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16 DAYS TO NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA AWARDS – THE GAMBIA

NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA AWARDS – THE GAMBIA at the Ocean Bay Resort in Cape Point, on Saturday 23rd of November 2019 at 8pm. A memorable night celebrating the brotherhood between The Gambia and Nigeria. This event will have in attendance top Nigerian professionals who have contributed immensely to the legal, education, medical, commerce, diplomatic and military fields among many others in the Republic of The Gambia. Nigerians have rendered their support to this nation through the Federal Government Technical Aid Programme as well as through other formal and informal bodies.

NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA AWARDS – THE GAMBIA

NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA AWARDS – THE GAMBIA at the Ocean Bay Resort in Cape Point, on Saturday 23rd of November 2019 at 8pm.

A memorable night celebrating the brotherhood between The Gambia and Nigeria.

This event will have in attendance top Nigerian professionals who have contributed immensely to the legal, education, medical, commerce, diplomatic and military fields among many others in the Republic of The Gambia. Nigerians have rendered their support to this nation through the Federal Government Technical Aid Programme as well as through other formal and informal bodies.

European Tourists visiting The Gambia despite Thomas Cook’s liquidation

European Tourists visiting The Gambia despite Thomas Cook’s liquidation
European travel agents bringing tourists and other visitors to The Gambia have confirmed that despite Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities that recently entered compulsory liquidation, reservations to Banjul will continue and that is “not” affecting bookings as previously thought.

Several interesting locations in the country such as The Gambia National Museum, Abuko Nature Reserve, Kachikally Crocodile Pool and Bijilo Forest Park have been revealed and identified for European travelers and tourists to experience during their stay in The Gambia.

Certain towns and villages such as Banjul, Brufut Beach and Wassu were branded as “stunning places to see.” Serekunda Market and Tanji Fish Market are also recommended for tourists.

In a rare shift portraying the country as ‘‘dictatorship that could easily slide into an unpredictable event’’, the European Press is currently depicting the Gambia as a ‘‘good country to visit’, taking into consideration the current political dispensation.

Respected media organizations now consider the country as ‘‘friendly and attractive for visitors’’ and further highlighted many areas of interest to visitors.

The reputable and respectable Telegraph in the UK has revealed more than a dozen ‘‘reasons’’ for visiting The Gambia. It includes ‘‘cruising the river Gambia; bird watching at dawn; meet some island-whooping chimps.”

The paper also disclosed to tourists some personal areas that may be worth experiencing such as ‘‘tracing the grim history of the slave trade and visiting an art village.” Even ‘‘hanging out with village elders’’ was also cited to European tourists.

Notwithstanding, in some quarters, visitors are cautioned to be careful and suspicious during certain dealings or movements; however, the general view is optimistic and sanguine.

A ‘‘tourism advice’’ script seen by this correspondent also revealed that the Gambian Ministry of Tourism and Culture had ‘averted the sudden trauma against its industry during the event of Thomas Cook’s cessation.”

It further revealed that Hamat N.K. Bah, Gambian Minister of Tourism and Culture ‘‘handling of the incident was remarkable.” It added that an ‘‘inclusive meeting of all stakeholders both inside and outside of the country seeking remedial actions yielded a very positive results.”

President Barrow Promises to Launch Investigation on Fire Incident

President Adama Barrow has promised to set up an enquiry to investigate the Sunday night fire incident at Jimpex.

The fire incident reportedly broke out from the gas depot on Sunday evening spreading to the nearby companies, warehouses and car garages.

The incident claimed several properties including buildings and vehicles in the vicinity of Jimpex – Kanifing Industrial Area. The area is designated to be an industrial area and it hosts several factories including gas factories.

“An enquiry team will be set-up to look into what had happened and to establish the facts that caused the fire,’’ he said.

Barrow said the investigation will be to inquire as to what caused the fire and for the team to provide them with the recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence of such fire incidents in the country.

“It is a very unfortunate and difficult situation….We cannot thank enough the respondents from the fire service team for the hard work. They work under very difficult circumstances, but the good thing is they are determined to put out the fire and contain the situation,” President Barrow told the press, adding preventive measures will be taken to reassess the safety standards in place at similar facilities across the country.

President Barrow announced that the government will set up a commission of inquiry to look into what had happened in order to establish facts around the cause of the fire and how to avoid future recurrence..

After enquiry, he said the damage caused by the fire will be assessed, adding that from there they would know what exactly happened and what government can do. Additionally, the assessment will further enable the government to establish the level of damage caused, he added. President Barrow assured that the government will give all the support within its capacity to the victims of the incident.

