GFF boss refutes illegal congress report

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gambia Football Federation’s President Lamin Kabba Bajo has refuted newspapers reports that he had attempted to take part in “illegal football activities” in the Lower River Region, (LRR), The Gambia.

There had been widespread newspaper allegations of Mr Bajo’s alleged participation/involvement in the attempted “illegal congress” in Jarra Soma over the weekend.

The former minister of Youth & Sport in Jammeh’s regime Bajo, came under serious attack, criticism and accusation of holding a secret close door meeting in an attempt to influence the decision of LRR youth representatives to vote for Mr Ansumana Sanneh, as president of the regional football association in that area.

The report went further to blame the GFF boss of leadership malpractice as he faces allegation of attempting to use LRR regional sports committee through Sanneh in his bid for re-election in the helm of the country’s football affairs.

However, upon receiving the news of his alleged involvement in the matter that has caused confusion and controversy from certain corners in the region, Mr Bajo was quick to dismiss the reports.

He described it as “baseless allegation” intended to mislead and frustrate the effort of people who wants to work with the FA in order to develop football across the country.

“The report of GFF’s involvement in any secret meeting is both misleading and unfounded. I believe people behind such acts have no interest in the development of football in LRR because it is clearly written that their intention is to frustrate our progressive effort and implementation of FA’s development agenda, policies and ideas as we continue to serve the collective interest of Gambian football to greater heights,” he said.

Mr Bajo further gave a detail explanation as regards his role in the matter.

He said: “I was on my way to attend CRR elective congress in Bansang when I had a brief stop at LRR to have a joint breakfast with my team that accompanied me to the tour.

“I made a phone call to Ansumana Sanneh, to inform him that I was heading to Bansang for the congress along with my team that made the CRR trip.

“While at Soma, Momodou Lamin Fofana, divisional sports coordinator for LRR, called Martin Gomez, third vice president of the FA who informed him (Fofana) that they were heading to Bansang for the elective congress.

 “We got report that Momodou Lamin Fofana and some other ill-informed youths went to disrupt an executive committee meeting headed by Ansumana and his team at Soma mini stadium.

“The reason for disrupting the meeting was based on the false assumption that Ansumana and his men were holding a secret congress on behalf of the GFF.”

“This is absolutely false,” Bajo told Pointsport in an interview.

He emphasised that there’s no football rule in The Gambia that bars him from participating in football-related matters/activities in the country in his capacity as the President of the Gambia Football Federation.

Bajo, who at one-time served as Gambian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Morocco, said: “I’m a big advocate of fair play and rule of law as dictated in our football rules and the development of sports in that area.”

This stance, he said, has occupied centre stage in his football agenda since assuming office as GFF boss in a highly controversial election that brought him to the GFF top seat in 2014.

“I have a massive interest in terms of supporting the people of LRR and every other region in my quest to attain sports excellence and football development in particular, as part of GFF’s continued efforts to decentralise football across the country,” said the soft-spoken GFF boss Bajo, who previously served The Gambia as foreign affairs minister in Yahya Jammeh’s government.

Meanwhile, there were reports of two regional youth members’ alleged involvement in the saga.

However, the two men, namely Saikou Darboe and Ansumana Sanneh have both debunked the allegation, describing it as false fabrication meant to tarnish the image of GFF and football fraternity in LRR.

Darboe added that he was nowhere close to Jarra Soma during the aforementioned meeting.

“I disassociate myself from reports that I (Saikou Darboe), was part of the regional youth group who disrupted the meeting at Soma.

“I have no prior knowledge of such gathering and I condemned this accusation in the strongest terms,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, I was taking part in a regional quarterly meeting at Kiang Sankandi, on Saturday. So common sense would tell you that I cannot be in Sankandi and at Soma at the same time,” he explained.

Darboe called on his fellow youths in the region to come together and fight against fabricators of such “unpatriotic behaviour”.

Meanwhile, one of the regional youth leaders in the area, who preferred to remain anonymous, dismissed report of any illegal congress in Soma.

He further spoke on a long list of development brought to the region by Kabba Bajo led-GFF executive ranging from creation of football structures, to youth participation in football tournaments, courses and camps, artificial turf in Soma and the projected multipurpose sports complex already in the pipeline, amongst other development initiatives.

Author: Lamin Drammeh