts only to discover that there are two grading systems on one transcript,” Fatty said. “That means they will spend four years at the university working hard to earn a degree and spend their entire life defending that degree because there are inconsistencies in the grading systems.”

The student leader advanced that after initial complaints, the senate had met and agreed to revert to the old grading system, but Vice Chancellor Kah returned from a trip and reversed the senate’s decision. “So, some students are saying that he was trying to use the senate as a rubber stamp,” the law student added.

At the dialogue meeting of Wednesday, Vice Chancellor Kah continued his defence of the new grading system by explaining the mechanics of it. He clarified that it is neither retroactive nor punitive and emphasised that the new grading system is in line with international standards and students should rather work harder to better prepare themselves for life after university. “I am tasked with the responsibility of building a world class university and this measure is about the integrity and quality of the university and those are non-negotiable,” he reiterated to the students.

With regards to the 10 percent annual increment of the University tuition fees, Professor Kah defended that policy too noting that the university has in fact been too lenient to the students regarding their tuition fee payments, as defaulting in payment is commonplace. “Contrary to the misunderstanding, this university does not in fact increase tuition,” he said, noting that the increment is in line with the hikes in the prices of products and services.

However, the students disputed that justification as bogus. One of the students, who spoke to the Standard newspaper Gambia, explained that they “said it is because of the inflation, but you do not need to be a student of economics to know that inflation in this country is averaged at 6 per cent. So, why the 10 per cent increment?” 

ABDOULAYE WADE CRIES FOUL OVER SON’S SENTENCE!

March 25, 2015
Reads :1137
Father's joy now becomes his agony. Former President Wade decorating his son Karim Wade in 2011

Father’s joy now becomes his agony! Former President Wade decorating his son Karim Wade in 2011

Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade cries foul over the sentencing of his son, Karim Wade, who was on Monday, 23 March 2015, sentenced to six years imprisonment and fined $230m (£150m), for what the Judge of a specially constituted Tribunal to try his case described as his illegal enrichment, during the 12 years reign of his father, Abdoulaye Wade. 

Judge Henri Gregoire Diop said Wade had hidden away funds in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama. “The facts before us constitute illicit enrichment by Karim Wade,” the judge was quoted as saying.

One of the government lawyers in the case, Mr Simon Ndiaye described the sentence as “historic decision not only for Senegal but also for the whole of Africa and all those who defend responsibility, citizenship and good governance.”

However, Karim Wade’s lawyer, Mohamed Seydou Diagne said he would appeal the verdict, contending that the anti-corruption court did not have jurisdiction over the case and it was politically motivated.

Meanwhile, in Senegal itself, the sentence continues to polarize opinions. Many are questioning the insufficiency of the evidence relied upon by the Judge to sentence Mr Wade Junior. Whilst others, including former President Wade himself, are questioning the motive behind the trial, describing it as a political witch-hunt of President Macky Sall against his old time friend, now political foe, Karim Wade. Others feared that the sentence of Karim could set a bad precedent for Senegal, which could usher in the witch hunt of succeeding governments against their preceding governments.

On 4 February 2015, former president Wade told thousands of his opposition supporters that he was prepared to “give his life” to prevent the conviction of his son on corruption charges. This had provoked President Sall to issue a warning last week that his government would not tolerate any attempt to destabilise the West African country following the court ruling.

Karim Wade, who was once dubbed as the Minister for Heaven and Earth, due to his many ministerial portfolios, during his father’s reign, was nominated on 21 March 2015 to become the Presidential candidate for his father’s party, the Party of Socialist Democrats of Senegal (PDS). He is now likely to be disqualified to run for the next Senegalese Presidential elections expected to take place in 2017.

It could be recalled that Karim Wade was first arrested and questioned by the Senegalese Police on 3 July 2012 on suspicion of corruption. This was 4 months after the election of President Macky Sall, as President of Senegal, on 25 March 2012.

