Popular Posts

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Kasa Jatta vows never to surrender as opposition

Firebrand UDP Youth Leader Kassa Jatta: ' I WILL REMAIN AS OPPOSITION "
By Managing Blogger, Sainey M.K. Marenah
 
The youth leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has vowed not to ever surrender as an opposition militant, stating that he is even stronger being a member of the opposition.
Dodou Kasa Jatta, long time ruling APRC party critic, told The Point in an interview yesterday that people should forget about him quitting the opposition.
“I am more stronger today than ever before, and will remain an opposition member forever,” Jatta asserted.
A native of Bakau, Jatta is of the view that Bakau, known for its style of politics will remain an opposition stronghold despite the fact that the ruling APRC swept the polls there during the last presidential election.
“Bakau is an opposition stronghold since the PPP regime, and up to date the people of Bakau are dead UDP supporters. Politics is about experiences, is about challenges, and we in the opposition know this very well,” he added.
The people of Bakau, he said, are still where they were during the PPP regime.
“They (Bakau) are with UDP because they believe that it is only the UDP that can effect change in this country,” Jatta further stated.
Quizzed as to whether the defection of Rambo Jatta, a former UDP strongman now with the APRC, will not pose any threat to UDP’s chances in Bakau ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary polls, Jatta dismissed the suggestion, noting that the UDP will continue to fight for the country.
“I bet the APRC will not win again in Bakau; come next month’s parliamentary polls, we will defeat the APRC, believe in me,” Jatta told this reporter.
On the UDP’s preparations ahead of the parliamentary polls, Kasa Jatta said UDP will be going all out to contest so as not to allow the APRC take all the seats in the National Assembly.
“If we do not contest the coming polls, what happened in 2002 will happen again; the APRC will win all the seats in the parliament, but we hope that will not happen because we have learnt the consequences and the lesson for such a thing,” he noted.
On whether he has plans to seek the people’s mandate in Bakau, Jatta responded: “I am not too sure whether I will contest myself, but any candidate chosen by the UDP will surely win.”
“We will always face the challenge, and surely we will win,” Jatta further stated.
Concluding, Jatta called for a violence-free election, urging all political parties to exercise restraint during the Elections as Gambians are peace-loving.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Darboe speaks on New Year

Thursday, January 05, 2012
The leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe, has predicted that the year 2012 will be a very tough year for the country, but also expects it to be a year of collaboration between every sector of Gambian society.
Darboe, who lost to President-elect Yahya Jammeh in the 24th November 2011 presidential polls, described the year 2011 as one full of events.
“The year 2011 was a year that witnessed the misuse of authority, misuse of power and discretion. This was a year that also saw the clamping down on dissenting views,” he added.
Darboe expressed hope that in 2012, “Gambians will know who the killers of Deyda Hydara are, we will see Kanyiba Kanyi and Chief Ebrima Manneh”.
“We also hope that the historic accomplishment that is alleged to have been brought by the July 22 military takeover will really be historic. We hope that 2012 will begin to usher in those things,” he said.
“We hope that 2012 will certainly not be a year when Gambians continue to be impoverished; hope it will be a year for the beginning of prosperity for us and our children.”
Expressing concern over what he described as the rising cost of living, Darboe asked how could civil servants afford to meet the rising cost of living in this country, when there is no corresponding increase in salaries?
Most civil servants, he said, cannot afford to buy a bag of rice for D1000, which is now the situation in many places around the country.
“How many people in these communities, who do not depend on salaries or even monthly wage earners, will be in a position to afford a bag of rice at that price and attend to all other expenses of the household?” he further asked.
Commenting on recent calls for opposition leaders in the country to apologize to Gambians for betraying their trust and confidence, the UDP leader stated that what exists in The Gambia is a democracy; a country of free speech and free expression, and people have a right to their own opinion.
“I do not believe that my party has disappointed Gambians. We have not disappointed the Gambian people, and that we have done exactly what the Gambian people wanted us to do.
“The Gambian people are very grateful to us, and they would want us to continue with the work that we have been doing for the past several years,” he added.
Darboe went on to call on Gambians to take the forthcoming National Assembly elections seriously, noting that they should never allow the parliament to be entirely dominated by the ruling APRC party.
“They should work towards having representatives who will speak on their behalf, and not representatives who will be looking into somebody’s eyes or trying to please someone,” he added.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

