First Gambia President, Dawda Jawara Dies At 95

President of Gambia Dawda Kairaba Jawara’s visit to the USSR. Dawda Jawara signs the book for honourable guests. Lev Ivanov / Sputnik

 

Dawda Jawara, the first president of The Gambia following independence from Britain, died Tuesday at the age of 95, officials said.

Current President Adama Barrow, in online comments, described Jawara’s death as “a great loss to the country in particular and humanity in general”.

Fisheries Minister James Gomez told AFP that “the former head of State Sir Dawda Jawara died this afternoon. Flags would fly at half mast” and the body will lie in state for mourners to pay their respects.

Jawara, a Glasgow-trained veterinary doctor, led the former British Colony to Independence on 18th February 1965 until July 1994 when his reign was brought to an end by a bloodless military coup led by Yahya Jammeh, who went on to rule the tiny West African state for 22 years.

The Gambian presidency, in a statement on Twitter announced that a state funeral would be held on Thursday.

“In honour of his enduring legacy, President Barrow has ordered that the former president be accorded a befitting state funeral and that flags at all public institutions to fly at half-mast.

“Sir Dawda has lived a life that epitomises peace, tolerance, respect, and patriotism. His time as president has put the country on the path of development at both human and institutional standards. His legacy as the father of the nation shall forever live on.”

Jawara was born in 1924 into a Muslim family in central Barajally, where his father was a tradesman.

He worked as a vet and it was not until 1960 that he decided to enter politics, joining the Protectorate People’s Party in 1960 while the country was still under British rule..

His party, which later changed its name to the People Progressive Party (PPP) won the elections in 1962 and he became the country’s prime minister.

That was the post Jawara held when The Gambia gained its independence in 1965, ending British colonial rule which begun in 1888.

It was not until 1970 that he assumed his post as the country’s first president.

Jawara resisted post-independence pressure to become part of neighbouring Senegal, which surrounds the whole country with the exception of its Atlantic coastline.

Following his 1994 ouster, Jawara sought refuge in Britain where he lived with his family until 2002 when he returned home after President Jammeh granted him amnesty and returned his assets to him.

While in power his regime was considered one of the most democratic on the African continent.

AFP

Gambia Removes Yahya Jammeh’s Image From Bank Notes

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

The face of former president Yahya Jammeh, which was printed on all bank notes in The Gambia, has been removed from new bills more than two years after his flight from the West African country.

With accusations piling up that Jammeh ordered dozens of assassinations, the central bank in Banjul, began distributing new 50, 100 and 200 notes in the local dalasi currency from Tuesday.

All the new notes have birds on one side and a variety of local scenes on the other, from a farmer in a rice paddy to a fisherman in a boat at sea.

Local rights activist Madi Jobarteh welcomed the change.

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“A national currency is not a personal property and the head of a sitting president should not be on that note,” he said.

“There are many Gambians who deserve to be on these notes because of their role and contribution in the struggle for independence and development of this country since independence,” he added.

Trader Alagie Kanteh told AFP the bank was “right in removing the image of the former president”.

“He is responsible for the killing of a lot of people in this country.”

Jammeh ruled the tiny state for 22 years after taking power in a bloodless coup in July 1994.

He was repeatedly re-elected in disputed circumstances until defeated in December 2016 by a relative unknown, Adama Barrow.

After a military intervention by other West African states, Jammeh bolted from his country and found refuge in Equatorial Guinea.

Human rights activists accuse his regime of torturing opponents, executions without trial, forced disappearances and rape.

A Truth Commission has since January been hearing evidence of the mayhem, including testimony from hitmen who said they carried out dozens of murders for Jammeh.

Just days ahead of a major Muslim holiday, central bank governor Bakary Jammeh said he expected strong demand for the banks notes, which will soon see old ones bearing Jammeh’s face taken out of circulation.

AFP

Gambian Ex-Dictator ‘Handpicked’ Women For Rape, Abuse – HRW

Yayah Jammeh: Handover Deadline May Be Extended

 

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh “handpicked” women whom he would rape or sexually coerce, offering cash, gifts and other privileges in exchange, international rights groups said on Wednesday.

“Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” said US attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“But rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law, and no woman is beneath it.”

Jammeh ruled the tiny West African state for 22 years before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea after losing elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016.

His regime was notorious for its brutality and corruption, but this is the first time that his sexual abuse of women has been extensively and publicly documented.

The investigation, by HRW and a Swiss NGO, TRIAL international, is based on evidence from several women, eight former Gambian officials and several other witnesses, they said.

Jammeh had “protocol girls” who were required to be on call to provide him with sex, according to their report, issued in Dakar, the capital of neighbouring Senegal.

He “handpicked young women to satisfy his sexual fantasies,” according to a top aide quoted in the report.

