Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WODD Executive Director, on Women Empowerment

“There are hundreds of educated women up to university level who do not know what’s their constitutional rights are”, Amie Sillah the Executive Director of Women for Democracy and Development told the Musoolula Bantabaa (Women’s Forum).
The gender activist who spoke to Musoolula Bantabaa after the closing of a two day training for 40 women and 10 men said the main purpose of the workshop is to empower and sensitize women on the Women’s Act 2010 because after the parliament ratified the Act, all women organization were ask to sensitize them on the community level.
“And my role as an activist is to promote the rights of women, which I have done for decades by working with the grassroots of rural and urban poor women.”
Amie who recently won an award for to her dedication in changing the lives of poor women said her Organisation empowers women with knowledge of Democracy, Women rights. “We also give grants for Economic Empowerment to women”, she said.
She said the participants have been trained on Gender Equality and Equity, Good Governance, Social Justice, Social Inclusion and related issues.
“By democracy, we refer to the political system where the women in a given society are also given the right and the possibility to participate freely as individuals or groups, directly or indirectly.”
The women participating in the forum have always believed that they are owned by their own husbands. Society where male ideology is dominant, where male say “I own the female” has made the poor women, even the conventionally educated women.
Madam Sillah added that women issues are commonality and in order to eliminate this philosophy, women should be given equality in the social sphere, access to justice “we want our lives to be protected.”
“When it comes to atonalism these women want equal remuneration. But when it comes to the low rank that is where the problem is because there are instances before girls/women are given a job your boss has to go to bed with you. Where are we after our integrity is being violated”, she emphasized.
She said the issue of violation is best looked at through the lens of evolutionary psychology.
She added that such jobs are not sustainable after losing your dignity and honor. “Our dignity is sacred and should protect it by all means. I know women are very tortured by this.”
She also told Musoolula Bantabaa how women are being given loan at high interest rates that they end up selling their properties to pay the high interest rate loans for women make them poorer. She stated that if anyone wants to empower woman they should be given loans at reasonable interest or interest free loans. Before giving a fish to a woman, teach her how to catch fish and then feed her for life.”
Politically, she said women have the right to vote and to be voted for. “We have been rallying, dancing, cooking and clapping for men for so long, adding that now it is time that capable women, poor women take the leadership.”
She implored that women get the knowledge and stand for election either in the national assembly or council elections.
Women in the ruling party have a level of consciousness to take advantage of the opportunity as women can be voted in just as men. She said leadership requires honesty and strength as the destiny of the country lies in the hands of both men and women.
 Aji Fatou Mboge, participant said the training could have come at a better time like this.
She added that they have been edified on the rape of teenage girls, which is becoming rampant, adding that they have been lectured how to protect their girls from being victims.
Sharing her story with participant, Fatou explain her ordeal as tears runs down her cheeks:  “I once spend a night in a kitchen.” I did everything with my husband and after having seven children with him he went and married a young teenager who was young enough to be his grandchild.”
“What is stopping men by helping us and empowering us like the prophet use to do with his wives?
Fatou Bah, also a participant said they have been trained on marriage and divorce. “I think divorce should be last stage of marriage. The responsibilities of women are many combined with taking care of the children, which the men have little to do specially if he has many wives.”
For her, she said, she sees no reason why men should marry many wives when they are unable to provide shelter and clothing for the first wife.
 She added that registration of marriage was one of the issues they discussed during the workshop. “It is very applicable to register for marriages for proof. She said that would enable one to know how much the man spent on her in case of any hitch in the future. The elders who tied the marriage will not want to go to court to serve as witnesses when the need arises. As a result, she said the man will obviously win the case taking all your children with him.
“If my husband divorces me then I don’t think he will treat my children well”, she concluded.
She said because of parents’ lack of understanding she was unemployed; they were poor and the man she was dating with was paying for my training after her form four. “After my parents realized that they stopped the man from paying for my education and get me married to another man”, she said.
“Thanks to WODD who helped me realize my full potential”, she said with relief.
An elderly participant, Aminata Camara said illiteracy often excludes women from written knowledge and decision-making.
She said lack of awareness is one of the major challenges hindering the advancement of Gambian women who do not comprehend the subject.
She said she never dreamt about women expressing their sufferings. “I always thought: Should women bear the brunt suffering until we die and have no right”, the old woman said.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women Speak Out Against Suffering

Scores of ordinary Gambian women have admitted that they have been naively enduring forms of human rights abuses, according to the executive Director of Women for Democracy and Development (WODD).
The women came to speak out about against their sufferings after undergoing training on national and international laws that guarantee their rights, thanks to WODD.
With funding from US Ambassadors’ Democracy and Human Rights Fund, WODD is now training both women and men to become trainers on women’s rights.
The fifth such training was held at the Girl Guides Hall in Kanifing attended by hundreds of women as a follow-up to four other workshops held in other regions of The Gambia.
“After listening to the lectures, the women gave feedbacks about their hardships and sufferings,” said Amie Sillah, WODD executive director.
She said she trained the participants on the Women’s Act 2010, the Maputo Protocol among other regional and international legal and policy instruments that protect women’s rights.
According to her, the women in all four regions gave their recommendations to the government, the donors, WODD and the communities as stakeholders.
“The government of the Gambia under the Women‘s Act has an obligation to fulfill its promise to the Gambian women which is to protect the social, economic, political and cultural rights so that Gambian women can enjoy dignity, liberty and prosperity,” she noted.
Madam Sillah noted that religion does not deny women their dignity and liberty to ensure that women develop, but it is the existence of certain traditions and cultures that negate the struggle of women in realizing their objectives.
WODD which empowers women with knowledge of Democracy, Women rights, Gender Equality and Equity, Good Governance, Social Justice, Social inclusion and all related issues has successfully conducted four regional workshops, the Executive Director said.
These include: Bansang, Upper Fulladu West; Jarumeh Koto, in Sami District; Jappineh in Jarra Central district and Kerr Omar Saine in Jokadu District.
Mr Zack Bailey and Janko Fofana of the US embassy underscored the importance of women empowerment in national development.
Mr. Bailey pointed out that the project is not assisting only WODD but also other women groups, including the Female Lawyer’s Association of the Gambia (FLAG) and GAMCOTRAP, among others.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Views on the Significance of International Women’s Day