On 17 April 2013 Karim was remanded in custody on corruption charges, after he was accused of accumulating a fortune valued at $1.3 billion. He made his first appearance before the Special Tribunal on 31 July 2013, where he presents himself as a “political prisoner”.

However, on 11 November 2014, the prosecutor to the Special Tribunal, Alioune Ndao was fired and replaced by Cheikh Tidiana Mara.

On March 21, Karim was chosen to be the Democratic Party of Senegal’s candidate of the next presidential election. However, that hope dashed on 23 March 2015, when he was sentenced six years imprisonment for corruption.

BANKA MANNEH FREED ON BAIL

March 22, 2015
Reads :595

By Yero Jallow

Banka Manneh - Leader of the Gambian Diaspora Civil Society Groupings

Banka Manneh – Leader of the Gambian Diaspora Civil Society Groupings RELEASED TO GO HOME!!

In a dramatic twist on Thursday March 19th 2015, Minnesota Federal Magistrate, Becky R. Thorson of St. Paul, granted Banka Manneh conditional bail. Mr. Manneh, a household name in both the U.S and the Gambia, has been on the FBI investigation list since after the December 30th alleged coup in the tiny West African impoverished country, the Gambia. The event followed loss of lives and trial of alleged conspirators both in the U.S and the Gambia. Those charged in the U.S are charged for violating the U.S Neutrality Act, a law that forbids launching from the U.S to forcefully dislodge a foreign Government thoughtfully “friendly” to the U.S.

Perhaps to what charges, are similar to what charges were laid on the trio –Texas businessman Cherno Njie, Minnesota Air Force U.S veteran Papa Faal, and the Tennessee U.S Military veteran Alhagie Saidy Barrow. After months of investigation, the FBI finally raided Banka’s home late last week, and summoned him to appear in court, to answer to pending charges against him. In layman language, Banka is charged with “aiding and abetting” in the December 30th alleged coup. But Banka is an activist, a sincere Gambian comrade whose simplicity and companionship is celebrated in all corners. Banka is a loaded with a spirit to help oppressed Gambians and lift the nation from dictatorship to democracy.

From her highness chambers, Magistrate Thorson found Banka legible for both self-bail and public defendant (lawyer), after reviewing his alleged involvement and financial income earning respectively. The Federal Prosecution pressed on having Banka restricted on internet and computer access. At that point, a defiant Banka Manneh took the stage to put it to both the magistrate judge and the prosecution that he needs the computer in doing his job. The magistrate considered Banka’s request to use the computer for work and conditionally Okayed Banka to be allowed to use computer for work activities.

Banka’s next hearing is slated for Thursday March 26th 2015, in which case he is expected to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is expected that Banka will plead not guilty on the charges against him. Within the time, Banka has been advised to surrender his passport, to not do any international travels, and appear in court as and when needed.

What many activists are furious about is where the FBI are heading with their investigations. What do they really want? What are they looking for? What interest do they have in this case that it is giving them sleepless nights? People understand about the U.S neutrality law, but agreeably, any investigations, and bringing of alleged conspirators to court needs to be done respectively according to the stipulated law. In the case of Banka, the U.S Government and the FBI has been greatly criticized in many Gambian quarters in the manner and nature they raided his home. Banka is a family man and raiding his home with two dozen FBI agents at around 5am, may not necessarily be against the law, but poses serious questions over its motive. An organization like the FBI is expected to maintain its respect and relationship to have cooperation from communities. The U.S and FBI are well equipped with all resources, therefore a case like this, needs to be investigated from the root cause and the very element provoking citizens to try act in the way allegedly acted on December 30th 2014. The U.S and FBE do not want to go down in history as having to sympathize, aid, and abet a tyrannical regime as destructive as that of Gambia’s current dictatorship, under the worst of world rulers, Yaya Jammeh. Yes, the FBI has a job to do and no one is saying they don’t, but Gambians too have a job to do, to liberate themselves and their citizens from the clutches of tyranny. The Obama administration must not be taught history, when our pioneer fathers liberated the United States from its colonial master, Great Britain, under treasonable conditions. A law must be reflective of time and current events. A law must represent the interest of those it is written for. A law is unfavorable if it victimizes citizens rather than uplifting them. It is really a shame for a nation as powerful as America to position itself in such a funny situation.