As an inducement, he would lavish gifts on them or provide support for their impoverished families or offer a scholarship to study abroad.

They were required to live next to his residence and were barred from leaving without his authorisation — and if they refused his sexual demands, he would threaten them or hit them.

The “protocol girls” were overseen by his female cousin, Jimbee Jammeh, who also procured other women for him, the report said. She fled with him to Equatorial Guinea.

Several women have gone on record with their experiences, it said.

One of them was Toufah Jallow, then an 18-year-old drama student, who was the 2014 winner of the main state-sponsored beauty pageant, which Jammeh had lauded as “a means to empower girls”.

Over six months, she refused his advances, rejected his offer to become a “protocol girl” and a proposal to marry him, Jallow said.

After aides brought her to attend a pre-Ramadan Koran recital at the presidency, State House, Yahya locked her in a room, hit and threatened her, injected her with a liquid and raped her, according to her testimony.

She fled to Senegal days later.

Gambia has set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to shed light on Jammeh’s reign.

“These admirable women broke the culture of silence. It is now crucial that the TRRC and the government give them a path to redress and justice,” said Marion Volkmann-Brandau, who led the research.

“It’s time for the ‘shame’ of rape to switch sides.”

Jammeh is also accused of spiriting away hundreds of millions of dollars — one estimate put it as high as one billion dollars (880 million euros).

Best Route To National Development Is Stability – Buhari

Best Route To National Development Is Stability – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari with President Adama Barrow of The Gambia at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on August 1, 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says there is no development without stability, as development is usually the first casualty in an unstable polity.

The President made the declaration on Wednesday when he received President Adama Barrow of The Gambia at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“The best route to national development is stability,” he said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina. “When a country is not stable, you spend most of your financial resources on security.”

“That is the money that should have gone into education, infrastructure, and generating employment for the people, particularly youths,” President Buhari added.

He congratulated Mr Barrow for stabilising The Gambia after his emergence as president after the impasse when his immediate predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, initially refused to vacate office after losing the presidential election in December 2016.

In his response, The Gambian President thanked President Buhari for the role Nigeria played in helping his country return to the path of constitutional democracy.

He also congratulated the Nigerian President on his emergence as the new Chairman of ECOWAS.

Barrow noted that he was the first foreign leader to visit Abuja after the development.

Gambian Govt Condemns Ex-President Jammeh’s Planned Return

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

Banjul on Thursday condemned former president Yahya Jammeh’s pledge to come back to the West African country in a leaked phone call that went viral on social media.

“Neither man nor (spirit) can stop me from coming back to The Gambia,” Jammeh said in the leaked tape, comments the current government subsequently called “shocking and subversive”.

It said that in light of Jammeh’s record of “state-orchestrated disappearances, kidnappings, murders,” it would act accordingly and decisively, without further elaborating.

“The leaked tape…

revealed in significant detail the former President’s desperate efforts to stay politically relevant in The Gambia even as his trail of terror and economic crimes are being cased for potential criminal prosecution,” the government said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the former ruling party, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said it was probing the leak of a call between its members and the ex-president – the first time the country’s old ruler has been heard of since he fled in 2017.

Jammeh, whose 22-year-rule was marked by numerous human rights violations, lost the presidential election in December 2016 to then opposition leader Adama Barrow.

He went into exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 when armed intervention helped end his rule.

There have been numerous calls for Jammeh to be returned to his native country to be prosecuted for the alleged human rights abuses, including the killing and torture of opponents — although a share of the population still supports him.

AFP

Falcons To Complete Task Against Gambians On Monday

FILE PHOTO

 

The Super Falcons will play to secure a place in the 11th  Women Africa Cup of Nations when they take on Gambia’s Queen Scorpions in Lagos on Monday.

Amarachi Okoronkwo’s long-range strike was the difference in the first leg encounter at the Independence Stadium in Bakau last week Wednesday.

On Friday, just like the Falcons, the Queen Scorpions arrived in Lagos, and trained on Saturday morning ahead of the official training at the match venue on Sunday.

Coach Thomas Dennerby sees no sign of the Cup holders imploding on home soil, and the Super Falcons will maintain their record of appearing in every edition of the flagship competition for women in African football if they avoid defeat on Monday evening.

Veteran goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, who was between the sticks in Bakau, will most likely have Faith Michael, Ngozi Ebere, Josephine Chukwunonye and Onome Ebi in front of her, with Halimat Ayinde, Ngozi Okobi and Captain Rita Chikwelu (who missed the first leg in Bakau) to string things in midfield.

Reigning African Woman Player of the Year, Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Francisca Ordega and Anam Imo are available and will bring the desired quality that the Falcons will need to secure victory.