State drops charges against Pristine Consulting officials

After nearly one year of a legal battle between the Gambia government and Pristine Consulting, the state yesterday dropped the charges and withdrew the case at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, where the company and its senior officials were on trial.
Known as Pristine Consulting Intelligent Application, the local IT firm, contracted by the government to produce the new biometric national identity card, was dragged to court for breach of contract.
Justice Emmanuel Nkea the presiding judge was informed of the state’s decision to discontinue the case by the Deputy Director of Special Litigations at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Simon Abi.
Abi told the court that the state was applying to withdraw the charges against the three defendants, Pristine Consulting, its Chief Executive Officer Abdourahman Touray, and Assan Touray the Chief Technology Officer of the company.
The state counsel’s application for withdrawal was granted, when the trial judge made a ruling to that effect.
“Having listened to the learned state counsel’s application to have the matter discontinued, and having also heard defence counsel Ida Drammeh’s endorsement, I shall proceed to order as follows:
“That this matter was accordingly struck out and the accused persons herein are hereby discharged; that any document or property hitherto retained from any of the accused therein in connection with the case to be released to them; all previous orders made against the accused persons herein were deemed quashed.”
He ruled that his orders be carried out henceforth, adding that there shall be no further orders.
Readers would recall that the company and its senior staff were charged with two counts of economic crimes, one count of conspiracy and one count of theft.
The charge was that between 20th April 2009 and 10th March 2011, being the persons engaged in the processing of the biometric ID card and other official documents, they produced and sold and intentionally withheld the sum of twenty-seven million, six hundred and one thousand and ninety dalasi, and thereby caused loss to the government.
The accused persons and their company Pristine Consulting were further accused of being the persons engaged by the Gambia government to produce and supply finger scanning machines and accessories, and that they intentionally failed to produce and supply as required and thereby caused an act detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.
Count three stated that between 20th April 2009 and March 2011, the accused persons conspired to deceive the public by printing and selling Gambian biometric ID cards and driving license, residential permits, all of which contained the biometric chip.
A further accusation made against the accused persons and their company stated that Pristine Consulting, Assan Touray and Abdourahman Touray, on 20th April 2009 received on behalf of the government of the Gambia twenty-seven million, six hundred and one thousand and ninety dalasi.                              

