By Muhammed Sailu Bah
On Thursday, 30 July, 2015, the recently pardoned former prisoners held a procession from the Arch to the July 22 square in the city of Banjul to thank President Yahya Jammeh for granting them amnesty.
The event was graced by the vice president, cabinet ministers, senior government officials, security personnel, APRC supporters and families of pardoned prisoners.
In addressing the gathering, Madam Isatou Njie Saidy, the Vice President, hailed the president for this gesture in pardoning the prisoners. She described it as “Allah fearing and mercy gesture.”
The Gambian vice president said such kind of thing never happened anywhere in the whole world before, adding that this amnesty will be part of the history of the world.
Madam Njie Saidy also noted the extraordinary session held by the members of the National Assembly in thanking the president.
“We are gathered to show our loyalty and firm allegiance to the president`s magnanimous gesture,” said the vice president.
She said the whole world should recognise this magnanimity of the Gambian president. She said people should not be pointing fingers at the convicts and their families.
Madam Njie Saidy said it is now left for Gambians to be grateful to the president.
The vice president said all the charges against some of the ex-convicts are going to be dropped such as those of Njogu Bah, Lamin Jobarteh and Pa Harry Jammeh.
Mrs. Neneh Macduol Gaye, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Gambia is a blessed country and this has never happened anywhere.
She said the president did not do this because of pressure but rather out of generosity as an Allah fearing Muslim.
Speaking on behalf of the pardoned prisoners, Njogu L. Bah, former secretary general, head of the civil service and minister of presidential affairs, thanked the president for his “gesture and generosity”.
“We were not taken to prison by president Jammeh, but rather it was destined by Allah,” he said.
Lang Tombong Tamba, former chief of defence staff of the armed forces, for his part, said no one wants to go to prison. He said in the prison a lot of people were opportune to learn the Quran and other languages such as French and Spanish.
Tamba also thanked the president for allowing them to reunite with their families. He further appealed to the president to pardon some of the other prisoners who were together with them in the prison.
Lamin Jobarteh, the former attorney general and minister of justice, said he will be speaking in English for everyone to hear what he was saying. He reiterated that president Jammeh did not send them to prison; that this was predestined and that anyone who says that it was the president who imprisoned them is going against the teachings of Islam.
Also addressing the gathering was Mr. Sulayman Sarr, another pardoned prisoner, who thanked the president, adding that Gambia is a place where everybody knows everybody else. He said the peace and tranquility in the country should not be jeopardised as is happening in other countries.
The event was chaired by Mr. Momodou Saidy, the Director of Press at the President`s Office.