“International Women’s Day that offers the world the opportunity to reflect on the status of women, with the objective of highlighting their contributions, achievements as well as their limitations in terms of promotion of gender equality and empowerment at all levels.” So said the Mrs. Isa Davies, Director of Information Services in a interview with Musoolula Bantaba anchor.
As the world, The Gambia included, commomerated International Women’s Day on March 8 - last week Wednesday, Musoolula Bantaba went out and about sounding the opinion of various people .
In an effort to provide an amalgam of thoughts, we spoke to women as well as men for the derivation of a meaning for the day, manners of commemoration and the impacts expected.
The Bantaba was first opened to Mrs. Isa Davies, Director of Information Services who has this to say when asked to share her view:
 “As a woman I feel happy, because International Women’s Day makes our voices to be heard and for us not to remain in limbo. I think this year’s celebration is worth celebrating, because it is a day that women come together to celebrate their achievements politically, economically; past, present and the future. Women have been doing really well.”
As women, she said:  “We cannot forget that women have achieved and improved themselves over the years. Women are going to universities, women can work and still have and raise a family, and women are astronauts, engineers, prime ministers, politicians and even presidents.”
Madam Davies said International Women’s Day (IWD) was first declared in 1910 with the first IWD event held in 1911. 2011 sees 100 years of International Women’s Day. Having been celebrated around the world, widespread increased activity has been anticipated globally on 8 March 2011 honoring 100 years of International Women’s Day.
She added that The Gambia is a country that lived for several centuries simultaneously and our people encapsulate all the contradictions that come from being a multi cultural, multi religious society– especially in the case of women
She stated that IWD is a day that offers the world the opportunity to reflect on the status of women, with the objectives of highlighting their contributions, achievements as well as their limitations in terms of promotion of gender equality and empowerment at all levels.
For Mariama Bah, lady councilor for Banjulinding Ward, this day is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, economic or political.
She pointed out that it is an occasion to take a fleeting glance at past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
 “I think women leaders should address issues that are affecting rural women. They appear to be fighting for our rights and welfare, but it is the other way round. More investment in improving the lives of rural women could create a springboard for better education, improved health and higher income,” said Binta Dampha of Ndungu Kebba, North Bank Region, adding that the rural woman is so unfortunate.
Fatou Touray, Senior reporter with The Gambia Info in sharing her view said the gap between men and women should be bridged by raising awareness on a day like IWD.
“Women should know the worth of celebrating the day. It helps us to come together and unite in a unified platform, in an outward appearance to stand for ourselves and for men to join and help us too, because whatever we do is for the sake of men too and they cannot be left out in a day like this,” she said.
He went further to state that the global event has grown from strength to strength and has become an event which brings women and other stakeholders together to promote and advocate for more cohesive and coordinated interventions towards effectively addressing the critical needs of women in the social, political and economic processes.
Oley Dibba, a midwife nurse at Sinchu Alhajie said, “Cognizant of the prevalence of violence against women and girls, and its horrendous effects on their fundamental rights and freedoms, and physical and mental health, efforts to combat these should be addressed and emphasized on a day like this.”
For Mariama Kagbo, a lecturer said the following questions should be addressed on such a day:
1. What effective strategies should be adopted to promote and implement the rule of law against perpetrators of violence and all other forms of gender based violence?
2. How government should put an end to impunity and ensure accountability with regard to violence?
3. How the national financial policy should be expanded to include provisions for comprehensive support to victims of violence?
4. What are some examples of best practices whereby gender sensitive approaches have been used to include women and girls in the design and approaches that have been used to include women and girls in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of violence?
This day, according to Foday Malang, should make women proud, inspired, and envisioned. Women have made great strides in equality yet there is still a great deal to be achieved on many fronts. “IWD provides a unique and global opportunity to reignite, inspire and channel women’s equality for the future,” he added.
Meita Touray, reporter News & Report Magazine stressed that the symbol of women’s long struggle to achieve equality should not be reduced into a marketing gimmick.
“We need economic and social policies that support women’s empowerment. We need programmes and budgets that promote non-violence. We need a positive image of women in the media. We need laws that say violence is a crime, that hold perpetrators accountable and are enforced,” she implored.
According to the female pen pusher, this day highlights the growth and achievements of women in the developed and developing world. She added that events are held to honour women’s various advancements but at the same time, it serves as a reminder to all, of how much more needs to be done to improve and maintain women’s equality in all aspects of life and the need to continue being vigilant towards the same goal.
“This day also brings into focus the need to better all aspects of a woman’s life in society, be it economical, political or social,” she articulated.
For Lamin Njie, a university student: “It is only by acting together can we create more equal and peaceful societies.  Let us all, on this IWD, resolve to make a difference,” he said.
“Women and men should continue to work as hard as we can to ensure that girls and women are accorded the rights and opportunities they deserve. Global problems are too big and too complex to be solved without the full participation of women. Strengthening women’s rights is not only a continuing moral obligation--it is also a necessity as we face a global economic crisis,” he said
Momodou Dem, a reporter with the Foroyaa newspaper noted that issues that hinder women’s contributions should be the main issue to be addressed on a day like International Women’s Day as far as their rights are concerned.
 “The most pathetic thing“, he said “is seeing an old woman being arraigned before a court only for being a beggar on the streets.”
He added that the celebration does not only mean marching or raising banners with fluttering slogans in the air, but to also focus on the critical issues to chart a way forward.
Fatoumatta Ceesay, an accountant with The Daily News said most of the celebrations are held in the urban areas forgetting the rural women most of whom do not know the existence and the significance of the IWD in connection with their fundamental rights.
“Women gardeners among others should be given enough storage facilities to ease their work, in their efforts to earn dignified living,” she emphasized.