Former Chief Justice at Tax Commission

By Sainey M.K. Marenah, Managing Blogger

Former Chief Justice Abdou Karim Savage and other legal practitioners yesterday came before the tax commission sitting at the high court premises in Banjul.
Hawa Sisay-Sabally, Bola Carrol, Omar MM Njie, Mary Abdoulie Samba Christensen, all legal practitioners, as well as officials of Databank and Deloite & Touché Associates, gave evidence during yesterday’s sitting of the commission.
Established in November 2011, the commission of inquiry looks into tax evasion and other corrupt practices of accountants, legal practitioners, companies, and private persons, medical practitioners and institutions required to pay tax to the Gambia Revenue Authority.
The commission was also mandated, among other things, to ascertain the extent of loss of public revenue resulting from non-payment of capital gains tax, personal income tax and sales tax; and to determine the role of individuals, groups and professional bodies in the evasion and avoidance of tax.
It will also enquire into professional malpractice by members of the public as it relates to obtaining goods through widespread issuance of false and dud cheques and other malpractices by members of professional bodies as these have affected foreign direct investment in The Gambia.
Bola Carrol, a legal practitioner for 21 years, told the tax commission that he got enrolled to both the Gambian and Nigerian bar in 1990, adding that he also worked at the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Carrol told the commission that he went into private practice in October 1992 adding, “I have been paying my taxes since 1995/6 and my staff strength is two people.
“I have paid my personal income tax, sales tax and pay as you earn tax (known as PAYE).
He showed the commission the receipts of payments including for sales tax from 1999 to 2011, personal income tax from 1998 to 2011 and PAYE tax from 2004 to 2011.
The state representative at the commission, Mr. Morris, applied to tender the said documents, which were admitted and marked by the chairperson of the commission, Justice Mama Singhateh.
Hawa Sisay-Sabally recalled that she was called to the bar in 1990 and started legal practice in 1991 at the AG’s Chambers, and once served as Secretary of State for Justice.
She told the commission that she paid her sales and personal income taxes, as well as PAYE up to date.
She showed the commission her receipts of payment, which included personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, sales tax from 1999 to the third quarter of 2011 and PAYE tax from 2004 to 2011, which were admitted by the commission.
She recommended to the commission that tax laws should be harmonized because they are many Acts on taxation, and there was a need to look into and harmonized these Acts; and also to build the capacity of tax collectors to ensure compliance.
She urged massive sensitization of the citizenry about the different types of taxes, adding that the tax deposit before registering a business is discouraging investors.
She also recommended drafting local statutes rather than relying on others.
Omar MM Njie said he is a legal practitioner, who was called to the bar of England in 1991 and The Gambia the same year, adding that he briefly worked at the AG’s Chambers.
He started active practice in November 1993, adding, “I have always endeavored to pay my taxes.”
Njie showed the commission the receipts of payment of his sales tax from 1999 to 2011; personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, as well as his “PAYE.”
Mary Abdoulie Samba Christensen, said she was called to the bar of England in 1991 and in Gambia in May 1992, adding that she opened her own chambers in 1995.
She told the three-member commission that other than legal practice, she is into business too.
“I always do my best to pay my taxes,” she said, adding, “I have receipts of my payment of sales tax from 1999 to 2011, personal income tax from 1999 to 2011, as well as employer’s tax.”
Her receipts were marked by the commission.
A former Chief Justice, Abdou Karim Savage, was also at the commission, which he informed that he was called to the bar in 1999 and worked at the AG Chambers. He told the commission that he did not practise, since he was removed from office as Chief Justice of the Gambia.
“I don’t have any chamber, but render legal services from 2010 to 2011,” he said.
His income tax receipts for 2010 to 2011 were marked.
Olu Jacob Thomas, office manager at Data Bank Security informed the commission that his office is a primary dealer to the Central Bank of the Gambia, adding that they started operations in 2003.
He said they paid company tax from 2003 to 2004, income tax from 2003 to 2011 and employers tax from 2004 to 2011, the receipts of which were all marked.
The commission ordered the management to provide them with MoU signed between them and the Central Bank of the Gambia as soon as possible.
Cherno Alieu Jallow, chartered accountant at Deloitte and Touché Associate said he joined the said company in 1999, but in June 2003 he was admitted as a partner.
He also told the commission that after the company’s name was changed in 2011, he became the managing partner, and showed the commission the receipts of payments made.
These included corporate income tax from 1999 to May 2011, PAYE, environmental tax, as well as sales tax receipts, which were all marked and admitted as evidence.
Sampierre Mendy, admin. manager at Emanic Consulting Company Limited was also at the commission to produce receipts of corporate tax, sales tax and PAYE paid.
He told the commission that they paid corporate tax from 1999 to 2011, and employer’s tax from 2009 to 2011.
He was told by the chairperson of the commission to make available the receipts of payment of sales tax by 21st December 2011.
The company’s receipts for corporate and PAYE taxes paid were marked.
Sittings of the commission resume on 14 December 2011.