Kisham Reepchandans, who was in tears while speaking to reporters, said his company had many building materials such as toilets seat, teals, water paint and tools for building.

Kisham Reepchandans

“My business is finished now. I lost around 10 to 15 million dalasi. I cannot survive. I cannot continue, because all my hard-work since 25 years ago….., all I worked for  from evening and night is gone. I’ve to pay people’s load,’’ he said while tears filled his eyes.

“I cannot continue,’’ he added. “It started when a gas company’s tank of gas was leaking on Sunday. It exploded and was spreading all over and it then hit my store and everything went on fire,’’ he said.

“I’ve 15 employed Gambians and 3 Indian employees. I’m completely finished. I cannot work now. President Barrow who is a good friend was here and has also felt sorry about the incident. I was not here when the leaking happened because Sunday was not a working day,’’ he explained.

He continued: “People living within the area saw the leaking and informed the company owner.”

He said no one informed him that a gas tank was leaking in the nearby company. He said he received the information about the incident after the intervention of the Fire and Rescue Service.

 “It was our Indian festival on that Sunday, we were at home with our family. We couldn’t do anything since everything vanished away,’’ he said.

Dodou Trawally, the Executive Director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), said they usually do rapid assessment when such incidents happen.  He added that a team of inspectors from Fire Service, NEA and Disaster Management are on the ground to ascertain what caused the incident.

He said, “We feel people really need to know what’s happening. We’re waiting for the Police to help us with the crowd for the inspectors to do their job. The rapid assessment would be able to know how many cars, building and properties were damaged.’’

“Looking around, you will know a huge damage occurred here,’’ he said.

Abdul Rasheed the owner of Pure & Drinking Water company said he has been operating since 2006. He added that he lost 5 million dalasi after the gas explosion.

“I lost dozens of bottles of water. My two standby generators were burnt but the water processing machine is saved,’’ he said. He added, “we would like compensation from the government, but we will also file report and proceed to a lawyer.’’

Hadim Gogan, the owner of the gas-company said the inferno consumed the consignment of gas he ordered for the country.

He explained: “The problem started when the gas-tanks arrived and some were discharged. We cannot ascertain what coursed the explosion until the investigators are ready.”

Hadim said he cannot estimate the loss he incurred as a result of the fire incident. He added that nobody lost his live as a result of the incident.

Is the IEC financially independent to carry out its work?

Section 44 of the Constitution states:

The Independent Electoral Commission shall submit its annual estimates of expenditure to the President for presentation to the National Assembly in accordance with this Constitution. The President shall cause the estimates to be placed before the National Assembly without amendment, but may attach to them his or her own comments and observations.”

Hence the IEC is supposed to regulate the income of its Commissioners and staff, make projections regarding its requirements of its operations, and submit a realistic budget to the National Assembly.

The Executive has no mandate to alter the budget of the IEC. It is therefore hoped that as the new electoral cycle begins the IEC will be able to execute its duties.

Gambia Government Accepts Janneh Commission Recommendations against Edward Sighatey, Others

The Gambia Government has accepted the recommendations made by the Janneh Commission against former leaders of the AFPRC Military Government.

The recommendations are contained in the White Paper published by the Government shortly after cabinet met and deliberated on the findings and recommendations of the Commission. See the Government’s decision below:

Mr Ebou Jallow, Mr Edward Singhateh, and Mr Yankuba Touray were all soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces and together with former President Jammeh, constituted the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) in 1994. They held various positions in Government including Spokesperson of the AFPRC, Vice Chairman of the AFPRC, and Minister of Local Government, respectively.

The Commission found, inter alia, that they were involved in financial dealings of the AFPRC and its Chairman former President Jammeh.
The Commission found that the AFPRC forged diplomatic relations with Taiwan in the expectation of obtaining financial aid for their Transition Programme. Taiwan gave The Gambia a loan of $35 million. The Commission found that Mr Jallow negotiated for $5 million cash payment of the said loan on the instructions of former President Jammeh which was bought to The Gambia by special flight and presented to the AFPRC. Mr Jallow and Mr Edward Singhateh deposited the amount of $2.3 million at the Central Bank of The Gambia. $2.7 million has not been accounted for amidst claims that it was handed over to former President Jammeh. Mr Yankuba Touray was responsible for supervising the Transitional Programme projects.