Moses Richards’ Lawyer Overruled Five Times

The trial magistrate in the criminal trial involving Moses Richards who is charged with false information and sedition has yesterday overruled five questions posed to Richards by his lawyer.
A former High Court Judge, Moses Richards is alleged to have brought contempt in the person of president Jammeh when he allegedly gave false information to the sheriff of High Court, but he pleaded not guilty.
“Did you mention in the last paragraph that the president ordered anything?” the doyen lawyer, Suraha Janneh asked Richards, but the prosecution objected the admissibility of the question and the magistrate concurred.
“And do you in your knowledge know if there is any difference between His Excellency, the President and the Office of the President?” lawyer Jammeh quizzed, but the Director of Special Litigation, Daniel Kulo objected to this question as well and the magistrate upheld the objection.
Kulo said the defense was leading the accused and it was an opinion, but lawyer Janneh argued that his knowledge and opinion is quite different.
The magistrate intervened and asked the defense:  “Can you give opinion without knowledge”.
The defense in response said, “This is not an academic exercise, but a criminal matter”.
The presiding magistrate also disallowed the accused to answer if he has any intent to bring into contempt of the President. He told the defense that the document is already admitted as evidence and should be left with the court to evaluate.
The defense lawyer however, stated that it is a charge which his client has to deny. He said his client is accused of mentioning that the President of the Republic ordered a stay of execution of a writ of possession in a civil suit.
And the state counsel also said there is no better denial than the accused person’s plea.
“I don’t mind if we are overruled, but in order to prove our case we had to give evidence”, Janneh countered.
Continuing his evidence, the accused said he never had contempt or hatred for the president.
He said he called Pa Colley, the alkalo of Jabang into his office to clarify whether the information was correct before he dispatched the letter to the Attorney General, Chief Justice, Minister of Lands and Director of NIA.
“I took briefs, because he informed me that if the execution was attempted there was going to be a calamity,” Moses said.
“Pa Colley then made a telephone call to a gentleman who introduced himself as the director of Physical Planning”.
He said the director assured him that what the Alkalo told him was the truth.
Moses said he wrote the letter under his client’s instruction and signed it as a firm solicitor.
He said the suit number indicates that the case started in 1992 which he never took part as a lawyer and was never aware of.
Richards said he was reliably informed by the alkalo that the case was between the Bojangs of Sukuta and the Colleys in Jabang.
The case continues today.

Former Social Security Boss Accused of Stealing D652, 250.00

Former managing director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), Mr. Edward Graham who is standing trial on two charges has been accused of stealing the sum of D652, 250.00.
Arraigned yesterday at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, Mr Graham denied the allegation.
The particulars of offence indicates that the accused some times in 2009 stole the sum of D652, 250.00 (six hundred and fifty-two thousand two hundred and fifty dalasi) being the property of Mr. Ruth Sowe.
Meanwhile, the accused was granted bail in the sum of D1Million after a legal wrangling between Graham’s lawyer Abdul Aziz Bensouda and the prosecuting police officer.
The prosecutor without waiting for the defense to apply for a bail told the court that he was objecting to the bail for the accused. He said the court should not grant Graham a bail because of the huge amount of money involved.
Abdul Aziz Bensouda who said he was just hearing the charge said the offense is bailable, adding that the amount of money involved is not significant. He said the accused was the Managing Director of SSHFC and has many properties.
He made reference to another case in which the accused is involved before the High Court, where he was granted bailed. He added that the prosecution has not given reasons why the accused should not be bailed.
 “There is no possibility of the accused absconding”, he said, stating that the offence is not punishable by death or life imprisonment”.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ports Authority Dismisses Reports

The Gambia Ports Authority no 2 has dismissed  reports that the ramp at the Banjul ferry terminal is not working. But he admitted that they sometimes use trucks to bring the ramp down when the ferry is about to anchor.
“If the ramp was not working then we could not get the Kanilai ferry running. All I know is that Barra and Johe developed problems which we are trying to sort out.”
Mr. Abdourahman Bah who was reacting to the reports that the ramp in Banjul is faulty said: “So why the noise over this thing. If Kanilai is working and people are crossing what is the problem then.”
According to him, the spare parts are not available in The Gambia and they had to order it from Europe by air.
Bah assured that the engineers and electricians are doing everything possible to meet the demand of their passengers by mending the two ferries whose parts have already been imported.
“Nature is nature”, he said, making reference to the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan.
Meanwhile, passengers at the Banjul terminal have expressed dissatisfaction with the ports authority as they wait for hours to cross to and from Barra.
A group of Gambia High School students found at the terminal disclosed that they were at the terminal since 9am in the morning when this reporter approached them at 12:30.
“We are going for an excursion and there is only one ferry plying,” one of the students lamented.
Other students who board the ferry from the north bank every day to come to school said they have no other option, but to use the small canoes which they said is very risky and costly. “We join the small canoes and pay 20 dalasi each, because we don’t want to be late for classes.”
According to one Yankuba Njie, a  canoe owner near the terminal said the breakdown of the two ferries have earned him a lot of income these days as passengers who cannot wait for the only ferry board his canoe.
“I arrived at the terminal at 10am and found that the Kanilai, the only ferry had already left. We have been here for three hours and the ferry is nowhere to be found.”
“Kanilai which used to be the fastest of all the ferries is very slow nowadays as it spends more than an hour in the sea,” he said.
Jojo Joof who spoke to this reporter immediately she disembarked from a canoe said she had to join the canoe as there was one ferry which she said takes more than one hour before it anchors.

Fired Judge’s Controversial Case Resumes Today

Sacked High Court Judge, who is now a private legal practitioner, is today expected to defend himself against the sedition and false information charges pressed against him by the state.
This development came as the state closed its case on Wednesday following the testimonies of two witnesses; Joseph Agbor Effim, the Sheriff of the High Court, and Ebrima Jatta, a drug enforcement officer.
Moses Richards is standing trial at Banjul Magistrates’ Court for allegedly falsely informing the Sheriff of The Gambia High Court that president Yahya Jammeh has ordered the stay of execution of the writ of possession in a particular civil suit.
When the trial resumed last Wednesday, the state witness no.2, in the person of Ebrima Jammeh, a National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) officer told the court he was instructed to invite the accused to their office regarding the saga.
The cautionary statement Mr Jammeh said to have obtained from Moses Richards was tendered as evidence in court by the director of Special Litigation, Deniel O Kula.
Meanwhile, Richards had made a name for himself as a no-non-sense and straight forward adjudicating officer throughout his time as a magistrate in various parts of the country and as the first judge of the newly created Special Criminal Division of High Court, designed to ‘exclusively preside over capital offences.’
He was dismissed in April last year for unexplained reasons following which he started practicing as a private legal practitioner.   
His ‘unwarranted arrest’ on December 30, and prosecution has triggered controversy in the judiciary. Even the unspeaking Gambian bar is forced to speak-out and mounted a seemingly unproductive three-day sit-down strike demanding their colleague to be freed.  
“Legal practitioners in The Gambia, as is the case worldwide, are privileged and protected when acting in their professional capacity on behalf of their clients, for the obvious reason that it is in the public interest that Legal Practitioners are able to represent their clients properly, and discharge their duties without fear of being arrested and prosecuted for doing so,” Mr Sheriff Tambedou, president of Gambian bar had said.

