By Omar Bah
The Justice Ministry has tasked the Gambia Police Force to further investigate the fertilizer scandal involving former agriculture minister Omar Jallow, the Minister of Justice Baa Tambadou confirmed yesterday.
OJ, who served as minister of agriculture in the government of President Barrow, was alleged to have his fingers in the reported illegal sale of expired fertiliser to Gambian farmers.
“On the fertiliser scandal, there has been progress. We have reviewed the file and sent the case to the police with a request for them to investigate further with some guidance on areas they should investigate with some specific questions that they should address as part of their investigation,” he revealed.
Minister Tambadou said people should be cognisant of the fact that there are different requirements for investigations and different standards of proofs that are required to defend investigations.
“The [report of the investigation] that we received was insufficient for criminal purposes. So we have sent out the file with our views and our suggestions on how they can investigate this matter properly to enable us make a determination as to whether any criminal offences have been committed by who and whether we should proceed with the prosecution of the matter,” he added.
“When we hear back from the police, then we will be able to give better update on the issue,” he said.
On the case of the detained Junglers, Minister Tambadou said: “We will not deny that these Junglers have been held for a long time now and they have not yet been brought to court. It is a challenge to us in terms of dealing with this specific group of people all of whom in detention have accepted committing very terrible crimes in this country.”
This, he said presented a dilemma for his office. “We are still reviewing their case and very recently we received a team of international experts we are working with to see the way forward on this matter. But it is a difficult situation. What do you do with a group of people who have accepted committing very heinous crimes and you are not ready in terms of the structures in place to undertake such a heavy trial?”
“These trials are not open and shut cases. The Solo Sandeng case is coming to two years now despite having a very good team of lawyers handling the case. I don’t think this country is yet ready to handle trials like that. I am not saying it is right to keep the Junglers in custody without trial, but it is the unique circumstances we are faced with, which is justifying our actions because we do not have much options here,” he stressed.
He said the good side of it is that they have not been tortured and that they are willing to allow the international community like the Red Cross to visit them to confirm that they are not maltreated.
“We are working hard, but it is a unique challenge. The difference between us and the previous regime is that we admit these people are in custody. But the truth is, we are not ready to hold a trial of that magnitude with that many witnesses,” he said.
Minister Tambadou further revealed that Abdoulie Saine’s case file is on his desk and that he is looking at it personally not because it is about hate speech or perhaps a possible criminal offence but because of the person who is involved in the case.
“This is a former member of the National Assembly and a member of the APRC. We want to ensure that no one will be prosecuted because of his alignment to a political party or their past without evidence to justify that action,” he intimated.