Victims’ Center: Board Chairperson Denies Allegations of Micromanagement

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Sheriff Kijera, Victims' centre Board chairperson

By: Foday Manneh

The Board Chairperson, Sheriff Kijera, and other members of the board of the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations have been accused of micromanaging the institution’s operations.

The victims’ center represents the interests of victims of human rights violations and abuses of former President Yahya Jammeh in the transitional justice process.

Sources close to the center told this medium that the victim center recently faced various setbacks in its operations and management due to alleged malpractices undertaken by its board.

“It has a secretariat, and a board mandated to oversee and execute oversight functions, while the Secretariat is the body responsible for running the day-to-day activities,” a source told Alkamba Times.
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“The board chairman has been nominating himself to attend conferences with financial benefits. These are mainly the functions of the Executive Director,” the insider added.

The board has also been accused of attempting to make specific amendments to the organization’s bylaws to receive certain favors in the institution’s running.

“They recently moved to amend some specific clauses in the bylaws, such as the board’s term limit, general term limit, and eligibility criteria,” a source told TAT.

“These are not good practices because no sitting board in any given organization should be able to amend its own laws to extend their term in office,” the person said.

The bylaws of the center, seen by TAT, state that all board members shall serve two-year terms but are eligible for re-election for up to two consecutive terms.

As the organization prepares to stage its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in February 2023, sources say the rationale behind the proposed amendments is “selfishly” motivated.

“The board feel they have work to complete and cannot entrust anybody to succeed them at the victims center, which is not their function but the Secretariats responsibility,”

The board chairman, Sheriff Kijera and other board members have also been accused of financial micromanagement.

“He initiated a donation tour to Senegal sometime this year to seek funds for the organization. Five officials went on that tour, and each was given a per-diem of D45,000,” the source laments.

The source said this trip was meant to mishandle the organization’s resources, as they came back with nothing except an MoU signed with another organization in Dakar.

“They claimed that the tour was sponsored by The Gambia Revenue Authority, but they have never presented any financial report to the organization. So we never knew how the second trip was funded.”

Another source made similar revelations, saying the alleged actions of the board have left the institution with severe consequences.

“Many people resigned and left. And these people have sacrificed and contributed immensely to the organization’s formation. However, they are frustrated with what is happening and decided to leave.”

There is fear that if alleged malpractices within the center persist, potential donors could leave, and the members’ work could be jeopardized in ensuring the full implementation of the TRRC white paper.

In response to these allegations, the board chairman, Sheriff Kijera argued that he and his board members are serving the victims’ center at their own cost without receiving any enumerations.

Mr. Kijera, however, denied the board’s interference in the work of the Secretariat and clarified their position.

“They invited me to radio talk shows and other programs. I serve them because of my capacity. I will never micromanage the center, which I’m fully representing.”

“We are giving free medical and educational support to victims. We want to ensure justice is served and reparations achieved,” Kijera added.

On allegations of attempts to amend the organization’s bylaws, Mr. Kijera assured that the process is a “normal move.”

Chairman Kijera dismissed allegations of mishandling the center’s funds on a self-purported donation trip.

“There is no single person who received D45,000. We went to Senegal for just three days, and we have been paid a normal DSA, and the funds did not come from the coffers of the victim center.”

Kijera said the sponsorship of the Dakar trip was a success due to his board’s efforts and sacrifice.

“We traveled to Dakar, where we signed an MoU with Trust Africa. We made a proposal with them to popularize the government’s white paper on TRRC,” he said.

“Last week, the grant was approved by Trust Africa at the tune of $25,000 (D1.5 million) to implement the popularization activity,” Sheriff told TAT.

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