DPP to Produce Original Case Files of Soriba Condeh

The Deputy Director Public Prosecution (DPP) has been ordered to produce the original case files of Soriba Condeh, pw1 despite his squabble that they do not have the said documents to be tendered by the defense in the trial of Ensa Badjie and Ali Ceesay charged for corruption and drug related charges.
 The Judge accepted paragraph 1 of the defense but rejected paragraphs 2 and 3 of the file notice application for the state to produce the original copies.
The Ex-IGP and ASP Ali Ceesay are facing multiple criminal charges ranging from robbery, aiding prisoners, abuse of office, drug related charges among others at the Special Criminal Court before Justice Ikapala.
Allegations they strongly denied.
The DPP earlier told the court that the defense laid no sufficient particulars in the file application. He said he did not know the station the files are and that there are a lot of Soriba Condeh’s in the country.  “This is fake. We don’t have the documents”, he said while urging the court to strike out the notice application.
The defense in reacting to the prosecution’s objection said the prosecution had led evidence in court with testimony of Soriba Condeh, Fatou Mendy and Tony who all admitted that Soriba was arrested, released on bail and the case file was sent to the Serrekunda Police station.
“Paragraph 1 is making reference to the case files”, he said, adding that nothing can be more of reference than the police dairy.  “This is the highest degree of exact truth that the defense can apply for”.
He said the prosecution should produce the original files and if they don’t the defense will tender theirs as evidence.
“The DPP should not be disturbed if he cannot lay hands on the originals,” the defense said, “because we have the photocopies”
The case is adjourned to march 21st for continuation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

ACHPR Commission Condemns the Use of Force in Libya

Musa Ngary Bittaye, commissioner at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights has condemned the use of force by Libyan authorities against the anti-government protesters.
Bittaye who is also a legal practitioner made these remarks to this reporter at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court shortly after the trial of the ex- High Court Judge, Moses Richard.
The ACHPR, he said has expressed a grave concern over the situation in some North African countries recently at their 9th extra ordinary session held in Banjul.
According to him, all organs of the AU are monitoring the situation very closely in terms of protecting the human rights of its citizen and right to peaceful protest.
“We very much regret the use of force on any peaceful demonstration of any of state parties of the African Union,” he said.
“Peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and access to information are all rights of freedom that are guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of which all state signatories to charter should meet their obligation under the charter,” Bittaye added.
Mr. Bittaye however, declined to comment when asked to elaborate on the current situation of human rights in The Gambia.
 He said he can only comment on the countries he is in charge of which are: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mauritius and Zimbabawe.
 “The basic principle as a commissioner, you don’t make comments about your country. A fellow commissioner is responsible for the Gambia. I am not allowed to say anything about The Gambia, because of what is call incompatibility,” he explained.
Commissioner Bittaye stressed that the fundamental rights of citizens, rule of law are crucial fundamental pillars in which democracy and progress is built by the state parties that subscribe to protection of fundamental rights and freedom of its citizens.
“The mandate that the AU gave the Africa Charter is promotion and the protection of its citizens and that has to be respected,” he said.
He said the charter has now got its own court decision.

“Authorities prove that I was innocent”

The former police chief, Ensa Badjie has told the court that the authorities proved that he was innocent after a report was issued to them in 2007 when Soriba Condeh initially tried to implicate him.
"The allegations against me was investigated by the NIA and the Major and serious Crime Unit but reports show that I was innocent" Ensa said
The ex-Inspector General of Police and CSP Ali Ceesay are facing 15 counts ranging from robbery, aiding prisoners, abuse of office, drugs and related charges. They denied the charges.
Making the revelation before justice Ikapala of the Special Criminal Division the High Court in Banjul, Ensa told the court that Benedict Jammeh never revealed to the cx-CDS Lang Tombong Tamba for him to be arrested.
"Pw1 said in court that Benedict Jammeh warranted for your arrest but ex-CDS said you should not be arrested" his lawyer inquired.
"That is a lie" Ensa said "pw1 is only annoyed with me because I arrested him and he was prosecuted"
Badjie further revealed to the court that he has never told Soriba and his team to plead guilty neither has he anything to do with their escape.
He added that pw1 lied in court when he said he (Ensa) will provide a lawyer for them in 2007.
Ensa posited that he has never purchased cutter or any other items as pw1 alleged in his testimony for numerous breaking they committed in the Greater Banjul Area.
"I never gave them cutter or any other tool for criminal operations or to break into any supermarket," he said
"pw1 said you arrested him with a bundle of cannabis weighing five kilos" his lawyer inquired further, but Ensa vehemently denied it adding that he has on no account planned with pw1 to confiscate cannabis seized by state for his personal interest
The former police chief also denied buying alcohol for pw1 or running any bar with Tony (pw5) "It is against my religion" he said
Badjie refuted assigning pw1 to break into a bank and also facilitating a taxi for the save.
He added that he never told Soriba to abscond when Ebrima Suma was arrested.
He also denied asking Dodou Janneh (pw9) to his to help him count D300, 000 in his office adding that Dodou was only a volunteer "I am more educated than Dodou so why would I invite him to help me count" Ensa said.
"All I know" he said," is that he committed murder and I arrested him and he was prosecution and sentenced to death" Badjie said.
When asked by counsel if anything had transpired between him, 2nd accused and pw1, Ensa said one day while in mile 2 "when pw1 return from the NIA to the prison he met me at the verandah around no 7 ward and there he told me that Pa Harry Jammeh and Director General of NIA Numo Kujabi…"
Before he could finish the statement the Director of Public Prosecution objected to the statement. He said that portion was never mentioned by pw1 in court.
The defense in reaction said the objection was misconceived. He said pw1 is a witness who has testified before the court adding that the witness is narrating what the pw1 told him.
He added that he is laying a foundation in connection with the allegation levelled against the 2nd accused person while urging the court to overrule the DPP objection.
The judge in his ruling rejected the evidence of Ensa Badjie. He said he did not at anytime heard the prosecution witnesses mentioned Pa Harry Jammeh and DG NIA.

Imam Affirms Efry Mbye, Rongo’s Smear Campaign

Banjulinding Central Mosque Imam Monday affirmed Efry Mbye and Momodou Jarjue alias Rongo’s smear campaign against alkalo Eric Tundeh Janneh of Banjulunding.
Both Efry Mbye, a praise singer, and Rongo, a musician are renowned artists, who have been identified as staunch supporters of the ruling APRC regime.
Fresh charges pressed against them revealed that they gave false information to a public officer, made and uttered false documents and conducted in a manner conducive to the breach of the peace – a total of four counts.
In detail, Efry and Rongo, in 2010 lied to the local government ministry and Office of the President that alkalo Eric Tundeh Janneh is disuniting the people and grabbing the lands.
They have also claimed to be council of elders of Banjulinding, falsely uttered petition letters to the Office of the President and Pa Malick Faye, managing director of Observer Company and conducted meetings with the people of Banjulinding in a manner likely to cause the breach of the peace. Both pleaded not guilty.
However, Imam Yahya Bah, who testified on Monday before Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe in Banjul, said the letter written by accused persons triggered dispute in the village.
Imam Bah said it was indicated in the said letter that the Alkalo Janneh does not treat the villagers equally as a result of which the alkalo and some village elders were invited for talks at the Office of the President.
After the meeting, he explained, alkalo convened a meeting with the elders of the village to inform them about the meeting at the Office of the President.
But Malang Badjie, a villager and others wrote to the secretary general, Office of the President pretending to be the council of elders and youth committee of the village, condemning the alkaloship of Eric Tunde Janneh.
According to him, both the village elders and accused persons were invited for discussions at National Drug Enforcement Agency office where both parties agreed to resolve the problem among them. 
The case resumes March 16.