The Commission found that the AFPRC failed to account for $32,220,000 of the loan from Taiwan, and that they are jointly and severally liable or answerable for the amounts not accounted for. The Commission noted further that the ouster clauses under the Second Schedule of the 1997 Constitution do not apply as the members of the AFPRC were not acting in the performance of their official duties or in exercise of their executive powers when they operated outside the framework of the law and/or misappropriate public funds.

The Government accepts the findings of the Commission in so far as they relate to Mr Ebou Jallow, Mr Edward Singhateh, and Mr Yankuba Touray. The Government has noted that the collective actions of the AFPRC in overthrowing a democratic government in 1994 set the stage and substantially enabled former President Jammeh perpetrate and perpetuate the unprecedented looting of The Gambia’s meager resources to the detriment of the country.

Consequently, the government has decided that they (Mr. Ebou Jallow, Mr. Edward Singhateh and Mr. Yankuba Touray) are not fit to hold public office and should be banned, and Mr. Ebou Jallow, Mr. Edward Singhateh and Mr. Yankuba Touray are hereby banned from holding public office for the remainder of their lives. They are also banned from holding any director positions in any state-owned enterprises in The Gambia for fifteen (15) years from the date of publication of this White Paper.

Mr. Ebou Jallow, Mr. Edward Singhateh and Mr. Yankuba Touray are hereby ordered to pay back to the state the sum of $32, 220, 000 within 30 days from the publication of this White Paper failing which their properties will be forfeited to the state and sold. The proceeds of sale shall be applied to the payment of monies for which they are found to be liable for in the report, in addition to criminal proceedings to be instituted against them.

Protocol Alagie Ceesay Harps on Jammeh’s Sexual Relationships

The Chief of Protocol at the State House has on Monday, 28th October 2019, testified that his former boss President Yahya Jammeh used to have sexual relationship with some ladies.

Alagie Ceesay said he was responsible for coordinating meetings and trips for the former President. Ceesay testified there were girls who were having sexual relations with former President Yahya Jammeh. He said there were girls living in the State House while some others used to come after working hours who used to have sexual relationship with the Gambia’s former president.

The 59 – year – old said one Jimbe Jammeh was the link between the girls and the former President and she was responsible for facilitating their meeting.

The Protocol Officer confirmed to the TRRC several names of women who the former President used to have sexual relations with, although they are under protection by the Commission. He said there were girls who were brought to him by the former President as protocol officers at the Office of the President.

Ceesay said the normal process of employing these girls as protocol officers would require his involvement and the Public Service Commission but instead, these women were employed based on Jammeh’s directive.

“It was an executive directive that select these protocol officers. You don’t have a choice. There were lot of them who came, mostly girls,” said Ceesay.

“You have a lot of them who were academically limited… I would find some of them to be good but others, not… It was an open secret. Some of them are “Special Ladies,” Ceesay said.

He said even the officials working at the State House at the time knew that the issue of protocol officer is obscure. The girls were being used for something else – sexual relation.

He said the former First Lady used to travel frequently and he does not know why she used to travel every time.

Mr Ceesay was re-appointed Chief of Protocol by President Adama Barrow in 2017. He was appointed Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President in 2009 and promoted to the portfolio of Chief of Protocol in 2010. He said two years later, he was demoted and later appointed as the PS to the office of the former First Lady.

State House ties Barrow’s stiff-arm attitude towards media to way some journalists ask questions

Director of press and public relations at State House Amie Bojang Sissoho has suggested President Adama Barrow’s stiff-arm attitude towards the media is down to the way and manner some journalists ask questions.

President Barrow since August 2018 spoke to the independent media once – Paradise TV – after a news conference that will be remembered for his total meltdown.

Top political commentator Dr Ismaila Ceesay had last year branded the president as clueless but at a press conference, President Barrow fired back at Dr Ceesay in a riposte that went massively viral. Gambians online later mocked the president by using his own phrase against him – ‘where were you’. President Barrow has since not participated in any news conference and speaking to only one independent media, Paradise TV.

Amie Bojang Sissoho in an exclusive interview with Kerr Fatou said some journalists ask questions in a ‘disrespectful’ way, prompting the presidency to have a change of policy.

“We voted for the president but we should not disrespect him. If he agrees to sit and chat, that chat should be done respectfully. But if we realise that Fatou will disrespect me when we sit, I will not sit with you,” Bojang-Sissoho said.

US-based communication expert Alhassan Darboe reacted to Mrs Bojang-Sissoho’s mindset saying the State House press secretary is the ‘disease and cog’ in the wheel of presidential public relations.

