Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: The Gambia is locked in a political deathtrap. We are all notorious tribalists. It does not matter our level of education and world view. We are all in the gutter together. The university lecturer is as rabidly tribal as the village idiot. The stew of a fascistic citizenry with a malevolent elite is our collective damnation. We will either sink or rise together. In terms of politics, we as Gambians have a settled culture of repudiation of common sense and political decency.
Fatoumatta: A bonafide Gambian and military officer Omar Sarjo, who served the Gambia National Army for thirteen years and his Gambian citizenship revoked and arbitrarily terminated from the military imprisoned, just as we know he is being mistreated, sidelined, and persecuted by the Gambia Government. However, totalitarian identity/ethnic politics makes it difficult to acknowledge this fact openly. The Gambia is still governed based on rumors and guesswork. The passion and discretion of state elites and Gambians who are eternally naïve and manipulable tossed whichever directions politicians and tribal lords, please. One moment you have discrimination and selective justice base on religious, political, and tribal now cherished aphrodisiac in our Gambian politics.
Fatoumatta: How can anyone who thinks the wrongful termination of a Gambian military officer Omar Sarjo from the Gambia National Army (GNA) and revoked him of his Gambian citizenship because of his tribe and region is defensible be a legal carpenter? I could add ignoramus or closet government sycophant and a bigot. There is an essential aspect of the rule of law and natural justice that the National Human Rights Commission (NHC) and Facebook/Twitter lawyers and masters of legal sophistry, who abound in this our land, conveniently ignore and/or forget that the act of revoking someone of his Gambian citizenship without thorough investigation with willful misrepresentation for solid grounds for revocation of a man his citizenship under the Constitution is reprehensible and deplorable behavior. The acts of discrimination and wrongful termination and revoking a man’s citizenship on tribal and political persecution can only be disingenuous, cruel and reprehensible, and uncivilized in a democratic and civilized society.
Fatoumatta: According to the State Intelligence Service (SIS), an official investigation report confirms beyond any shadow of a doubt that the imperative of hate, tribalism inspired against officer Omar Sarjo’s wrongful termination from the National Army and revoking his Gambian citizenship appears to be motivated by political exclusion and tribal persecution in the Gambia against minorities rights in the country. As a matter of right, we are entitled to offer political support to the Government or whomever we choose. However, we also have a higher duty, especially public policy influencers, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Gambia Bar Association, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHC), to offer honest legal independent and impartial advice or opinions on essential matters of grave public interest. After all, professional ethics require the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission to avoid being recruited into their friend’s and sponsors’ cause(s), political exclusion, and complicity to with social, economic, and political injustice and be forthright in their legal advice. Even in situations where forthrightness means losing out on government briefs and state patronage.
Fatoumatta: Ex-soldier Omar Sarjo has honorably served in the Gambia National Army ( GNA) for thirteen years with dedication and patriotism. He was never in trouble or conflict with the law or contravention of the Gambia National Amy Act; instead, he was summarily and wrongfully terminated from the Army. He was also falsely imprisoned for more than three months and stripped of his Gambian citizenship because someone with tribal bones made a WhatsApp audio broadcast accusing officer Omar Sarjo as the petulant’s biological son and protagonist rebel leader, Salifu Sarjo of Cassamance in Southern Senegal.
Fatoumatta: According to impeccable sources, an investigation panel by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) report has unambiguously absolved and exculpated officer Omar Sarjo of all false claims against him. Officer Sarjo deserved to be reinstated in the National Army and compensated for wrongful termination of his services and false imprisonment by the authorities for such an egregious act and restored his dignity.
Fatoumatta: Moreover, the Gambia Government must discontinue peddling falsehood and tribal propaganda against officer Omar Sarjo and the entire Jola ethnic group. The right to freedom from discrimination is guaranteed under the Constitution. Now that we have “repentant” arsonists, criminal drug dealers, killers, rapists, and, being reintegrated into society, shouldn’t the Gambia government adopt a similar policy for “repentant.” Kidnappers, armed robbers, arsonists, rapists, ritual murderers, drug dealers, and internet fraudsters, and why not reinstate and reintegrate officer Omar Sarjo into the Gambia National Army, restoring his citizen after relinquishment of his Gambian citizenship.
Fatoumatta: Excerpts from a unanimous (9-Judge Bench) decision of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in Anudo Ochieng Anudo v United Republic of Tanzania, delivered 22nd March 2018: “International Law does not allow, save under very exceptional situations, the loss of nationality. The said conditions are: i) they must be founded on a clear legal basis; ii) must serve a legitimate purpose that conforms with International Law; iii) must be proportionate to the interest protected; iv) must install procedural guaranties which must be respected, allowing the concerned to defend himself before an independent body…
The Court notes, also, that the Applicant’s citizenship was being challenged 33 years after his birth; that he has used the same citizenship for all those years leading an ordinary life, pursuing his studies in the schools of the Respondent State and in other countries; and that he has always lived and worked, like every other citizen, in the Respondent State’s territory where he had been exercising a known profession…The Court further notes that the Respondent State does not contest the Applicant’s parents’ Tanzanian nationality… The Court is of the opinion that the evidence provided by the Respondent State concerning the justification for the withdrawal of the Applicant’s nationality is not convincing. It, therefore, holds in conclusion that the deprivation of the Applicant’s nationality was arbitrary, contrary to Article 15(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Fatoumata: Upon reading the Judgment, I formed the distinct impression that the Gambia has too many public officers with necks that are connected to pumpkins. We use our ethnic groups to impose conformity or superiority and inferiority, especially to justify the unequal distribution of resources. We contradict the hospitality and humanity embodied in our cultures. This use of ethnicity to discriminate and alienate is the ultimate proof that that the ethnic group is not a nation. If ethnic groups were really nations, they would be inclusive and non-discriminatory. Nations are imagined, so this discriminatory behavior is not nationalistic because it is a failure of self-imagination beyond the immediate. We need to learn African and world history to stop giving respectable names to injustice to compensate for our lack of imagination in establishing justice.
Alagi Yorro Jallow