By Landing Ceesay
The Brikama Area Council (BAC), at its inaugural press conference, described the resumption of the sedition case against Chairman Yankuba Darboe as a political conspiracy to subvert the will of the people in the West Coast Region (WCR).
“Mr. President, without an iota of doubt, we perceived the resurgence of a two-year-old sedition court case as a masterpiece of political conspiracy orchestrated by your government and political sympathizers to impede the development of the West Coast and a calculated means to subvert the will of over 77, 000 electorates of the region.
“If and only if your intention of resurrecting this case is premised on the application of the rule of law and good governance, which was gained by the blood of Gambians, why do you have to wait until now? Why not at the time when Hon. Yankuba Darboe was a private citizen and been under your mercy at the Central Prison, Mile Two, for a couple of months?” the Council asked.
The press conference aimed to provide a comprehensive update to the residents of the West Coast Region and the entire nation about the accomplishments of the Council since Chairman Darboe assumed his role.
The 7th of September 2023 will mark precisely 100 days since the new chairman and councilors took office following the local government elections in May 2023.
During the press conference, the Council took the opportunity to once again express their discontent regarding the sedition charges against their Chairman, Yankuba Darboe.
The Council said that Mr. President was on record ridiculing the three years Jotna political prisoners and vowed to pardon them. The Council then urged the Gambian President to mean what he had said and to do the needful in this “disheartening” situation.
The Council further told the media that the continuation of the case would be a validation of their suspicion of President Barrow’s attempt to subvert the will of the masses of the West Coast Region and further impede their progress.
“Mr. President, the essence of local councils is to foster development at the local level with the ultimate aim of complementing the efforts of the central government. And the Brikama Area Council, under the leadership of Hon. Chairman Yankuba Darboe, are well cognizant to these prevailing facts and committed to ensuring the application of holistic approaches to the development of the West Coast Region.
“Therefore, we urge you not to eye him as a competitor but a partner in development. Hence, we are committed to the preservation of harmony and natural peace we are endowed with as a nation, thus, gained the calling “Smiling Coast of Africa”. We implore you to redirect your focus and efforts on eradicating the countless corruptions the nation plunged into rather than scapegoating the judiciary system in stifling the rights and will of the masses,” BAC urged President Barrow.
The Council urged President Barrow to reverse the case by putting it to rest for eternity, for the sake of National development.
The Council reminds the President of the last incidents, such as the statement made in 2017 by the current Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Seedy S. K. Njie, which led to the evacuation and subsequent inauguration of the President Barrow in Dakar, Senegal.
“Mr. President, recent actions are perceived as politically motivated. We also recall the statement made by Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, who referred to you as a “clueless president”. We urge you not to exacerbate the hardships faced by our people and to address pressing issues such as food insecurity, inflation, and support for flood and windstorm victims.
“Moreover, we seek answers regarding the perpetrators of heinous crimes, including the murder of over 70 babies from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) in broad daylight, as well as the whereabouts of individuals involved in financial misconduct in various government agencies. These, among a host of undesirable events unfolding daily under your watch, constitute the benchmark for your swift attention, only if you are committed to the administration of the rule of law and good governance,” the Council stated.
The Council stated that Chairman Yankuba Darboe’s aspirations is to serve the entire West Coast Region, irrespective of one’s political affiliation and social differences.
The Council appealed to international organizations, civil society groups, and religious leaders to step in and advocate for the dismissal of all charges against Chairman Yankuba Darboe.
Regarding the Council’s achievements since Chairman Darboe assumed office, it was noted that the BAC had been grappling with inefficiency and fiscal indiscipline, which unfortunately earned it the reputation of being the most underperforming urban council among its peers.
Under the leadership of Chairman Yankuba Darboe, the Council introduced the “Seneya” project, aimed at transforming the council into a responsive and citizen-focused institution.
The “Seneya” project primarily focuses on addressing challenges in waste collection through partnerships with private sector entities operating in this sector.
In the past years, the Council has accumulated a cumulative deficit exceeding D10 million in its financial accounts, necessitating continuous reliance on overdrafts to meet financial obligations. This financial burden has hindered its ability to act proactively and resulted in a lack of responsiveness in its operations over previous years.
“Under the visionary and citizen-driven leadership qualities embedded in Hon. Darboe, the council has introduced and adopted a financial threshold as a mechanism to benchmark and control the financial spending of the council. This mechanism has drastically decreased the accumulative minus amount of D1Om to D1.7m as of date. And today we are priding ourselves of not banking on overdrafts to expedite our financial obligations.
“Hon, Darboe, and the council also introduced a voluntary compliance team, which consisted of gallant male and female young people of West Coast Region, to eradicate the act of under lodgment of revenue generated from the daily market dues. The team is tasked to accompany collectors assigned to markets to serve as monitors in the process of revenue mobilization in the area. As per official records, the individual daily collected revenue lodged were within the amounts of hundreds, but since the inception of this team, the daily individual judgment increased to thousands,” the Council revealed.
On March 9, 2021, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) filed a criminal lawsuit against Yankuba Darboe and levelled two charges against him.
The charges are sedition and contempt of court. The prosecutors alleged that, on February 10, 2021, Yankuba Darboe committed an offence by uttering unpleasant words against the President of the Gambia, Adama Barrow, and the Judiciary of the Gambia.
After almost 3 years of the charges, the Court, on August 17, 2023, ordered Chairman Yankuba Darboe to open his defense after overruling his no case to answer application.
On August 31, 2023, Chairman Yankuba Darboe appeared in court to open his defence, but the case could not proceed.
Many political and social commentators described the resumption of the case as a political witch hunt against him.