Hon. Lamin Cesar, National Assembly Member For Kiang West.
By Landing Ceesay
The National Assembly Member (NAM) for Kiang West, Hon. Lamin Ceesay, in an interview with Kerr Fatou, said the souls of people who were killed under former President Yahya Jammeh’s direction are more important than his (Jammeh’s) assets.
Hon. Ceesay made these statements in response to the frequent calls by other parliamentarians regarding the seizure of President Jammeh’s assets.
“Jammeh’s properties all put together, what he got in his entire life, one human being’s soul is more important than that. Because the way he (Jammeh) gets those properties for himself, his family, and his parents is the same way and manner somebody’s son can get the properties for himself, his family, and his parents.
“So, if he (Jammeh) should kill that son, who might even get more properties than him. If the person lives, he/she could be the president of this Republic. Who could in fact be the president of the ECOWAS parliament, who could, in fact, be the president of the African Union, and Who could in fact, be the president of the UN? If he (Jammeh) killed that person, and you are complaining of the seizure of his properties today, it is unfair,” Hon. Ceesay told Kerr Fatou.
Hon. Ceesay said from TRRC recommendations there were 250 killings, which were associated with Jammeh. He said these are clear things that came from the reports.
Hon. Ceesay believes that with the recommendations from the TRRC and other related issues, the mentioning of Jammeh’s name cannot be taboo in the Gambia.
“So, I think his (Jammeh) name cannot be a taboo in this country. When you want to mention his name, people think it is a problem. But it is not spoiling my social relations with anybody. Colleague parliament members who defend Jammeh are the best of my friends. When it comes to the social level, we share issues and all that. But when it comes to national issues, I don’t compromise on that.
“You have your opinions; you reserve them that Jammeh’s properties must be protected. Jammeh must be protected, and Jammeh must come back and live here. Let him come back and live here. He is a citizen of this country. But if the law demands that Jammeh must be prosecuted, then Jammeh must be prosecuted. Impunity cannot thrive even not only Jammeh, but any of them who helped Jammeh to perpetuate himself in power, rigging elections over and over, because it happens,” he said.
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Hon. Ceesay further stated that the “bad laws” that Jammeh has been all made in Parliament, saying the architects, the engineers, of those “bad laws” are still sitting in the Parliament as presiding officers.
The Kiang West NAM further told Kerr Fatou that it is a concept by some people that Jammeh’s name should not be called. And If his name is called, it is a problem even at the Parliament.
“If you talk about the TRRC, it is a problem. If we talk, the 1997 constitution is a problem. And these are national issues to talk about. The way we can talk about the government of the day is the same way we can talk about the then government. It is the same way we can talk about the colonial era, and the same way we can talk about the first Republic, which was Jawara’s government.
“But anytime you open your mouth, or you want to talk about Jammeh, it is a problem. In fact, even some of my colleagues from the National Assembly Members will tell you that ‘in this, we will differ with you.’ Even when it comes to the Draft Constitution, they promised me that they will vote against it even on the floor of the chambers. How can we make up the country funnily when they always ask about Jammeh’s properties? I am not encouraging that the government should illegally sell Jammeh’s properties,” Hon. Ceesay said.
The outspoken young parliamentarian said Jammeh’s properties are for the state. He said If those properties are confiscated, they are seized for the country, determined by a Commission.
Hon. Ceesay said a commission is a legal institution that got its mandate from the same parliament they are serving in.
“So, if the Commission recommends that his (Jammeh) properties should be confiscated. They have to be sold legally, and they have to be sold in the right way. You cannot sell a property worth D1 million to D200,000. It is unacceptable if it happens that way. We have several allegations of such that these properties were sold for less than their price and some properties were taken, even before the commission was done.
“Monies were taken to accounts different from where the commission asked them to be. Those were allegations that we have heard. I cannot substantiate them. But if so, those are not good practices. We cannot encourage the government to do that. But Jammeh’s properties all together, what he got entire of his life. One human being’s soul is more important than that,” Hon. Ceesay told Kerr Fatou.
Hon. Ceesay further told Kerr Fatou, that when they came to Parliament initially, they (Parliamentarians) thought they were coming for reform. But with time, he came to realize that reform was going to be very difficult, or maybe impossible at all, because of the things that were happening at the parliament.
“So, this is why I re-echo as a parliamentarian for Gambians to listen to say, Jammeh’s name cannot be a taboo in this country. Because we cannot allow what happened in this country to repeat itself again. We cannot allow those killings to repeat themselves again. And we cannot allow victimization. If you complain as a parliamentarian like I did today, if I am part of his government, he can sack me, and I will lose my seat.
“He (Jammeh) can do whatever kinds of things of victimization like he was calling my constituents “Baading fassa highway.” We have a right to speak, and to support any political party. But we still reserve the same right to get our entitlement as citizens of this country. We pay tax and the national resources, our rivers, our timber, our water, our airspace, the loans and grants that come into this country. We are part of it. So, we deserve those developments,” Hon. Ceesay said.
Hon. Ceesay said Gambians cannot allow “such impunity, and bad governance, to repeat itself again.”
Hon. Ceesay told Kerr Fatou, that is why he said Jammeh’s name cannot be taboo in this country.
“We want the TRRC recommendations to be implemented and the draft constitution as well to come. But to my disappointment, if you want to talk about the then government is taboo, it is not going to be possible. The Gambia will never make a mistake of forgetting about the history that happened in this country, and it will never be possible. So, therefore, the name of the ex-president will not be a taboo in this country and his atrocities will not be a taboo. We will talk about them so that history will not repeat itself again,” he said.