The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: Jammeh Rejects Plea to Pardon Njogu, Jobarteh and Barry

President Yahya Jammeh Jammeh has turned down pleas by the Committee of Banjul Muslims Elders to pardon former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Affairs and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr Njogu Bah, former Justice Minister, Lamin Jobarteh and former NDEA director of intelligence and investigation Foday Barry.

Jammeh, who was speaking last Thursday during his annual Koriteh meeting with the Committee of Banjul Muslim Elders at State House, stressed that the trio "must face the full force of the law."

Giving a rational explanation of his stance, President Jammeh said he could not remember the number of times he warned the two (Jobarteh and Njogu Bah), and their refusal to learn from the brushes he had with them.

"If you are talking about others, and you don't want to mention their names, let me make it very clear that if you are talking about Njogu Bah and others, these are people that I cannot pardon, because Njogu Bah, you people are aware that I have removed him several times and brought him back," he said.

Explaining further, Jammeh said: "At the office here, I went to the extent of calling him and telling him if at all he relies on marabouts, marabouts will never work on my (Jammeh's) affairs. I will jail you.

"Again, I put it in minutes that any day I am ready with you (Njogu), you will underrate the marabouts that you rely on. How many times have I removed Njogu Bah of his appointment?"

Stating that he resorts to the courts to prove his evidence, and that he sacks for a reason, the Gambian leader said: "I have once jailed Lamin Jobarteh during the transition alongside Foday Barry, but they never change. These are people that you should not even waste your time about, because I will never pardon them. They will face the full force of the law, because they are tarnishing the name of this country using my name, which I have never authorized them to do."

He noted that it is the role of the Muslim elders to advice culprits when they realize that the person is going against the law.

"I will never just jump and touch people; I will talk and talk before anything. So you the elders have to talk to my ministers and those working for my government and the youths and not wait until things reach the level of the law, then you want to beg me; this cannot work."

"But my appeal to you is that whether you know what they have done or not, if I remove a Minister and returned him back, it is your duty to call him and advice him. Sometimes, when I remove people and you beg me to return him back, if I do so, they say 'the President is confused, I have not done anything that is why he is returning me', when it was people who appealed to me to return him back.," he explained.

He stated that because of this saying that 'I have not done anything', now anybody he sacks, he will prosecute you because he has evidence to take them to court so that people can know what they have done.

"Whoever I appoint, I don't know how many relatives he or she has, so if I sack the same person, everybody will stand up and say President Jammeh is bad. A Muslim should not do that because when I was appointing your relative, you never told me 'thank you', so if I sack him, you should not insult me. That is very un-Islamic."

Jammeh went on: "Today, if I want to send one of my ministers to the UK or America, they will tell you that the visa will take one week or two, but if I sack a minister and he gets to the embassies, within five minutes they will give him a visa".

Jammeh, whose address revolved around discipline, religious tolerance, marriage and the interpretation of Islam, tasked the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, GSIC, to embark on a sensitization campaign to draw attention on the mistreatment of women in marriage.

The Imam Ratib of Banjul, Alhagie Cherno Kah, called for discipline as the only moral safeguard in present times.

GSIC president Alhagie Momodou Lamin Touray appealed for the constant monitoring of behaviour that contravenes Islam.

The Amir of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jamaa't, Amir Baba F Trawally, pleaded with President Jammeh to use his prerogative of mercy to effect the release of some deserving inmates in honour of the occasion, a plea that arouse strong support from other members of the Cabinet including Dr Momodou Tangara, minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and Momodou Aki Bayo, minister of Regional Governance and Lands.

The Vice President and Minister of Women's Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, dwealt deep into the complex issue of forgiveness, and who deserved to be pardoned, to justify the challenge President Jammeh faced in applying the instrument.

Also speaking earlier was the Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, who called on the elders to talk to family members of those tarnishing the image of the country online.

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