Its increasingly becoming clear that officials have lost the argument in the mutilated banknotes scandal at the CBG where TAT unveiled high-level graft amid staunch denial by the government, which would rather abrade the press than face the realities of an ever-deepening web of official corruption, making a buffet of public funds and offices for quick riches.
Past months put The Alkamba Times at the center of intense bashing by government officials as the medium uncovered corrupt practices implicating top executives at the country’s Premier Bank.
Both the Gambia government spokesperson Ebrima G. Sankareh and former Information Minister Ebrima Sillah went through several hours of airtime to severely criticize TAT for “setting off” a false storm when it reported the jaw-dropping ‘corrupt practices” among senior officials of the country’s apex bank.
In February, TAT reported that D155m of mutilated banknotes was allegedly given to a senior central bank staff Abdou Ceesay to swap into new notes with a bribe of D11m to some named bank staff.
The platform reported allegations of collusion among some bank staff in executing the transaction but police reacted swiftly by issuing a lengthy statement to ‘assure’ the bewildered population that the case was organized crime. It then suggested unprofessionalism and rash reporting on the part of TAT.
The police used the tail of the release to urge journalists to triangulate their stories before publication. But the most intense assault on TAT came from Ebrima Sillah and Sankareh. Since the publication of TAT’s report, the duo never missed an opportunity to haul the medium into the coal. “The most unfortunate thing about the whole issue is that the editor (TAT) knew what he published was false but he’s still insisting on the accuracy of the story,” Ebrima Sillah told Peter Gomez of West Coast Radio days after the story was published.
And this line of assault was extended to other media. And the attacks, aimed at humiliating TAT and casting aspersions on its editor-in-chief, were stepped up by the government spokesperson Ebrima G. Sankareh.
Sankareh used every platform at his disposal in an attempt to rubbish the report as a mere storm in a teacup. “I would suggest that (CBG scandal) was a storm in a teacup; exaggerated stuff that was actually or… what the Americans say a tempest in a kettle,” he told reporters as late as a fortnight ago. Now that two senior CBG staff have been sent home ‘for not swiftly acting’ on reports of official corruption at the Central Bank, it seems someone deserves an apology.