Janneh Commission chairman handing over the report to President Adama Barrow, March 29th 2019

Is President Barrow Morally Conflicted To Fight Corruption?

The “Friday afternoon” press briefing releasing of the 93-page summary of the  final report of the Janneh Commission of Inquiry  by the Attorney General and Justice Minister’s press statement on massive embezzlement, a monumental scandal concerning the Commission of Inquiry probing into the financial dealing of former President Yahya Jammeh, his top aides and business associates for alleged economic and financial atrocities which plundered the Gambian assets and exploit government institutions, to enrich themselves during his twenty-two years of kleptocratic rule, that just came to light within the last few months or so.

The selectivity of cases being fast-tracked, and publicly so, by the Attorney-General’s office is so obvious given the absolute darkness surrounding public updates on several other case of mega-graft going back 2, and/3or years that one can only ask: Why? Why the public announcement of this particular case involving the misappropriation of funds while Gambians have never been updated on other scandals of the last two years replete with a 3-paged twelve-point press release?

Why is the supposedly independent and apolitical “straight arrow” Attorney General fast-tracking a scandal that is smack in the middle of racketeering base and conversely, why are the cases implicating Yahya’s associates and a one-time confidante now not getting the same publicity, visibility and sense of urgency the Tax Evasion Commission (and others implicating commission members ) not  receiving? I ask this because justice is supposed to be blind.

Why is government seemingly blind to some cases and eagle-eyed on others? Let’s be honest, the government of Adama Barrow is proving once again, the malleability of the Gambia’s system of jurisprudence – to the whims of the country’s executive, judiciary and the legislature. This is consistent with the history of the country’s application of the law; of justice – always dependent on who the suspect is.

Let’s also call a spade a spade: President Adama Barrow and those around him have decided to weaponize this latest iteration of the “Janneh Commission of Inquiry” and with the spineless administration  in tow, the cabal have their sights trained on former officials of the regime and those around them.

Effectively, “Yahya Jammeh’s people are being finished” and the Justice Minister and team are willing participants in the “finishing”. It is a tried and true modus operandi of the Gambia’s executives that they have used to bring down anyone they are afraid of – seemingly legally!

It is also what autocratic legalism looks like: An autocrat tilting the scales of justice against their one-time comrade now-opponent even though the autocrat has committed crimes that dwarf those committed by their target – by several scales of magnitude.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice’s memo speaks to a level of granularity and of details that would be impressive – were its standard operating procedure across the board sans prejudice and in total fidelity to the law.
It is not.

The approximately one-thousand-word release talks about an “immediacy” and “meticulousness” and “expeditiousness” that remains missing in many cases – especially those involving persons close to Yahya Jammeh. To be sure, graft, especially the ones that are now par for the course in the current regime need to be investigated in an expeditious manner and those found guilty held to account. In fact, since President Adama Barrow et co have taken to borrowing from China maybe they should ask them for a few pointers on how to deal with cases of graft! (For the record, China executes corrupt officials)

However, the Diplomatic Passport racketeering is not the only mega-scandal of the last 3 years with Adama Barrow at the helm and unless I am mistaken, I am not aware of statute of limitations on grand theft of public funds.

Additionally, I am not aware of any changes in the law that precludes the Attorney General from demonstrating the same “immediacy” and “thoroughness” in investigating vehicles donation to National Assembly members by a faceless philanthropist. The mysterious amount of $752,544.42 bank transfer that was deposited in the First Lady’s foundation that carries her name – Fatoumata Barrow Foundation (FaBB).  The amount was electronically transferred from the industrial and Commercial Bank of China to the GTBank in Banjul via Hong Kong.  Although this transfer took place that it became known to the public that led to a barrage of questions from journalists and political commentators and opposition party surrogates.

The revelations in connection with the D 10,000 monthly stipend offered to some members of the National Assembly which some have alleged to have been a bribe to win their support in the president’s attempt to win the presidential nomination of his political party. Police seized a container that was loaded with 1,263 rifles. The guns which were imported from Turkey belonged to Abubakar Jawara, the chief executive officer of GACH Security Ltd. The importation of deadly semi-automatic rifles, channeling illicit bribe money through proxy Foundations and releasing convicted Norwegian pedophiles who’ve violated Gambian children as young as 3 years old is a poor judgement.

The recent seizure of cocaine involving foreign national and the Diplomatic Passport racketeering and those sacred cows who were adversely mentioned in the Tax Evasion Commission scandal where accountants and lawyers and owners of companies that “irregularly pocketed 2 billion Dalasis tax evasion in – cases going back 2-3 years ago!
These were cases implicating professional colleagues and godfathers miraculously overlooked when the man chest-thumped the proclamation that “anyone with details on graft by the first family should report it to the Janneh Commission Of Inquiry.

How can the government of Adama Barrow – be serious about prosecuting graft when they can’t even do so with a modicum of impartiality? And given that obvious bias at the pace and the aggressiveness with which this coalition government pursues graft/ers, why would anyone take either Adama Barrow and his Attorney General and Minister of Justice miraculously in their efforts or their pleas to report and/or support said efforts?

Why would any Gambian with evidence of graft and/or ill-gotten wealth implicating President Barrow government officials walk into the directorate of criminal investigation’s office and hand over an envelope or flash drive of said evidence to a legal system that is demonstrably biased and far from blind in its pursuit of justice? It is that fatal a proposition – to impugn the probity/source of the wealth of those who control the legal system and importantly, the instruments of death!

The Gambia is literally littered with bodies of individuals who thought they were doing the right thing by presenting evidence implicating someone in graft and malfeasance so Barrow’s plea not only rings hollow, it is a deadly. Maybe that is why Attorney General is spinning himself silly trying to create the impression that this time, the “war against graft is ‘reel’…” and it might as well be “real”. It is also selective and biased as evidenced by the fast-tracking of some cases and slow walking of others.