 

AIDS Patients Sue Gambia’s Ex-President Jammeh Over Fake Cures

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

Three people living with AIDS in Gambia are suing former president Yahya Jammeh.

They alleged that the former president detained and abused them as guinea pigs to test his supposed cure for AIDS.

“My clients are claiming damages for false imprisonment and (declaring) that the defendant subjected the plaintiffs to inhumane and degrading treatment contrary to the constitution” while they underwent Jammeh’s alleged HIV/AIDS cure, one of their lawyers Combeh Gaye told AFP shortly after filing the suit on Thursday.

Jammeh, who has lived in Equatorial Guinea since January 2017 when armed intervention helped end his tough 22-year rule, claimed to possess a range of mystical gifts, including the power to cure asthma, epilepsy and sterility as well as AIDS, using plants and chants.

The AIDS patients who have gone to court are two men of 63 and 64 years old and a woman of 51. They are members of associations that support people living with HIV/AIDS.

Shortly after Jammeh in January 2007 publicly announced his “discovery” of an AIDS cure, the three plaintiffs and six other people, including a minor, were invited to meet the president at State House and became his “first batch” of experimental subjects.

In their court case, they testified that top among Jammeh’s “rules was that the members of the group should immediately desist from using any anti-retroviral drugs and/or any other form of conventional medication” given to people with HIV/AIDS.

Jammeh kept the patients locked up during some six months of treatment until July 2007, brushing aside their objections to being filmed during the alleged therapeutic sessions. They later learned that videos had been broadcast on state media, including official GRTS television, the three plaintiffs said.

Despite the ineffective and painful nature of the supposed remedy, the first batch of subjects backed up Jammeh’s claim to have cured them when they were discharged. The court case specifies that they “were compelled by fear and threats from the defendant’s agents”.

Then health minister Tamsir Mbowe joined Jammeh in “false and misleading claims”, encouraging “numerous” other people with HIV actively to seek magical treatment, the plaintiffs argue.

A Muslim onetime soldier, Jammeh seized power in a bloodless 1994 coup in the former British colony, a small enclave of a nation inside Senegal either side of the Gambia river and with an Atlantic seaboard.

From 1996, the increasingly erratic leader won successive presidential elections until he was beaten by opposition candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016, agreed to step down and then changed his mind.

After a six-week political crisis, Jammeh left the country on January 21, 2017, in the wake of military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and a final mediation bid.

AFP

Senate Probes Xenophobic Attacks On Nigerian Judges In Gambia

Senators Disagree As Abaribe Questions Buhari’s Competence
File photo

 

The Senate has said it will probe allegations of ill-treatment and xenophobic attacks on Nigerian Judges and other legal personnel serving in the Gambia.

The Joint Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights, Legal matters and Foreign Affairs have been mandated to carry out investigations on the matter and submit a report to lawmakers for consideration.

A Federal Lawmaker Senator David Umar drew the attention of the Senate to allegations of arbitrary removal or dismissal from office of Nigerian Judges and judicial officers without reasonable cause and without recourse to the bilateral agreement and the Gambia Judicial Service Commission.

The lawmaker moved the motion to investigate the bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Gambia and make recommendations on them.

Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, also raised concerns over the attacks in the state.

He said, “Matters such as this should be of concern as we owe our citizens the duty &r responsibility to protect them.

“This is a matter that concerns two very friendly countries and it is important that we know the true facts and make important recommendations”.

The Senate, therefore, urged the Federal Government to urgently address all cases of xenophobic treatment allegedly suffered by Nigerian Nationals in the Gambia, South Africa and any other African country where similar Agreement exists.

Families Of Jammeh’s Victims In Gambia Demand ‘Truth’

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

Families of the victims of ex-Gambia president Yahya Jammeh’s regime demonstrated on Tuesday to demand the “truth” about their deaths and disappearances.

They accuse Jammeh, who ruled the West African country for 22 years, of rampant corruption and human rights abuses including forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

“We want justice now,” around 30 protesters shouted as they marched in Banjul, an AFP journalist said.

Last year, authorities announced that the remains of Gambians killed while fighting for the end of the Jammeh regime had been exhumed.

“A year later, families and friends have no information about the whereabouts or fate of the deceased,” said Zainab Lowe, sister of a member of the presidential guard who disappeared in 2006.

“This time the waiting is over. The truth must be told and we need justice,” she added, on behalf of the families of the victims.

Jammeh was defeated by Adam Barrow in a December 2016 presidential election, a result which he fought for weeks until the threat of a regional military intervention.

He is currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

AFP

Gambia Arrests Former President Jammeh’s Ex-Spies Over Detention Death

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Last Chance To Resign
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

Ten members of Gambia’s former spy agency have been detained on suspicion of murdering a political activist who led a protest during ousted strongman Yahya Jammeh’s rule, police said Tuesday.

