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Ombudsman sensitised rural communities in LRR

May 8, 2014, 10:04 AM | Article By: Ebrima Bah

Rural communities in the Lower River Region have benefited from a weeklong sensitisation by the Office of the Ombudsman on the roles, mandates and responsibilities of the Office of the Ombudsman held in Mansakonko.

The Deputy Governor of Lower River Region, Abou Njie, labelled the exercise as important enough to empower the rural communities with lasting peace.

He made a scenario-based presentation outlining the implications vis-à-vis the relevance of awareness en route to solicit justice.

According to him, there are issues which appear as challenges to employees and do not necessarily warrant police or court cases, in the existence of the Office of the Ombudsman.

He reminded those at the meeting that the ombudsman was set up to ensure fair play in the world of work at their disposal.

Juma K. Camara, Principal Communications Officer, said the Office of the Ombudsman began operation in The Gambia fifteen years ago with powers to arrest any public officer, access information and places to enable it to execute its functions efficiently and impartially.

According to him, the Office of the Ombudsman was established to provide free-of-charge redress to all members of the public who are aggrieved by official actions of public officers.

The office, he said, investigates complaints of injustice, unfair treatment, abuse of power, maladministration, discrimination, corruption and mismanagement perpetrated by public officers against fellow public officers, or against other members of the public in the execution of official duties.

“The office is mandated to launch both reactive and proactive investigations into the above-mentioned issues variously reflected in the official decisions and actions of public officers such as wrongful dismissals or terminations of services, denial of promotions and benefits, disproportionate punishment, trampling on the rights of the people in different ways,” Mr Camara said.

Lamin Saidykhan, Principal Investigative Officer, Office of the Ombudsman, Lower River Regional Branch, said the Ombudsman gives people the chance to express their grievances and to get redress.

However, he added, the complainants are required to exercise patience and understanding while the ombudsman follows its investigative procedure to come up with conclusions based on the cases at hand.

He advised the communities in the Kiangs to note that the Office of the Ombudsman is the last resort for dispute resolution.

“People should try to explore avenues opened to them at departmental level before coming to the ombudsman,” he stated.

Kiang Central Chief, Demba Sanyang, acknowledged that the information shared at the workshop had the potential to erase mountains of misconception around the existence of the Ombudsman’s Office in the Lower River Region, Kiang in particular.

“A lot is being said and believed about this office but a lot is being corrected from this meeting,” he said, while appealing for more step-down meeting across villages in his district.