Female Lawyer’s Association the Gambia, Statement on International Women’s Day 2011.

Every year, the 8th of March is dedicated to the celebration of women’s successes, achievements, and accomplishments in all aspects of human development. This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The day was commemorated for the first time on 19 March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, following its establishment during the Socialist International meeting the preceding year. More than one million women and men attended rallies on that first commemoration.
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world’s women? In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. For the women of the world, the Day’s symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change. International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.
Few causes promoted by the United Nations have generated more intense and widespread support than the campaign to promote and protect the equal rights of women. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. Since then, the Organization has helped create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
The United Nations identifies a global theme every year, and this year, the UN theme is “EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION, TRAINING AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: PATHWAY TO DECENT WORK FOR WOMEN”.
The Constitution of The republic of the Gambia 1997, guarantees the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities for all persons. To that effect, it provides that basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all. It also provides that secondary education shall be generally accessible to all and higher education accessible to all based on capacity, with a view to progressively realise free education for all at all levels.
In addition Section 26 of the Women’s Act 2010 specifically guarantees to women the right to basic education and training for self development. Subsection (2) in particular imposes specific obligation on Government in pursuance of the right guaranteed in subsection (1) as follows;
“(2) Pursuant to subsection (1), the Government shall take all appropriate measures to-
(a)   eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and guarantee equal opportunity and access in the sphere of education and training;
(b) eliminate all stereotypes in textbooks, syllabuses and the media, that perpetuate such discrimination;
(c)   protect women,  especially  the  girl-child from all forms of abuse, including sexual harassment in schools and other educational institutions and provide for sanctions against the perpetrators of such practices;
(d)   provide access to counselling and rehabilitation services to women who suffer abuses and sexual harassment;
(e)  integrate gender sensitisation and human rights education at all levels of education curricula, including teacher training;
(f)     promote literacy among women;
(g)   promote education and training for women at all levels and in all disciplines, particularly in the fields of science and technology; and
(h)   promote the  enrolment  and retention of girl-children in schools and other training institutions and the organisation of programmes for women who leave school prematurely.
It would seem that there is indeed an adequate legal framework in The Gambia to address the concerns raised in the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. The Women’s Act as highlighted earlier imposes an obligation on government to promote education and training for women at all levels and in all discipline, particularly in the field of science and technology. These laws recognise the fact that education and training are essential preconditions and key to emancipation of women. With the relevant skills and know how, including scientific skills, women will be better prepared to face the challenges of the modern world, and thus contribute to nation building on an equal footing with men. The world today is confronted with multi faceted and complex crisis, ranging from economic, environment, security and national disasters, and men and women should be adequately prepared and trained to meet the challenges posed by such crisis. Government must however note that the educational obligations in the relevant sections of the Women’s Act are legally enforceable, and that compliance is mandatory.
In a dramatic and ground-breaking decision, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja has declared that all Nigerians are entitled to education as a legal and human right.
The Court ruled that the right to education can be enforced before the Court and it dismissed all objections brought by the Federal Government (FG), through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), that education is “a mere directive policy of the government and not a legal entitlement of the citizens.”
The ECOWAS Court’s decision, made public on 19 November 2009, followed a suit instituted by the Registered Trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Federal Government and UBEC, alleging the violation of the right to quality education, the right to dignity, the right of peoples to their wealth and natural resources and to economic and social development guaranteed by Articles 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples ‘ Rights. This was the first time an international court had recognised citizens’ legal right to education, and sends a clear message to ECOWAS member states, that the denial of this human right to millions of African citizens will not be tolerated.  
Here in The Gambia, the realities on the ground are a far cry from the aspirations of the Constitution and the Women’s Act. Even though the Constitution provides that basic education is compulsory, it is obvious that this provision is not being enforced in The Gambia. Even though the education statistics indicates an increase in enrolment ratio, there are still pockets of communities, in both the urban and rural areas, where children, especially the girl-children, are denied access to any form of education. The retention of girls at the upper basic, senior secondary and tertiary levels still remains a challenge due to a number of factors including early and forced marriages, teenage pregnancy, poverty, and preference for continued education of boys at the higher level. The theme for this year’s celebration should therefore pose a challenge for us to go beyond the rhetoric of the law and ensure actual implementation of the obligations enshrined in the Constitution and other relevant laws. Laws cannot serve any useful purpose unless they are effectively implemented.
International Women’s day is indeed both a day to celebrate and a day to draw attention to the challenges that remain before gender equality is truly attained.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You don’t know anything about the rule of law- Lawyer Janneh

A doyen of the Gambian bar, Surahata Janneh on Monday put it to the Sherriff of the High Court “You don’t know anything about the rule of law” during cross- examination in the trial of Moses Richards.
Joseph Agbor Effim, the Sheriff at the High Court in Banjul, who  is the state’s no 1 witness in the sedition case of Moses Richards however told the court that he is not an expert in the rule of law but knows something about the rule of law before Magistrate Alagba of the Banjul Magistrate Court.
Richards, a former High Court Judge – now private lawyer -is facing two criminal charges – giving false information and sedition – at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
He is alleged to have lied to the Sheriff of The Gambia that president of the republic ordered a stay of execution of a writ of possession in a civil suit; thus gave false information to a public servant and brought contempt into the person of the president of the republic
Richards however denied any wrong-doing
Mr Janneh also put it to the witness that nobody is above the law and the accused was not referring to president but the Office of the President in executing his client’s instructions but the witness however maintained that was how he comprehended it.
Janneh challenged that the accused person has never given any false information to anybody and that he was only doing what was expected of him as a legal practitioner by implementing his client’s instructions.
The witness said he copied the document to the Chief Justice as the Sherriff of the High court and a head of the judiciary system and not under the supervision of the Chief Justice.
He further said that the former Chief Justice stopped the bailiff from executing the judgment when the defense asked him what stopped them from executing the judgment since 2007.
The witness further accused Lawyer Ousainou Darboe by saying: “When I was summoned by the Chief Justice in his office, I found lawyer Ousainou Darboe claiming that I refused to execute his client’s judgment because they are an opposition party.”
Trial continues March 7

