The morning of Wednesday 26th June 2019 was like any other day for me. While I was going about my day, I tuned in to the radio in order to follow the proceedings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. Supposedly that day, Mr. Yankuba Touray, a member of the former AFPRC regime, was to testify before the commission and give his evidence. However, the moment that Mr. Touray was expected to take his oath before the proceedings commenced, a legal argument started between him and Mr. Faal. I could not see what was really happening in the chamber, but through the background noise on the radio, I knew it was going to be an interesting day for The Gambia.
What struck me the most was that the lead counsel, Mr. Faal, was almost pleading with Mr. Touray to accept the rules and regulations and he kept on reminding Mr. Touray that there would be consequences if he failed to comply. Reluctantly, at last Mr. Touray agreed to appear but following a heated exchange between him and Mr. Faal, the proceedings were adjourned forthwith because Mr. Touray was never going to compromise his immunity and amazingly he walked out of the room with massive confidence as if nothing could to happen to him.
Promptly, the chairman of the commission reinstated his ordered and Mr. Touray was immediately arrested and kept in detention until further notice. A few moments later I was coming from Kairaba Avenue and heading towards Senegambia, and just before I reached Elton Patrol Station, opposite Kotu Police Station, the convoy of three vehicles carrying Mr .Touray with heavy security passed by me on the highway. They were accelerating from Senegambia towards Kairaba Station like a plane taking off. Immediately after they had gone, I saw a group of people, mostly youths, running after them. It was a funny episode which I will remember for years to come.
I will let constitutional experts exhaust that side of the legal argument and focus on the moral aspect only. Though legal experts made it clear that there is a loophole in the constitution which partially gave immunity from prosecution to Mr. Touray to a certain degree, but equally under current circumstances in a conservative society like The Gambia, the way and the manner in which he conducted himself at the commission on Wednesday was really appalling and outrageous.
Can you imagine a man of his calibre totally disregarding a law which was designed to foster a spirit of national unity and reconciliation? I hope perhaps some time in the near future, Mr. Touray might live to regret insisting that he was immune from prosecution. I am not sure if he can be proud of his actions on that day!
Mr. Touray, I hope you will read this article. I am personally appealing to you to reconsider your position and come forward as a gentleman so that we can hear your side of story. This is what we really expect from you. Be on the right side of the history before is too late. Instead of arrogantly invoking a section of the constitution which you claim gives you immunity from prosecution and bars you from testifying before any commission of inquiry in the country, you should bear in mind the serious nature of allegations of human right abuse, including a possible murder charge, that are pending against you. You ought to know better, brother. I expect you to redeem yourself before Gambians and embrace the opportunity offered to you by the lead Counsel, in pursuit of a possible future amnesty.
Had you taken this advice, your chance of becoming a role model for future generations `would be far greater than now, given your current status of Public Enemy Number One. Don’t you realise that Gambians are peace loving people? We can easily forgive and embrace each other as one nation and one people. You may have a competent legal team advising you but if you had consulted a competent sociologist, perhaps on Wednesday you wouldn’t have audacity to underestimate the annoyance of Gambian people.
Additionally, I am extremely disappointed with the people who invaded Kairaba Police Station with the intention to impose mob justice against Mr. Touray. My brothers and sisters, no matter what, we cannot take the law in to our own hands. The rule of law must prevail and we should not politicize it either.
Finally, here is my message to the witnesses who are expected to appear before the TRRC in future: In a civilised society like ours, when there are serious allegations of human rights abuse, such as torture, rape and murder, moral responsibility is far superior to constitutional immunity. Common sense ought to teach you better. When you are giving the opportunity to come forward and share your side of story with the public please do not emulate the actions of Mr. Touray. If you do one day you may live to regret that!
I wish everyone happy Friday