Regardless of the daunting frustration having to deal with the nagging trials, it was clearly a victory today for believers of justice. It was important to see Banka go home to his family and to be able to continue work. The judge didn’t make any mistake as it is the right thing to do.

To those that believe in freedom, equality, and justice, everything that happens is an inspiration. The Minnesota Civil Society group extends its appreciation for the sincere solidarity from Gambians the world over and their friends.

Gambians Outraged over Disappearance of Young Gender Activist

March 21, 2015
Reads :1225
Missing Young Gender Activist, Minah Manneh

Missing Young Gender Activist, Minah Manneh

Gambians at home and abroad have taken to social media to vent out their anger over the arrest of gender activist Aminata Manneh. Minah is a 3rd year UTG student and an intern at the American corner, Banjul. She is said to have been abducted by the notorious Gambian spy agency NIA. Reasons for her disappearance have to do with a video she shared on social media of a police officer brutalizing a school girl. It is reported that Minah was on her way to work when she saw a police officer beating a school girl with a long chain. She decided to film the disturbing episode which she shared on social media questioning the duty of the country’s security apparatus. The video became viral within a short time.

The brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh instead of carrying out an investigation and disciplining the officer responsible decided to threaten/abduct the young activist. This is what has outraged Gambians. They have expressed disgust over the action of the security authorities with some calling it a slap in the face of all Gambian youth and vehemently call for her immediate release. “What crime has she committed other than to have helped the police to better themselves by addressing the excesses of this officer beating a child on the street?” charged Madi Jobarteh . “Have the police not created a Complaints Unit? And a Human Rights Unit? And a Child Welfare Unit? And a Community Policing unit? Is Minah’s video not enough and an urgent matter for these units to get very busy to ensure that professionalism and civility characterize all the men and women of the force?” Mr. Jobarteh further queried.

Mr. Sam Phatty based in United States also charged that “Minah is one of our most vibrant members and her passion for promoting the respect of the rights of women and girls shines forth in everything she does. We, therefore, call on the authorities to help us in finding Minah and reuniting her with family, friends and the many people she strives to help each day.”

Pata PJ in Nebraska bluntly put it that “If the Government of the Gambia are so incompetent and insecure to resort to abducting kids and women, time is ripe that it be terminated. ‪Minah’s safety and rights as a person and Gambian must be defended, guaranteed by the State.”

“when will all these aggressions and oppressions against the young people of the Gambia end? When our children are arrested & locked up for exposing the TRUTH, what else can we teach them if not the TRUTH?” lamented Kabiru Musa Darboe based in the U.K. According to some sources Minah may have been scared and went into hiding after receiving series of threats from the vicious spy agency as exiled Gambian Journalist in the U.S Fatou Jaw Manneh indicated in a post on social media “I believe Aminata was scared/threatened and went into hiding. Hope that is true and not being abducted as we fear…If you know of any family member who we can talk to please advise us ASAP. We are here to help. Gambia is in a crisis so we cannot take chances. Let’s be each other’s keeper. May God help us all.”

Episodes of detention without trial are an unending trend in the Gambia. Not long ago a youth activist who use to work at UTG Sait matty Jaw was also abducted and kept in incommunicado for many weeks without trial. He was released but only to be slapped with flimsy charges, charges without merit whatsoever.

Yahya Jammeh who has taken power through the barrel of the gun in 1994 have been ruling the tiny West African country with an iron fist, Roughly 2 weeks ago a young woman was killed by a purported stray bullet while authorities were trying to apprehend the driver of a cab she was in who refused to stop at a check point. The security personnel who fired the shots have since been exonerated and driver finned five thousand dalasis.