“Amie Bojang has no vision and is out of touch with modern public relations practice and mass communication. She is barely educated, inexperienced (PR wise), professionally rusty, unrefined, arrogant and the biggest public relations imposter to come out of The Gambia.

“Amie Bojang as a leader in her capacity is reactive and not proactive. She does not build bridges with the media but burns them. Amie Bojang should be moved to one of the Gambian embassies abroad and be replaced with a seasoned Public Relations expert who can properly sell Barrow to Gambians and control the narrative than constantly trying to put out fires,” Darboe said.

“Rumours say Koro Ceesay was killed in Yankuba Touray’s residence”

Ensa Mendy, the second prosecution witness in the murder case involving Yankuba Touray, on Thursday told the High Court in Banjul before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh that it was rumoured that Koro Ceesay was killed in Yankuba Touray’s residence.

He was continuing his evidence-in-chief, being led by the state counsel, A.M. Yusuf. Defense Counsel Sissoho announced his representation for Yankuba Touray.

At the resumption of the case, A.M. Yusuf asked the witness to continue from where he stopped. He told the court that when they returned from the beach side, he went inside the compound of the accused, adding that the accused was coming from his living room and passed him, and later opened his bedroom door and closed it.

He informed the court that the bedroom door of the accused and his living room are opposite, noting that the house was wet with water. He revealed that he proceeded to the living room and all was muddy with water. He testified further that he went back to his residence and prepared himself, adding that he had his bath.

At this juncture, A.M. Yusuf asked him at what time he was asked to go back to the residence of the accused.

In response, he stated that it was between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. He adduced that whenever they were on duties at the residence of the accused, it was his duty to know the guard commander in case of any emergency.

He stated that he knows Lamin Bojang, adding that they attended the same school and they are residents of Brikama.  He said that they joined the National Army at the same time, adducing further that he did not go with Jangom and Lamin Bojang to the beach.

He informed the court that Ousman Koro Ceesay was the Minister of Finance.  A.M. Yusuf, at this juncture, asked him what Chairman Jammeh’s position was at the time he was travelling out of the country. He replied that he was the Chairman of AFPRC and the head of state.

“Was it part of your scheduled duty as a bodyguard of the accused to be deployed at the beach to patrol?” the state counsel asked him. He answered in the negative.

“Apart from that particular assignment, were you ever instructed by the accused during the period you served as his bodyguard?” A.M. Yusuf wanted to know. The witness answered in the negative.

Under cross-examination by the defense counsel, it was put to him that he was never appointed bodyguard to the accused. In reply, he told the court that he was appointed bodyguard to the accused.

“I was given arms to protect the accused and at the same time, I was his orderly. It was Basiru Barrow who told me that I am the personal bodyguard to the accused,” Mr. Mendy told the court.

The case was subsequently adjourned to the 4th November, 2019, for the defense counsel to continue the cross-examination of the witness.

Gambia hosts West Africa leaders forum on population, development

The National Youth Council in collaboration with its partners, Wednesday hosted a two-day West Africa youth leaders forum on population and development.

Held on theme: ‘ICPD25, the contributions of west African youth to accelerating the promise’, the forum is said to be the first West Africa youth leaders forum on population and development and seeks to engage youth on the implementation of their role to the Nairobi summit.

Deputising for the Director General of West African Health Organization (WAHO), Mr. Mongbo Medessi Yves Armand, public officer for maternal and child health at WAHO, said issues concerning young people should be given main concern in all development policies.

He said an estimated 60% of the population of the region is young people less than 35 years. This, he said, clearly suggests that young people are the future of the nation.

He indicated that much progress has been made since the 1994 international conference for population development (ICPD).

‘But the road to achieving universal access to sexual and quality reproductive health services for young people remains long.’

He noted that the West African Health Organization as part of its mandate advocates for governments and development partners to increase investment on youth education and health.

To also encourage partnership and networking amongst young people within the ECOWAS Region, it is important to strategically position young people in other to attain the agenda for the upcoming Nairobi summit” he added.

Hassan Jallow, the representative of the Minister of Youths and Sports said the government of The Gambia under the leadership of H.E President Adama Barrow has recognized young people as a significant factor in national development.

‘The Gambia has always been at the forefront in championing and promoting youth development at all levels.’

He noted that the National Youth Council is a public agency established in year 2000 by an Act of Parliament, saying council seeks to mobilize and enhance the participation of young people in national development efforts.

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