By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Following numerous attempts to scout for a new Justice Minister, the government has finally identified one. Principal magistrate Kebba Sanyang has been named as Gambia’s new Justice Minister. He replaces the sacked Attorney General Sheik Tijan Hydara. Mr. Sayang who was called to the Gambian Bar few years ago, was the mastermind for the sacking of disgraced magistrate King, who he accused of “abuse of office” and official corruption. Sayang revelations compels the government to set up an inquiry to investigate King, who later resettled into the United States. King, a Sierra Leonean by birth also possesses dual citizenship. He’s a Gambian as well. He denied the charges brought against him even though he fails to show up in the Gambia to defend the damaging accusations brought against him.
The new Justice Minister was my former news client at the Point Newspaper. I remember vividly when he came to our offices accusing King of corruption. At the material time, the late Deyda Hydara was present when the interview was being conducted in our editors office. Sayang claimed that King was diverting court fines into his personal use. That King used conspired with local court staff to dupe the state. For example, he said King would fined accused persons only to state in his judgment that such accused persons were acquitted and discharged. Monies realized from such judicial scam, he said used to go into King’s pockets. From my own observations, Sanyang was eager to send his messages across so that he can attract the attention of the big man Jammeh. We respect him for his stance to expose graft at the judicial level. Even though, his accuser was not present to dispute his claims, we were very professional, in the way and manner we handled the story. As reporters, we try to give voice to all shades of society without censorship. And that exactly what we did on Sanyang’s case. In order to demonstrate our independence, we refused to be manipulated to write in his favor. We reported the story as it unfolds. Unfortunately, Magistrate King was not available at the material time to respond to his wild accusations. Our piece prompted the chief justice to set up an inquiry into what many called at the time”the King” scandal. The late Deyda Hydara was very impressed by Sanyang’s move to expose graft in his own house. Over night, Sanyang of all Sanyang betrayed the confidence Gambian had in him. He allowed to be used by the dictatorship for political purposes. His court rulings confirmed that he is not independent at all. It’s even reported that Sanyang attends APRC functions prior to his appointment as Justice Minister. Nigerian journalist Bruce Asomota is now vindicated. He once reported on Daily Observer that magistrate Sanyang was trying to use him to “pursue his ministerial dream.” Bruce in a dispatch charged that Sanyang attempted to bribe him to write bogus stories against magistrate King. That Sayang did told him that he was eying for the Justice Ministerial portfolio. Like Bruce, I was also invited by Sanyang for a dinner but I turned down the invitation. Sanyang later resorted to coming to our Point office to tell us his story. We have no alternative but to listen to him. Ours was done on professional line and Sanyang dares dispute the above statement. When Bruce made his his allegations against Sanyang, Pabi Joof known as (Joseph Joof) was the Attorney General then. Few days later Joof was fired. By virtue of the constitution, Sanyang lacked the requirement to man that hot seat at the time. Under the Gambian laws for one to serve as AG, he or she must have at least five years experience in the bar. Asomota’s allegations were doubted in some quarters in view of the above constitutional stipulation. What was described as a mere allegations has today been proven right. Sanyang has indeed been appointed as Justice Minister by the President. Interestingly, Sanyang told me before he left the Point that he was going to jail Asomota. His beef was that Asomota was siding with King. An arrest warrant was later issued by the police for the arrest of Asomota. Asomota was briefly interrogated by the Brikama police. At some point, he had to stop writing for the Observer. Sanyang was bragging everywhere that Asomota must be jailed. He calls him a foreigner who was in our country to side with his fellow foreigner. For Sanyang, magistrate King was a non Gambian despite his dual Citizenship. He told me that King’s citizenship was obtained by false pretense and should be revoked by the authorities. Sanyang then talked about the President sending King to Mecca for pilgrimage. This according to Sanyang was intended to induce the magistrate to favor the government in future litigations. For Sanyang, he believe that it was morally and ethically wrong for King to accept such offers from the state as a magistrate. Today, Sayang is being tested by history. We hope he would not follow into King;s foot steps. From 1994 to date, more than ten Justice Ministers have been hired and fired. Sanyang who hailed from Buwiam has been bragging that “he is a close friend of the President.” Sanyang should bear in mind that the portfolio he has been entrusted with is an important one and should not at any given time allowed to be used against the voiceless. Justice should guide his actions at all time. Remember that, posterity would judge every one of us, based on our actions and comportment. Be a minister for the people and not Jammeh and his APRC. Peace. The government you are busy trying to serve is on its last days. Change is inevitable. Take it easy Kebba and stick to your oath. The Gambian is bigger than Yahya Jammeh. Governments come and go but the country remains. Please take not of this. The country is in your hands. Have a great day. Peace.