Gambians welcome Fatou Bensouda’s ICC appointment

MK interviewing the next ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensuoda
Having been widely criticized by mostly Africans for its concentration on Africa, hope is rising across the African continent that the International Criminal Court, ICC, will no more be politicized now that it has an African as its chief prosecutor.
Gambian-born Fatou Bensouda has been appointed as the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, becoming the first African to hold the top post at the ICC.
Mrs Bensouda, a former senior legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying key figures responsible for the 1994 genocide in the Central African state, got the job ahead of three other short-listed candidates.
They were Andrew Cayley, the British co-prosecutor at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia; Tanzania’s chief justice Mohamed Chande Othman; and Canadian war crimes specialist Robert Petit.
“To make an African head such an International Tribunal to handle such matters is in line with the principles of justice and fairness,” Gambian sociologist and leading opposition politician Halifa Sallah said in his reaction to the news.
“It is a welcome development, and we do hope that she will leave a legacy that will change the image that some people have of the institution, and transform it into a citadel to combat impunity in the world,” Sallah added.
Many Africans, he pointed out, have complained that the ICC is focusing only on African leaders or leaders from countries that are not linked to the West.
“We hope that having a prosecutor from Africa, and a country like The Gambia with a small population, would eradicate the view many had held that the institution is being politicized to serve the interest of the strong against the weak; the North against the South”.
Born on 31 January 1961, Fatou received a bachelor-in-law degree from OAU University in Nigeria and a barrister in-law degree from the Nigeria Law School.
In addition, she holds a master’s degree in International Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea. This makes her the first international maritime law expert of The Gambia.
Bensouda was elected Deputy Prosecutor of the Court by the Assembly of States Parties on 8th September 2004 and since then has headed and overseen the Prosecution Division of the Office of the Prosecutor.
In 2009, she received the International Jurists Award for her contributions to national and international criminal law.
Before joining the ICTR, she was the General Manager of a leading commercial bank in the country.
“Her accomplishment has put The Gambia on the map in such a positive light. Her appointment without a doubt signifies the commitment she has had to excellence. I am deeply proud of her as a woman, and a Gambian. Mrs. Bensouda is an exemplary model, and I wish her the best,” Fatim Badjie, Minister of Health and Social Welfare also told this paper yesterday.
Mrs Jainaba Nyang of Action-Aid International The Gambia, who is an elder sister of Mrs Bensouda, also told this paper yesterday that Fatou Bensouda’s appointment is a good achievement for the country.
The Gambia, Jainaba added, is a very small country, and this shows that the country can be where other countries around the world are.
“I cannot agree more with what others say. I am speaking from a Gambian perspective, and I can say that we are a small country but we can achieve great things. We can only wish her well and pray for her for God’s guidance. I must also thank all those who supported her during the process,” Nyang added.
Between 1987 and 2000, Bensouda was successively Senior State Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary of the Republic of The Gambia, then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in which capacity she served as Chief Legal Advisor to President Yahya Jammeh and his Cabinet.
Mrs Bensouda also took part in negotiations on the treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Parliament and the ECOWAS Tribunal.
She has been a delegate at United Nations’ conferences on crime prevention, the Organization of African Unity’s Ministerial Meetings on Human Rights, and the delegate of the Gambia to the meetings of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court.
“As a Gambian and African, Fatou’s appointment will further put Gambia on the world map and would go a long way in telling the whole world what The Gambia is capable of doing, despite being a small country,” Ousman Sonko, minister of the Interior told The Point newspaper.
While congratulating and commending Fatou Bensouda for her hard work and steadfastness, Sonko said Fatou’s commitment and steadfastness made her get the position.
“We are very proud of Fatou Bensouda, and we continue to pray for her for Allah’s guidance and protection. We will give her all the support in order for her to discharge her duties as expected. Having worked with her as a colleague, we have no doubt that she is the right guy for the position, because she is honest, sincere and devoted all her time to duty and serving humanity,” Sonko added.
“We are all very proud of Fatou Bensouda’s achievements. This is not only an achievement for her and The Gambia alone, but for the whole of Africa and the rest of the world,” Hamat Bah told this paper.
Leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party, Bah dismissed suggestions that the ICC has over the years been only investigating atrocities in Africa.
“Some African leaders have accused the International Criminal Court of only concentrating on Africa, but this is bogus because we have more of them committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide which are all against the ICC principles,” he said.
“There is no witch-hunting against them. All that the ICC wants is for African leaders to act in accordance with international law,” Bah added.
“It is a very tough job, but we have no doubt that she will scale through, because she has the know-how and the expertise to succeed,” he further noted.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Moses Richards released from prison