Justice Wowo Orders Treason Appellant to Respond on Point of Law

Chair of the three member panel of judges has told the defense for the seven death row inmates to reply on point of law, after receipt of the state respondent’s brief in the appeal of Lang Tombong Tamba and six others.
Justice Wowo also urged both parties to provide the court with authorities cited by them in their respective briefs.
Lang Tombong Tamba and Co have appealed  against the death sentence slapped on them by High Court Judge, Emmanuel Amadi in July 2010, after being found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government of the Gambia in 2009.
The appeal could not however advance when the case resumed on Monday as the defense solicited  an adjournment to enable him reply on point of law before the March 7.
The respondent, Daniel .O Kolu did not object to this, but informed the court that the state has already filed their briefs since 7 and 21 February 2010.
The case is expected to resume March 8th for adoption of briefs.
The rest of the appellants are Ex-Deputy of Chief of Defense Staff Omar Bun Mbaye, Ex-NIA Boss, Lamin BO Badjie, Ex-top military officer Lt Col. Kawsu Camara, Ex-deputy Police Chief, Modou Gaye, a business tycoon, Abdoulie Joof and a former Gambian diplomat, Gibril Ngorr Secka.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Women and Society

For the reason that men and women have different physiques, personalities, and lifestyle, also play different roles in society. These form the basis of relationships between men and women in the community, and between husband and wife in the family. The natural result of building relationships, upon Islamic or Christian justice is that these roles are complimentary; each with its own rights and responsibility.
Areas of activity for both men and women are defined reflecting their complementary natures and roles. These are not arbitrary divisions, and do not overload either men or women, but are what reason and commonsense dictates. It is, therefore, unjust to make women assume men’s roles without some personal or communal reason; doing so is a violation of women’s rights and an affront to their dignity and femininity.
 The two religions forbid favoritism against women if it undermines their rights, or wounds their dignity. Its tactic is impartial; the only bias towards men is in the minds of those who have been seduced by secularism.
The societies that have digressed in the first direction treat women according to the customs and traditions inherited. These traditions usually deprive women of many rights granted to them by Islam or any other religion. Besides, women are treated according to standards far different from those applied to men.
This discrimination pervades the life of any female. She is under continuous surveillance in order not to behave immodestly. She has very little say in family affairs or community interests; she might not have full control over her property and her marriage gift and finally as a mother she herself would prefer to produce boys so that she can attain higher status in her community.
Women and Education
For women to understand and appreciate their central role in society they need to be educated. There are two aspects; one is what is compulsory for individuals and the other is to meet needs of society. The first is concerned with knowing the obligations and the duties. The second is concerned with all the practicalities of worldly life, such as agriculture, medicine, and technology. This applies to both men and women.
Obtaining education is an obligation for all, female and male, but the nature and form it takes depends on individual roles and responsibilities. Any learning to meet the needs of society, for personal pleasure or gain, or even to increase knowledge, must not be at the expense of individual obligations.
This ideology creates gender stereotypes, which are institutionalized through structural mechanisms in place in society.  This could be through educational and religious institutions, customary beliefs and practices, the legal and power structures. 
The formation of these attitudes is a result of the ways in which we are taught to conceptualize matters of the societies through the socialization process, including the family.
Women and Marriage
The shari’ah has guarantees woman’s right to marriage, her rights and expectations within the marriage, her rights as a mother, and her rights to a home of her own, to be queen of her own domain, a place where she has the right to fulfill her likely duties.
Being married is highly valued as it taught that the woman requires the man to take her to heaven. In such circumstances, the woman feels obligated to remain in a relationship even if her rights are being violated.
Most societies view women as being subordinate to men, which makes women feel morally bound to remain in relationships regardless of the dangers.
Many men and women believe that there is a just cause for violence. Actually, in some societies, women believe that being beaten by a man is a sign of love not knowing that family violence will always have a devastating effect on the lives of children, since it is an experience of brutal isolation for them.
Any roles or practice of society that determines a woman’s chance of marriage, violates her rights and is is unjust.
Limits apply to both men and women, but within these limits, a woman has a right to choose her own husband.
It also gives women the right to leave or divorce her husband if the marriage does not work out.
Many people appear not to know this, but it is confirmed in many authentic (hadith) tradition of Prophet Muhammed, and as this example shows us, when misunderstandings or conflicts arise, we should seek a solution in the original source (those who played in the tying of the knot of marriage).
Equality and Justice
Islam acknowledges equality between men and women as human beings. This equality covers everything connected with humanity and personal dignity and extends to all general issues and legislation related to life and religion. The destiny of the country rests on both the males and females of that particular society.
Islam only makes a distinction between the rights and responsibilities of men and women to reflect intrinsic differences in their natures, doing so helps each perform their chosen roles and achieve their aspirations. Equality between men and women as human beings and in all general issues is natural and makes perfect sense. It treats women and men according to their natures and treats them completely equal.

The Pinch of Escalating Commodity Prices on Women

A follow-up to “Women Lament Daily Commodities Price Hike” in our local markets, the latest survey conducted by Musoolula Bantabaa reveals that the increase in the prices of daily commodities is affecting the women.  

