Morro Jawla, Chief of Sami District in the Central River Region (CRR) north, has described his retirement as “a surprise, forced and politically motivated.”
Chief Jawla said the authorities sent him into retirement when he was mentally and physically capable of carrying out his duties and responsibilities. He had never applied for retirement.
He made this disclosure in an exclusive interview with The Allamba Times (TAT) barely 72 hours after receiving a letter from Ousman Bah, the new Governor of the CRR.
According to Jawla, it was on Thursday 4th August when officials from the Governor’s office delivered the letter to him, adding that he had never discussed retirement with either the Governor or the Minister for Local Government; nor did he ever apply for retirement.
He further said that he is not mentally or physically incapacitated to execute his duties and responsibilities, which would be grounds for retirement according to the Constitution.
In the interview, the chief persistent claimed that the decision to retire him was not based on law; and not in line with good governance since he was elected by the people of Sami district in a free and fair election held in 2000.
“My removal is a big surprise because I have not applied for retirement. So far, I have the health and the mental ability to carry out my duties and responsibilities. I believe the move by the authorities is politically-motivated.
He said they “failed to consider that I was voted into office by the people of Sami, and I have done nothing that could warrant my retirement.”
The 1997 Constitution provides for the election of chiefs. However, the same Constitution also provides for the removal of public officers by the Executive “for inability to perform the functions of his or her office whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or for misconduct.”
Chief Jawla went on: “It’s like they forced the retirement on me for refusing to engage in party politics during the last Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Also, because of my relationship with Ousainou Darboe (leader of the opposition UDP), who is my biological uncle.”
He also alleged that he has been a victim of ‘political conspiracy, and is aware that he was reported many times to the former Governor (who is now Minister for Local Government) and even to the President for not participating in the election campaigns for both the presidential and National Assembly elections.
“My decision not to participate in partisan politics is anchored in my belief that I was elected and sworn to serve all the people of Sami, including supporters and members of all the political divides.”
The chief continued: “My decision was also encouraged by the President himself when he held a meeting in Sami, where he told the audience that I did not speak because no chief has taken the podium since he started his 2021 campaigning.
“This was why when the then Governor (Hon. Abba Sanyang) called me three (3) days after the President’s visit to ask me to join the campaign for President Barrow in my district, I refused.”
He further alleged that wrong information was often being peddled against him in the corridors of power “by political witch hunters and opportunists,” which finally led to his forced retirement.
He challenged the President, Minister for Local Government, and the regional Governor to justify his forced retirement to the Gambian people.
When contacted, Governor Ousman Bah stated: “I don’t want to speak on this matter, and I will suggest you call the Ministry for Local Government.”
TAT obtained a copy of the letter of retirement of Chief Morro Jawla, dated 1st August 2022 and signed by Ousman Bah, Governor of CRR, in which no reason was stated.
It would be recalled that in 2007, Chief Morro Jawla was dismissed by the former President, Yahya Jammeh, who replaced him with Katim Leigh of Sami Pachonki.
Katie Leigh served for only three (3) years and passed away, and was subsequently replaced by Mam Demba Jallow, a wealthy cattle owner, who served for six (6) years.
After the new Coalition government replaced Yahya Jammeh, Chief Morro Jawla returned to the chieftaincy in 2017.
However, in another twist of fate, Chief Morro Jawla has again been replaced by Mam Demba Jallow of Jalokoto village in CRR.