By: Foday Manneh
From Bond Road to the National Assembly in Banjul, the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) youth wing held a peaceful protest urging action against rising corruption in The Gambia.
The procession, which took place on Friday, March 10, 2033, was described by organizers as “historical” for the first time in the country’s history after proceeding peacefully per the security advice given.
The team, led by a five-member delegation, mainly from the UDP youth wing, submitted two copies of their petition to the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly of the Gambia.
The 7-page petition called on the Gambia Government to design a robust anti-corruption institutional framework anchored on laws with prevention, investigation, and prosecution strategies against corruption that will inspire public officials to carry out their work conscientiously for the public good.
The petition also urged the government to end the abuse of office by thoroughly investigating and prosecuting all public officials and organizations accused of wrongdoing.
The plea also noted that recovery of monies stolen and misappropriated from the state by former President Yahya Jammeh has yet to be transparently explained to the people or satisfactorily accounted for by the Barrow Government.
Among various scandals highlighted by the protesters are; the “anonymous donors” of vehicles to the National Assembly, the Banjul Roads Project, Semlex National Identity Card Project, the GMD 35 Million credited to the Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Foundation, Covid 19 Funds, the GMD 400+ million Gambia Ports Authority embezzlement scandal, the GMD 164 million Securiport Affair and missing GMD 10 million Global Fund.
“Remembering the draft constitution, we are again skeptical that this anti-corruption bill may face the same fate. So we are presenting this petition to unanimously call on the National Assembly to do their best and favor the country to pass the bill,” UDP Youth Wing President Hagie Suwaneh said while submitting the petition to relevant government officials.
In receiving the petition on behalf of the Minister of Justice for further submission to the President, Solicitor General Hussein Thomasi assured the protesters of the government’s commitment to addressing all corruption cases at the courts.
“I just want to assure you that the government is committed to the fight against corruption. So is the government’s initiative to bring the anti-corruption bill before the National Assembly — before that, parliament approved the initiative, validated it, and put it before the National Assembly,’ Solicitor Thomasi said.
“It is at an advanced stage and would soon become law. The recent case of Dr. Banja is an example. Other cases before the courts, such as the Diplomatic Passport case, the GamPetroleum trial, and other cases linked to corruption, are before the courts. The government is taking zero-tolerance for corruption. Be assured that the concerns you have raised will be addressed.”