Solo Sandeng, the organising secretary of the United Democratic Party, was arrested in April 2016 for fronting a street protest demanding electoral reform. He died in detention.

“Two have been granted bail and eight are still in custody,” superintendent David Kujabie Tuesday told AFP.

Nine staff at the former National Intelligence Agency, including former director general Yankuba Badjie, are currently on trial at the Banjul High Court for their alleged role in the murder as well as the torture of opposition activists.

Thirteen witnesses have so far testified in the case which continues to attract crowds but has suffered repeated delays since it opened a year ago.

The UDP was the main opposition party in the West African state under Jammeh who used the intelligence agency to enforce his rule.

Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and ruled the former British colony with an iron fist for 22 years, during which he was accused of rampant corruption and human rights abuses.

He had himself elected and re-elected president until he lost a vote in December 2016 to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

After a six week standoff, Jammeh was finally forced to hand over power and left the country on January 21, 2017, after the intervention of the Economic Community of West African States.

Barrow’s government has pledged to protect human rights, including freedom of expression and press freedom, which were tightly controlled under Jammeh.

AFP

Jammeh’s Loyalists To Face Charges In Gambia

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Last Chance To Resign
Former Gambia’s President, Jammeh

A dozen Gambian soldiers will face charges for nine different offences, an army spokesman told AFP on Saturday, amid fears that a faction of the military remains loyal to ex-president Yahya Jammeh.

The charges were laid out at a court martial hearing held on Friday, where 12 officers were presented to a military panel and a civilian judge in a case shrouded in secrecy.

“Twelve army officers were arraigned before a court martial at Yundum barracks yesterday,” army spokesman Lamin Sanyang told AFP.

“They are charged with nine criminal counts, but for now I cannot go into the details,” he added.

Pleas will be entered on November 27, when the men are expected to be formally charged.

Separately, military sources told AFP the charges relate to sedition accusations and suspicions of loyalty to former President Jammeh, who ruled the small west African nation with an iron fist for 22 years.

A coalition of opposition parties fielded standard-bearer Adama Barrow as their candidate in December 2016 elections, who ultimately defeated Jammeh and took over the presidency in late January.

There have been concerns about lingering Jammeh supporters in the ranks of the army, evoked back in July by Colonel Magatte Ndiaye, the head of a Senegalese army contingent still deployed to The Gambia by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He told AFP that rebel elements were intent on destabilising the country and working with exiled Jammeh-era top brass, though President Barrow has said such reports are “hugely exaggerated”.

Cross River Set To Float Cally Air And Shipping Lines

airline and shipping line floating plan underway in cross riverCross River State Government has completed plans to float its own airline as well as a shipping line, as part of efforts to increase revenue and lower dependence on federal allocation.

Addressing reporters in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade said the state was taking full advantage of its huge tourism potentials and vast maritime resources by going into both airline and maritime services.

Huge Maritime Resources

The governor noted that while Cally Air was expected to transport tourists from all over Nigeria to the beautiful tourist sites dotted across the state, particularly the famous Obudu Ranch Resort, the shipping line would concentrate primarily on cargo services, especially along the shoreline of the Gulf of Guinea.

Ayade maintained that “Cross River State is only taking full advantage of its huge maritime resources by focusing on maritime trading particularly, cabotage services by providing merchant vessels that will ply the Gulf of Guinea and provide services to countries along this shoreline.

“In our 2017 budget, there is a provision for a merchant vessel that will provide maritime businesses with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun and the entire stretch of the shoreline.

“There is another provision for Wharf landing and other support services. So, we are also going to have a fabrication yard and other allied maritime services as we refocus on broadening the maritime sector in the state”.

Justifying government’s decision to venture into maritime services, Professor Ayade reasoned that with the maritime trade and connectivity along the region, his administration was confident that the return on the investment would definitely be huge and contribute immensely to the budget of infinite transposition.

“Our vessels are already berthing in Calabar as part of investment in 2017 because we are establishing business outlays in some West and Central African countries dealing mostly on petroleum products and because Cross River State is looking at an aggregate of driving an industrialised, business-like module for governance, soon, you will see us go into full time trading.

“That is why in our budget, we have budgeted about 14 billion Naira to expand investment in this direction to the Gambia,” the Governor explained.

Professor Ayade further told reporters that the state had the capacity to handle the huge investments, knowing full well that, it is a very delicate combination of public-private service administration structure running it from a private business perspective.

Cross River is announcing its plan two days after Imo State government said it had taken delivery of the first aircraft, to kick start, as the first state owned commercial airline, Imo Air.

During the official launch of the new airline at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the Governor Rochas Okorocha said the investment by the state government would boost economic activities in the state.

He added that it would increase the state Internally Generated Revenue and also generate employment opportunities for teaming unemployed youths in the state.