Musoolula Bantabaa (women’s forum) who owes to decrying women, the most affected in situation of price hike of daily commodities, went round to talk to some women as well as men at this worrying moment to make their voices heard.
The current situation in our local markets is really hampering food security and poses a big threat in our pursuit to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) goal 1, which is to reduce hunger by half by 2015.
Binta Nyang, a fish vendor at Latrikuinda market expressed her desperation over the slow pace of business. She said most of the time her fish got spoiled, because customers cannot afford to buy.  
“I am incurring huge losses as a result of the high cost of fish,” she decried. “Men at the sea tend to make it so difficult for us. They also said fuel is expensive and as they too are bread winners of their families need to survive from their work.”
As one of the most nutritious food, fish has become very pricey. Bonga which is less classy in our local markets is what many underprivileged families cook on daily basis. Ladyfish for instance, the smallest one is not less than D75. There are others that cost D150 for one.
Less privileged women, like Mariama Ceesay whom I found arguing with a fish vendor at the market, are likely to suffer the consequence more than any other.
She said only few women can afford to buy big white fish like barracuda and cat fish. Majority of them buy bonga.
“If one bonga fish is costing D5 what else can I buy from the fish money which is only D50,” she complained. “I am living with my husband and 5 children. If I buy four fish the change left will not suffice to buy other ingredients that should go with the soup or stew.”
 According to her, every individual should eat a balance diet at the end of the day, but due to prices of basic commodities in the markets they eat whatever they can afford.
Sohna Jambang who uses the little income she gets from her business to pay her children’s school fees said her customers are avoiding her. She stressed that they are not the cause of the increase in the prices of commodities
“Our customers often blame us, thinking that we intentionally increase prices. We, too feel the pain as a woman, but the amount we spend to purchase goods is very expensive.”
Things are becoming worse by day. Everything is expensive, especially oil and onion, which are the main ingredients we use in our cooking.”
Sugar which 95% of our households use in preparing breakfast and evening meals has become unaffordable. A bag of sugar now costs D1,380, compared to D750 in 2009. A cup of sugar is D8.00.
Vegetable cooking oil and palm oil also continued to rise rapidly.
 “If drastic and strategic measures are not put in place”, said Mumut Kagbo, “the poor and the vulnerable like me will suffer the most”.
Mumut lamented that she is forced to groundnut paste soup because the price of oil is unacceptably increasing. “I cook soup four times a week as a cup of oil now cost D12.00 and palm oil D14.00,” she said.

Lamin Njie, a vendor selling oil, onions, Irish potato among others, said he gives women (jendenjaye) goods to sell in the market on credit. However, he said they stop coming because they complained that the profit they realise is very little, in some case, nothing at all.
As a bred winner,  who provides daily meals, I understand how these women suffer in pleasing us (husband) by putting delicious food on the table”.
A woman who was sitting next to him said she used to do the same thing, but had to stop it. She said she is now selling vegetables that she harvested in her garden.
Fatou lamented that she used to buy 20litre of palm oil at the price of D1,400 and sells a cup for D13.00.
“I had to stop it because after selling it for almost a month, I got only D100 profit. It was hard to meet family needs with such an amount as a mother”, she told Women’s Bantabaa
20 litres of vegetable cooking oil has increased from D600 to D950. Onion pushed from D250 to D300. A bag of Irish potato which used to cost D300 has increased to D550. A bag of rice has also increased variably, depending on the quality. For example, Sadam rice is costing D1,250.
“I used to clash with my wife whenever she asked me to add some money to the fish money I gave her”, said Saloum Bangura. “But I now know what she has been enduring when she comes to the market. Men with the spending power should reconsider the money they give to their wives to reduce the burden on them”.
The meat vendors raised concern as business continues slow down. A kilogram of steak is costing D100, while steak with bone costs D80.
For Sheikh Njie, a Senegalese vendor, the price of meat has compelled his customers to stop buying meat from him. He said he used to sell all the meat before midday when the kilogram was at pegged D60.
“But nowadays, I spend the whole day waiting for customers,” he said. “Sometimes we keep calling on them to come and buy, but without much success.”
A breakfast seller at the same market, selling sandwich and steak told the Women’s Bantabaa that she has now adjusted bread and steak from D25 to D35 due to the increase in price of meat.
Neneh Njie added that she had stop selling steak. She is now selling bread and beans, scotch eggs and rice and beans.
According to her, most of her customers are persuading her to start selling steak but she is afraid it might ruin her business.
Fatou Mendy, a vegetable vendor said she has to struggle from Lamin village to Latrikunda market to sell bitter tomato, cassava leaves and big pepper to support her six children who she said are all young.
“I always buy the food stuff we need for launch for the family only after selling the goods I sell as the money my husband gives is not always enough,” she disclosed.
“I had to supplement it to be able to buy enough to eat. Sometimes if the business does not go well, I sell my goods at very cheap prices inorder to be able to provide food on the table for my family.”

Women in Africa own less than 5% of titled land

Studies reveal that 90 percent of food grown in Africa is grown by small scale farmers. And Africa�s scale farmers, studies reveal further, produce about half of world food�s supply. Majority of these small scale farmers, according to the same studies, are women. Yet our women in Africa own less than 5% of land. This is very disappointing.
And it is attributed to male dominated traditional institutions vested with the customary rights to manage communal lands. This perturbed women�s rights to access, use and control of agricultural land as a productive resource. 
Sustainable agriculture, rural development and food security cannot be achieved if our policies continue to ignore or exclude more than half of our population, the women. Thus, food security issues should be contextualized within a gender framework taking into account the differential burden borne by women in our socio-economic development. 
�Recognize, promote, facilitate, protect and enforces the rights, needs, roles, participation, accrual of benefits and decision-making of women,� Mr Buba Khan of Action Aid The Gambia has emphasized.  
The coordinator of Right to Food-Africa and a CAADP Focal Point, Mr. Buba Khan was presenting a topic on the role of women in small holder farmers on Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP) process. CAADP is a regional document that aspires to exploit and expand upon recent growth in agriculture inorder to help African countries achieved food security. It requires member countries to allocate 10 percent of their annual national budget to agriculture. The Gambia, though a member, nonetheless, is yet to meet this requirement. 
Meanwhile, women�s relative unequal responsibility in household chores and caring for family members is done alongside their work as smallholder farmers. So, development policies and strategies will be equitable, when the different needs, constraints, opportunities and priorities of men and women are considered. 
According to Mr Khan, women in Africa contribute 70% of food production which  accounts for nearly half of all farm labour, and 80�90% of food processing, storage and transport, hoeing and weeding
In this regard, he was not equivocal in emphasizing that womens access and ownership of productive assets such as land, is directly tied to their independence as freedom, he noted, begins with economic independence. 
According to him, policy and legal frameworks should guarantee women's access and control of assets especially land and also the reduction of unequal burden of care on women. The voices of women, the level and quality of participation by women in the CAADP process have yet to reach a desired level,� he said
He maintained that there is a wide gap in implementing CAADP because neither governments nor donors are spending enough on agriculture especially food production adding that Agriculture budgets fail to focus on the people who do most of the work�smallholder women farmers. 
�The things that would help poor farmers and women the most  such as rural credit and agricultural research focused on smallholders are the most under-resourced, he said.
Khan stressed that African Ministries of Agriculture are ill-equipped to spend existing resources effectively and donors are using resources poorly by failing to uphold the aid effectiveness commitments of the Paris Declaration of 2005.
Women�s independent right to access and control land is central to the goal of poverty eradication, meeting of basic livelihood needs and empowerment.
Khan added that the use of adequate agricultural inputs for women is one of the practically available ways for most farmers to increase agricultural productivity and ensure food security 
He believed that effective, efficient and non-discriminatory extension advice and training should be available to women farmers. Access to available markets, reliable market information, and competitive prices are necessary ingredients for a vibrant production system, leading to women�s greater economic empowerment 