Some political commentators have stated that Gambia is at a cross roads and if effective measures are not put in place the country is likely to descend into severe civil strife that may result to ‘collective suicide’ as others put it. As at now the hastags #FreeAminataManneh #FreeMinah has gone viral but as long as the authorities remain tight lipped and no word comes from the missing young gender activist people have all right to put fingers at those entrusted with the affairs of the tiny West African state.

BANKA MANNEH SURRENDERS TO FBI BUT MAINTAINS INNOCENCE

March 19, 2015
Reads :1873
Banka Manneh - Leader of the Gambian Diaspora Civil Society Groupings

Banka Manneh – Leader of the Gambian Diaspora Civil Society Groupings

The leader of the Gambian Diaspora Civil Society groupings, Mr Banka Manneh, had on Wednesday, 18 March 2014, surrendered to the US authorities investigating the 30 December 2014 alleged coup attempt against Dictator Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia. Mr Manneh, who is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, travelled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to give into the US FBI authorities investigating his role in the abortive coup.

In a conversation with Kibaaro News, before his planned trip to Minneapolis, Manneh explained that his surrender should not, in any shape or form, be taking to mean he is pleading guilty to the charges, which are being scavenged to be levelled against him. But purely to avert any possibility of his arrest by the same authorities. He maintained that he has done nothing wrong and that’s one of the reasons, why he wanted to face the investigating authorities, in order to assist them with their inquiries.

Manneh maintained his opinion on Yahya Jammeh, who he described as simply a tyrant, who is oppressing his people in the Gambia. He however refused to comment on the 30 December aborted coup, due to its legal implications to his ongoing legal matters with the US authorities.

Manneh’s surrender and possible arrest has nevertheless attracted much condemnation and outcry from Gambians on the Social media, as many described him a hero to his people of the tiny West African nation of 1.8 million people. In his last message to his Facebook page, Manneh consoled his many admirers to: Keep the faith always, and NEVER give up!” Borrowing the slogan from President Barack Obama, he assured them that: “YES we can!”

Since his surrender to the US authorities on 18 March, Manneh is yet to be charged by the US authorities neither was he brought to any court of law. It is further yet to be confirmed whether he will be charged or not.

It could be recalled that 3 other Gambians, namely: Mr Papa Faal, Mr Cherno Njie, and Mr Alagie Barrow, are currently charged with offences under the Neutrality Act, by the US authorities, in connection with the 30 December aborted coup. All the defendants have been released on bail and awaiting trial for breach of the Neutrality Act.

The Neutrality Act states that: “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

The problem with this act is simply its interpretation and application. The US has, for many years, covertly supported overthrows of leaders around the world, whether friend or foe, paying oblivion to the Neutrality Act. It seems, therefore, that the Neutrality Act only applies when the US citizens failed in their endeavour to effect regime change in the supposedly friendly nation to the US. If, however, they succeed in that endeavour, then the Neutrality Act becomes neutral and pays oblivion to their actions.

In simple terms, had the 30 December freedom fighters succeeded, in their endeavour of liberating the Gambia from the claws of Yahya Jammeh’s bondage, the Neutrality Act would have remained dormant in the confines of the US constitutional library cupboards.

DISCLAIMER…DISCLAIMER…DISCLAIMER

March 14, 2015
Reads :1000
VERONIC CARAYOL-A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE

VERONIC CARAYOL-A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE

It has been brought to my knowledge as Editor-In-Chief of Kibaaro News that a story captioned: “DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ENFORCEMENT AT CUSTOMS EXPOSED” written by ‘A CONCERNED GAMBIAN’ and published on the 1st September 2014 was a calculated malice aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Veronic Carayol. Kibaaro’s management hereby strongly condemned such a callous act by the ‘CONCERNED GAMBIAN’ and profoundly apologise to Veronic Carayol for any pains and inconveniences the publication has caused her.

I also wish to add, the opinions expressed in the publication were entirely that of the ‘CONCERNED GAMBIAN’. It is pertinent to bear in mind that tarnishing the dependable image, integrity and hard work of fellow colleagues in the name of reaching one’s selfish and undesirable goals is not only callous but inhuman and ungodly.