The Chronicle Gambia

Civil Society Coalition Frowns at President Barrow’s Silence Over Corruption Report

The Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia said it was “saddened and extremely alarmed at the loud silence” from President Adama Barrow and his government over the findings of a corruption investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Last week, OCCRP, a global network of investigative journalists published a major report detailing how ex-president Yahya Jammeh and his associates had looted at least $975m from state-owned enterprises, public finances, pensioners’ monies and donor aid. The startling revelations were based primarily on thousands of leaked documents.

The OCCRP report named several officials as Jammeh’s accomplices.

Culled from The Great Gambia Heist

In an open letter to President Barrow, the R2K Coalition-Gambia, an organization of multiple civil society groups, drew his attention to the report “detailing the shocking and unacceptable conspiracies by ex-president Jammeh and his accomplices, some of whom are still in your administration, to extort the country and loot its meagre resources.”

“These acts of criminality, which spanned two decades, have resulted in the country losing one billion dollars to the rampant, unbridled and attendant corruption under ex-president Jammeh.”

In the letter, the group reminded the president that “the acts were so audacious that to ignore them would not only be seen to be irresponsible, morally reprehensible and complicit, but possibly illegal.” According to the group, the least the government should do is to react to the report.

“Your administration has publicly called for information on any acts of illegality and corruption to be ventilated, whether through the process of the established Janneh Commission and or, in other fora including the media and other public spaces. This report has responded to those requests made by your administration in the most deliberate and thorough manner,” the letter said. “We are however saddened and extremely alarmed at the loud silence from your good self and the government you lead over these startling revelations.”

The group also expressed disappointment that despite the evidence presented in the OCCRP report, and by extension the Janneh Commission (set up to probe financial dealingsof Jammeh and his allies), “whereby individuals admitted to taking part in looting of state coffers and enterprises; individuals who admitted to committing crimes of theft and conspiring to commit acts of corruption, are not only left to shamelessly gloat with impunity over their escapades, but are still under the employs of your government; and some have been elevated to higher public office.”

Veteran lawyer Surahata Janneh (middle) with other commissioners of the Janneh Commission

R2K Coalition-Gambia urged the president to show political will and act on the report. It called on him to at least suspend those that were at the helm of the implicated entities when the corrupt practices took place and commence investigations as a matter of urgency. “Anything short of decisive action will undermine your credibility, weaken your administration, and blemish any legacy that follows you during and beyond your presidency,” the group warned.

President Barrow has been criticized for appointing former Jammeh ‘enablers’ in key positions, including ministerial. In the recently-concluded Janneh Commission, some of these officials gave testimonies of how they helped Jammeh to embezzle and mismanage state resources.

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