Justice is Sweetest when Freshest, Says VP Njie-Saidy

Justice is sweetest when freshest and that justice delayed is not only justice denial but a violation of the rule of law, The Gambia�s vice president and minister for Women�s Affairs has said. 
Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy made these remarks on Thursday while presiding over the launch of the Revised Laws of The Gambia 2009. Law revision was last done in The Gambia in 1990. 
She said the printing of the law is capital intensive and therefore urged all stakeholders to collaborate with government in order to ensure that laws are regularly updated and accessible.
�The Government of The Gambia is equally aware of the fact that access to justice does not end with construction of new court buildings�, she added. �Laws are not exclusively preserved for members of the legal profession but every individual. Laws permeate every stratum of the fabric of society and as part of society itself, it reflect the political, social, economic and cultural realities and aspiration of people�.
She expressed dissatisfactory with the amendments scattered in a plethora of gazette publication which were out of print. �It was indeed an unsatisfactory state of our printed laws which needed to be addressed for which I never lost sight of since the poor state of our printed laws was brought to my attention�, she said. 
The Gambia�s no. 2 expressed concerned over the Women�s Act 2010, which await incorporation into the 2009 Revised Edition. 
For the Attorney General and minister of Justice, Edward Gomez, law revision seeks to improve access to justice, democracy and the rule of law for positive changes in the legal system.
�Transparency and accountability can be obtained only when legislation is made promptly accessible to citizens in a way that matches best their different information need�, he said
 Emmanuel Agim, the Chief Justice of the Gambia, called on the relevant authorities to compile the unwritten laws. 
�The unwritten nature of customary law renders it fluid, inaccessible and difficult to ascertain,� he said, noting that the rule is soundly defeated by the lack of written records of decisions on existence of such rule.
Dr Henry Carrol, Chairman Law Reform Commission said law revision reflects the current status quo of an independent sovereign state. Society he said is dynamic, thus it is mandatory 
mandatory to revised law reflecting the noble ideals and aspirations in efficient justice delivery. 
�It is of no legal use to continue having old obsolete laws on our statue book�, he said
He however told the gathering that the copies will be available for D25, 000. This price will be increased to D31, 000 end February 2011. 
The President of Gambia Bar Association Sherriff Tambedou said the idea of law revised was supported by the all the legal practitioners which he said make their work easier. 
 Other dignitaries present at the launching include the former President, Sir Dawda, ministers, foreign diplomats, among others.

Ex-Police Chief Weeps in Court Again

“You are an officer, put yourself together,” the presiding judge yesterday found himself pleading with the embattled ex-police chief Ensa Badjie, who broke into tears again in court.
There was an air of compassion in the packed courtroom as the audience looked on their sacked hardliner police chief, who was declared ‘best’ Police IG by President Jammeh, raining tears. 
Some exclaimed: ‘ndeyesan!’, (wollof) an exclamation of sympathy while one old-man strolled behind him calming him with these words: “stop crying … everything will be over”.      
Sacked last year after allegedly implicating President Jammeh in illegal drugs business, Ensa Badjie is facing multiple charges of armed robbery, aiding prisoners to escape, drugs and related charges, alongside Ali Ceesay, a prison officer. 
Ensa Badjie was as well, alleged to be the leader of a robbery gang and masterminded series of armed robberies. But he denied any wrong-doing. 
Quite a lot of witnesses, including his alleged gang members and his former police friend made overwhelming revelations, linking him to the charges, but Ensa Badjie insisted that all allegations against him are untrue.  
Mr Badjie who could not put himself together even after the Judge asked him to be strong, has again accused Serrekunda Police boss, Landing Bojang, state no.10 witness of forcing Soriba Condeh, the leader of the robbery gang and Amadou Jallow to implicate him in the crime.
He said he found the two suspects in Landing Bojang’s office and protested that Landing should not bring suspects in his office without the notice of Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“I then left for prayers and upon my return, Soriba Condeh and Amadou told me that Landing took them to his office because he wanted them to implicate me”, he explained.
He said Landing Bojang promised to release Soriba and Amadou if they testified against him.
The former police boss said he quickly telephoned the then IGP Ousman Sonko (now interior minister), Police Division Commissioner, Ousman Jibba, the Crime Management Coordinator Mamud Jobe and ex-deputy Inspector of Police Modou Gaye to come to Serrekunda police in order to hear from Soriba and Amadou themselves.
He said Omar Jibba was the first to come and Soriba repeated the same thing to him.
“Ousman Jibba made a phone call in the presence of Omar and told me to forget everything because if I forwarded this report out of police umbrella and the president happens to know about it, it will be very detrimental to Landing”, he revealed
Ensa added that Omar also appealed to him not to forward the matter to any other department.
“After the departure of Omar”, he said, “Mamud came to the office and asked the suspects if I was one of them but they replied in the negative. They instead told him that Landing just asked them to indict me and one senior officer whose name they never revealed”.
He said the statements were obtained from them as evidence. “I have photocopied all those statements and kept them for a day like this, because I know people and what they are capable of doing.”
Ensa told the court that none of the witnesses mentioned his name in their statements that he conspired with them to do their criminal conducts. He added that he never called pw11 when he arrested Soriba Condeh because he did not knew Soriba at that time as alleged pw11 in court.
He also denied telling Fatou Mendy (pw7) and Tony (pw8) to bail Soriba Condeh when he was arrested. “It’s just a malice against me”, he said
He said he requested the Director General of the state owned television to the come to the station where Soriba Condeh and the rest of suspects were recorded. “I did all this to put criminal acts to an end”
“Myself and the then IGP were invited again on GRTS in which I gave details about the breaking that was happening in Serrekunda”
He said pw1 led them to a supermarket that belongs to a Nigerian national who was a Magistrate in The Gambia and then worked with Trust Bank but he denied that there was breaking as claimed by some of the witnesses.
Ensa further disclosed that he ordered some officers to recover the taxi Soriba used after he confessed that he used a taxi to do his operations.  “I packed the taxi at the Serrekunda police station and up till now it is there,” he said
He said when he learnt that Soriba Condeh used another name at the Bakoteh police station when he was arrested, he ordered Abdoulie Sowe, (pw11) to bring the case file of Ebrima Camara and the motor bicycle Soriba had stolen.
He added that he also has the document of investigations in the case of Soriba Condeh.
The case is expected to resume March 3.