Richards finally breath air
By Sainey M.K. Marenah, Managing Blogger
Lawyer Moses Richards, who was recently convicted and sentenced to two -years-six-month imprisonment, has been released from prison, The Point was reliably informed.
Richards, a former judge at the high court in Banjul, was convicted recently by the Magistrates’ court in Banjul, for sedition and for giving false information.
Though family sources did not advance any reason for his release from prison, the move has come barely a week after Richards was said to have written an apology letter to President Yahya Jammeh and begged for mercy.
Our reporter, who visited Richards' Latrikunda German residence yesterday morning, was told by a family member, who confirmed his release from prison, that Richards was out of the house by then.
“Yes, it is true that Moses Richards has been released from prison,” Fatou Kujabi, a family member, said.
It would be recalled that Moses Richards last week filed an appeal against his conviction at the Special Criminal Court, but before it could not be heard the Bar Association, which represented Richards, asked high court judge Justice Nkea to excuse himself from hearing the appeal.
Richards was convicted last month after the Banjul Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of giving false information to the Sheriff of The Gambia in November last year, by stating that the President of the Gambia had ordered the stay of execution of the writ of possession in a civil suit with intent to cause the Sheriff of The Gambia to stop the execution of the said writ of possession.
He was also convicted on grounds that he published a letter to the Sheriff of The Gambia stating that the President of The Gambia had ordered the stay of execution of a writ of possession in the civil suit with intent to bring into contempt the person of the President.

Jammeh boosted by opposition pact failure

President Jammeh, Hamat, Darboe and Sallah
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh has his chances of re-election for a fourth term in office boosted further after efforts by seven Gambian opposition parties to agree a single candidate to stand against him ended without any outcome.
Leaders from the fragmented opposition UDP, PDOIS, NRP, NADD, GMC, PPP and GPDP held weeks of talks, between September and October this year, on fielding a single candidate against Jammeh, but the talks foundered with no agreement on who should put up the candidate.
A press release issued and signed by leaders of the seven parties, among others, highlighted the disagreement among representatives of opposition parties at the said meetings, with just five weeks to go before the Presidential Election slated for Thursday 24th November 2011.
Below we reproduce the full text of the press release verbatim:
We, the undersigned, having met from the 3rd of September to 14th October at the YMCA and People’s Centre respectively have mutually agreed to issue this press release as a true reflection and summation of the deliberations and outcome of a meeting convened in response to an invitation by the UDP for Opposition Parties to meet and discuss the issue of Unity and the modalities of fostering it.
All the non-ruling party allied opposition parties in The Gambia, namely in alphabetical order, GMC, GPDP, NADD, NRP, PDOIS, PPP and UDP participated in the deliberations.
Six long sessions were held characterized by frank, sincere and insightful debates that enabled each delegate to form and even reformulate opinions in the course of the deliberations.
At no time of the discussion was the outcome predictable to anyone. Consultations continued until the 11th hour. All views were entertained and all intolerance muted.
A climate of respect for freedom of expression and tolerance of divergent views was maintained. Decorum ruled the relationship of the representatives.
The outcome of the meeting of 3rd September to 14th October 2011 is that all opposition parties present supported the creation of a United Front.
In terms of the modalities of creating the United Front, a motion was introduced for all parties to support the holding of a convention to determine the selection of a Presidential candidate.
It was moved that proportional representation should be introduced relying on the results of the 1996, 2011 or 2006 elections; that the person who emerges second in the election serves as an interim shadow cabinet prior to the elections and mutually agreed reform agenda should be accepted as an election manifesto.
Participants were requested to endorse the proposal to make the UDP initiative a historical success.
The motion was seconded and supported by 5 parties namely, GMC, GPDP, NADD, NRP and PDOIS. Two parties not in support of the motion were UDP and PPP.
In his closing remarks, Mr Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the UDP, the convener of the talks, expressed his deep appreciation for the response given to the invitation of his party to the talks, and the time, energy and wisdom displayed by all participants to enable us to conclude the talks in a climate of tolerance, respect, and sincerity.
He said that even though the proposal his party made for a UDP-led alliance is not accepted, he is of the view that it could achieve the objectives stated in the motion for a Convention.
He said that his party accepts the outcome in good faith and the historians would record it as an effort by his party to bring the opposition together, even if it did not turn out as they wanted.
The other delegates indicated that history has been made in participating in a meeting where every delegate has the freedom to express his or her views.
They acknowledged that everyone was humble, as true servants of the people should behave.
All views were listened to, and each was free to make and revoke decisions. The deliberations were truly participatory and democratic.
They commended the UDP for taking the initiative, and wished that all emerged from the talks with one voice and one position. They expressed the need to maintain relations between those who support a convention and those who did not, so that through further consultation, unity may eventually be attained.
The chairperson of the talks, Mr Amadou Taal, closed the talks by urging for further consultation to be made to close ranks before nomination.