By: Kebba Lamin Nanko, PPP USA Chapter
Following the recent judgment of the High Court ordering the Gambia government to return the former Ministers People’s Progressive Party (PPP) assets which were seized by the military junta that led an unconstitutional military takeover. In their ruling, the court set aside the Bamfo commission that was set up to probe into their assets that it was not properly constituted is great news. Especially to the people most among them, party members and families who keep faith in the PPP and believe its politicians weren’t corrupt.
The Bamfo Commission was meant to be the commission that was to reveal the corrupt nature of the PPP politicians. However, since 1994, the commission’s report has never been made public and the government has never written a white paper as per the findings of the Commission to justify their sing-sang song “corruption, nepotism, accountability, transparency, and flamboyant lifestyle.”
The Late Hon. Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ) over the years almost every year challenged Yaya Jammeh to make the Commission findings and report public but remained futile. This demonstrates that the AFPRC junta has just used a populist campaign with false information to denigrate the PPP regime to the Gambian population, especially to the younger generation.
Justice Akoto Bamfo was quoted by the judiciary of Ghana and subsequently reported by the Point newspaper that before the Commission could present its report, a member had leaked it to the AFPRC Junta. “I was then told that if I failed to make adverse findings against some ministers, the objectives of the Revolution would have failed. We later booked an appointment to the Presidency. We sat there for close to four (4) hours; the Secretary General came to inform me that the President had a toothache so there was no way he could see me, and asked us to come the next day. I said to him I had booked my flight. So, I just took the report and handed it over to him, and left. I later learnt that the report was rewritten.” Justice Akoto Bamfo.
The above statement by Justice Bamfo has exonerated the PPP Ministers. If the current government has the original report of the Bamfo Commission, they should make it public to restore the dignity and integrity of the former PPP ministers and their families affected by false information by the Junta. The PPP politicians have worked under very difficult circumstances to take the Gambia from where it was with sacrifice and selflessness.
The PPP, NCP, and GPP had petitioned former President Yaya Jammeh for the abrogation of Decree 89 “It is our considered view that Decree 89 has had no democratic or legal justification whatsoever to have been enacted let alone for its continued existence and inclusion in the statute books of our beloved nation. To us the only purpose Decree 89 has served is that it has disfranchised a selected number of citizens of this country, some of whom gallantly and patriotically were in the front line during the struggle for statehood and the period thereafter when the nascent state badly and urgently needed their services to reach the desired level of maturity, but on whom the said decree has unjustly and wrongly stigmatized without proof of any wrong doing either during their service to the nation or in their private lives as lawful citizens”. Omar Amadou Jallow, Sheriff M Dibba, and Assan M Camara (22nd June 2001).
President Barrow, being the commander in chief of the armed forces and the custodian of the constitution of the Republic of the Gambia should consider returning the assets of the PPP. These assets were taken illegally through an executive order by the AFPRC and they went further to band the party unlawfully for seven (7) Years before it was lifted in 2001. Even after the lifting of the band, the APRC government refused to return our assets.
In 2018, a PPP congress resolution was passed for the party executive to engage the government for the smooth return of our assets, and I am aware that the executive of the PPP did engage the President about our assets.
I personally advocated for the party to go to court in other to retrieve our assets, but the leadership of the party prefers dialogue with the president to amicably resolve the matter.
After seeing the president inaugurating political bureaus in the regions built by the NPP for their sustainability. This demonstrates the vision of the founding fathers of the PPP in acquiring those assets for the same objective. “That is why, when in 1984 we observed a quarter century of our party’s existence, we also saw the need to put together in words and images an account of this party, of the men and women who have shaped its destiny and ensured its continued success and survival through hard and good times. In particular, it is addressed to the younger generation who will have to bear the torch into the distant future.” Dawda K. Jawara Secretary-General of the PPP – The Voice of the People (the story of the PPP from 1959 to 1989)
It would be unimaginable for anyone to believe that the young NPP less than four years can build political bureaus in all the corners of the country with many pickup vehicles and many other assets will doubt the ability of the PPP to have some assets to its name.
The PPP made a declaration signed by the late Dawda Kairaba Jawara on 10th July 1996“ The party has been dispossessed by the state of its headquarters in Banjul; files and documents have removed from the bureau by agents of the state and taken to an unknown destination; all the vehicles of the party numbering 10 pick-up vans have been seized by the state and are being used by state agents; other party offices outside the city of Banjul have also been seized by the state and in some cases allocated by it to the 22nd July Movement and others. It is an endless catalogue. All of it is done for no justifiable reason and without any regard to due process of law. We do not recount this catalogue of injustice with any sense of bitterness but more with concern for the blatant disregard of standards of justice and fair play which have traditionally been the norm in our society”. Kairaba page 458
“In September 1994, I was asked to come back and face a commission of inquiry or risk the loss of all my assets, under decree No. 11. And indeed, by decree, the AFPRC regime seized Bakamon (21 Leman Street) even though the property is owned by a political party, the PPP. Kairaba Page 388
Some of these assets are:
- Bakamon (21 Leman Street) is occupied by the immigration as their headquarters
- The Office of the Independent Electoral Commission in Banjul
- The PPP bureau in Brikama was previously occupied by the July 22nd Movement and the Green Boys.
- Ten pickup Vans (used by state agents)
- Party pieces of furniture, documentation, and other properties.
- Party Bank accounts
I am hoping the president will reflect on the relationship he has had with the PPP since 2016, to use the same powers used by the Junta to return all our assets with compensation from the government.