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Femi Peters is a hero not a criminal, says minority leader

Apr 19, 2010, 11:14 AM

The Minority Leader and Member for Kiang West constituency, Hon. Momodou L.K. Sanneh has described his party's Campaign Manager as a hero and not a criminal in jail.

Hon. Sanneh, who moved the motion on the Adjournment debate at the National Assembly last Wednesday, blamed Femi Peters' imprisonment on the former IGP's refusal to grant the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) a permit to hold a political rally, as required under the Public Order Act.

"Madam Speaker, that young man is not a criminal. He has been working politically in this country for so many years, and sending him to prison, Madam Speaker, is a matter of concern. At the same time, I term him as a hero, because he is fighting for justice and the right cause."

The Minority Leader likened Mr. Peters' position to former African independence struggle heroes like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Jomo Kenyata of Kenya, all of whom, he said, were sent to prison for fighting what's not just.

"Nelson Mandela has been sent to prison for fighting for justice, Kwame Nkrumah has been sent to prison for fighting for justice, and Jomo Kenyata has been sent to prison for fighting for justice. Femi Peters also has been sent to prison just for fighting for justice, and for the failure of a civil servant, the former IGP, who has put him into this mess," he stated.

The NAM then call on the Independedent Electoral Commission (IEC) to finance elections in The Gambia as, according to him, other countries in the sub-region finance all political parties to hold elections.

"Madam Speaker, in the countries around Gambia here in the sub-region, their IECs normally finance elections. I'm also appealing to IEC Gambia to look into financing elections for all political parties in this country," adding that this is something very important for all political parties in the country.

Also contributing to the debate, Hon. Babanding K.K. Daffeh Member for Kiang Central constituency said the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia calls for political pluralism, with special provisions to back this in the same constitution. He added that the IGP's denial of his party a permit to hold a political rally "is unconstitutional and unacceptable." "It does not hold any water," Hon. Daffeh added.

He wondered what threat to state security must have warranted to the denial of the permit, as asserted by the Interior Minister, who in response to a question said that the permit was denied due to security reasons.

"Madam Speaker, we are law-abiding, and if you denied us a permit for ten years, we will still ask for it, because we are a registered political party and deserved permits," the NAM who is a member of the opposition UDP declared.

However, Hon. Netty Baldeh member for Tumana, in contributing to the Adjournment debate said the law is uniform, and that everybody is equal before the law. He added that "if one felt offended, the individual should use the law to redress his problem, and not by breaking the law to solve his situation."

"Madam Speaker, the law is uniform, and when I said the law is uniform, I mean everybody is equal before the law. Madam Speaker, if somebody else breaks the law, the only option I have is not to break the law to redress my situation, but to use the law within the limits of the law to address my situation," he added.

According to Hon. Baldeh, who also called himself a brother to Mr. Peters, the IGP "could be sued, and if he breaks the law he can be taken to court, and you will have redress."

"Madam Speaker, the Inspector General of Police is sueable. If he breaks the law, you can take him to court, and you will have redress. But if you don't take him to court, and you prefer to break the law, the unfortunate scenario will happen, as in the case of my big brother Femi Peters," he asserted.