By Muhammed Sailu Bah
Through the grant of pardon by President Jammeh 227 prisoner were released this morning Friday 24 July 2015. The presidential pardon was not limited to prisoners convicted of treason, murder, rape, robbery as announced by the president but included former ministers and civil servants who served under the president and were convicted of economic crimes, abuse of office, negligence of duty sedition, false information, etc.
The premises of the Mile Two Administration complex was full of family members and loved ones of the pardoned prisoners; others were even outside the premises occupying even part of the highway. Vehicles were
diverted to use the opposite lane of the highway. Security was tight and armed security personnel could be seen everywhere.
After they assembled they were addressed by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Secretary General, Mr Lamin Nyabally and Interior Minister Mr Ousman Sonko.
In addressing the pardoned prisoners, Minister Sonko advised the prisoners to “stay away from violating the Law for next ten years to come,” while urging families to talk to their loved ones not to be victims of any crime.
S.G Nyabally reiterated similar comments and further said that the pardoned prisoners should try and positively contribute to development of the country.
The pardoned prisoners included the following treason convicts: Alhagie Nying, Alieu Jobe, Ex Captain Abdou Karim, Alieu Lowe, Abdoulie Sonko, Babou Janha, Samba Bah, Essa Baldeh, Captain Bunja Darboe, Mballow Kanteh, Wassa Camara, Sulayman Sarr, Pharing Sanyang, Omar Danfa Private Soldier, Omar Bun Mbye, Modu Gaye Ex Deputy Inspector General of Police, former NIA Director General Lamin Bo Badjie, former CDS of the Gambia Armed forces General Lang Tombong Tamba, Ngorr Secka Deputy Director General NIA and Ex Ambassador to Guinea Bissau, Kawsu Camara Alias Bombardier, Captain Yaya MS Darboe, Abdoulie Joof, Marabout Omar Faal, Ex Captain Pierre John Mendy, Ex Lieutenant Landing Sanneh and Foday Kassama.
The following who had served in President Jammeh’s administration were also pardoned: Ensa Badjie Ex Inspector General of Police, former Minister of Justice Lamin AF Jobarteh, Pa Hary Jammeh Ex Solicitor General, Dr. Njogu Bah, the former presidential affairs minister and Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service.
The pardoned prisoners were picked up at the prison gate by the various relatives and friends who were all overwhelmed by the reunion.
The release of prisoners is made possible by the president exercising his prerogative of mercy which the constitution empowers him to do. The prelude was the pronouncement of the president at the commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the July 22nd events which overthrew the former government in 1994.
Before the pardoned prisoners were released they thumb printed all their fingers of both hands, and were then snapped by a photographer.
Mr David Colley Director General of Prisons announced that pardoned prisoners can collect their release certificates next week as they are not yet ready.
A tabulation of the pardoned prisoners reveals that 26 treason convicts are released and all are Gambians. Murder convicts number 14, 9 Gambians, 2 Senegalese, 1 Bissau Guinean and 2 Mauritanians. Armed robbery convicts are 6, all them Nigerians.
Hard Drug Convicts are 8, 6 Venezuelans, 1 Estonian and 1 Dutch.
Drug Possession convicts number 91, 89 male, 2 female, 79 Gambians, 8 Senegalese, 2 Conakry Guineans, 2 Nigerians.
Drug Trafficking convicts 72, 71 male, 1 female, 51 Gambians, 13 Senegalese, 2 Conakry Guineans, 1 Bissau Guinean, 2 Nigerians, 1 Malian, 1 Serra-Leonean, 1 Cape Verdean.
Total convicts for Mile 2 and Jeshwang is 217, 214 male 3 female.
For Jangjangbureh Drug possession 7 convicts 7 Gambians.
Juvenile Murder is 1 Gambian.
Mile Two and Jeshwang total number of convicts is 217, Janjangbureh Prison 7, Juvenile Prison 1, giving a grand total of 225+4 = 229 released convicts. There is no indication of how the 4 is categorized. However a press release issued by the Ministry of the Interior indicates that a total of 227 prisoners have been released.