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Protest over football banning rages on

Jul 18, 2013, 11:33 AM | Article By: Lamin Cham

The fallout from the banning of former GFA executive members, including two presidential aspirants, continues to increase and widen in scope.

Last night, at least two aspirants, Adama Halla Samba who was banned, and Mustapha Kebbeh, who is allowed to run, joined a large panel of stakeholders to address one of the largest news conferences since the football crisis started. Others at the panel included former GFA Secretary General Jammeh Bojang , Borry Darboe and  women’s football association official Modou Demba.

Mr Demba opened the conference by condemning the Normalization Committee for attempting to ban people based on just a normal auditors’ query. He said the stakeholders would use every means to fight this injustice to the last.

‘’Let me tell you that we are not compromising. We shall use all means, and the last place would be the Office of the President including the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

“In the next few days, we shall send a signed petition with an ultimatum to the GFF with a 24-hour deadline. If they do not respond, we shall call you here again about our next step,’’ Demba said, noting that they are not taking things lightly.

The next speaker was Buba Star Janneh, an ex Gambian international and president of Bombada FC, who played for Wallidan in the 80s.

Mr Janneh reiterated that the issue before the Gambian football stakeholders is the pursuit and struggle for justice. Commenting on the banning issue, Mr Janneh said he, as a professional, has refused to believe that the authors of the report released by the NC, who are supposed to be lawyers, would oversight the cardinal principle of natural justice which calls for both sides of a case to be heard, and instead present a one-sided story on the audit report, and called it a final report. “I personally feel disappointed that people who are custodians of the law could fail to hear from both sides to write a finding they called final.

“Why did the lawyers fail to establish that they have also seen the response of the management of the GFA to the audit queries, and have put them into consideration.

“There is no indication at all in their report, which showed that they indeed saw the response of the GFA management to the auditor’s report and have input in their report.

“That is why I refused to believe that the authors of the supposed report actually agree to the contents of the report, because it is obviously one-sided and, therefore, against natural justice which is not normally the practice of lawyers,’’ Star Janneh said.

Janneh added that the NC’s attitude was expected, because the whole process has been a systematic build up from the time it started.

“What makes them to think that people who have been in football, running and managing teams, mentoring children to become responsible citizens, as in the case of Halla, are not fit to become president of the GFF?” Janneh asked.

Gambia For Gold

He again visited the issue of the Gambia for Gold. While it is every one’s knowledge that the Gambia for Gold  is not a private entity, but one which belongs  to all Gambians, through our tax money, Janneh said, according to him, it has never been audited, while the NC is busy chasing a three-year financial activity of the GFA.

“Is it not about time that Gambians ask for the Gambia for Gold to be audited in the interest of the tax payer’’? Janneh further queried.

The former Gambian international stated, in a response to a question that, if the status quo remains, they the stakeholders will boycott the election process in order not to legitimize an illegal process. 

Janneh further said that the battle in this struggle is in two phases. One is the individual battle for the affected persons to fight the affront to their image, while the other phase is for  the stakeholders to fight for the restoration of their chosen candidates’ rights to contest.

Mustapha Kebbeh, one of the candidates cleared by the NC to run in the July 31 elections, condemned the banning of other candidates calling it unfair and unjustified.

“I am not selfish, and will never side with injustice. I would love to see all the candidates allowed to contest along with me. Today I’m worried that if justice is not seen to be done, injustice will continue to consume everybody’’, he said.

He further asked why the NC failed to go by the simple dictates of administration, by serving the people affected by their decisions with the signed documents, instead of just dumping it in the media.

“I want to see a clear and level playing field. Have we ever heard President Jammeh ban any candidate in Gambian elections?  The Gambia is a peaceful country, and it is our duty now to preserve this peace by fighting for the maintenance of justice. Where is justice?  For me even the sky is not the limit in this struggle for justice,’’ he said.

Adama Halla Samba also addressed the news conference by stating that all what is happening is the manifestation of a personal vendetta being waged by Omar Sey.

“I want to make it clear that we, as the former GFA, have done nothing to warrant a ban. Let me make it clear that we are more clean than the guys in the Normalization Committee doing all this to the nation.

Let us not allow these people to get what they want in our football. We shall fight this injustice to the end. This is a calculated intention to destroy our character, so let us consolidate our efforts and fight this,’’ he declared.

Halla said the NC’s intention, if left unchallenged, will ruin the future of football as some of the people banned are running football academies producing young players in the country.

Former GFA secretary general Jammeh  EK  Bojang added his voice, accusing the Normalization Committee of trying to tarnish the image of the people, and  promising that he would fight to clear his name.

He called on the press to be prudent and honest in their presentation of the views of concerned people.

“This is not a fight for me alone or Halla, but the fight for every Gambian. Look at our FIFA rankings. Our ship is sinking and let us save the ship before it sinks,’’ he said.

Bojang said he would never appeal against his supposed banning because no one told him he was banned, and appealing would mean he has done wrong.

“In management ethics any person affected by a decision should be first served with a letter, before it even becomes public. The whole issue is to stain our personality,’’ he said.

Borry Darboe of Bakau United, while describing the Normalization process as unjustified and baseless, said the NC’s statement is false and discriminatory. Darboe urged the minster of Sports, Alieu Jammeh, to avoid being used by the Normalization Committee who are alienating and distancing him from the majority of the youths of this country.

“Alieu would have been the most successful Sports minister in this country because he is young and an academic, but if he allows himself to be used by the NC, they would bring him at loggerheads with Gambian youths.

“I think  Alieu has to revisit his position and distance himself from these people; they are of no good to him,’’ Darboe warned. He said the minster should, instead of listening to the advice of the NC, engage the Gambian youths across the country to know their true feelings.

Contacted to comment on these claims, Omar Sey of the Normalization Committee said he has spent a long time on numerous occasions responding to these claims.

“The problem is these people from the start did not accept the authority of the Normalization Committee, and never want to accept reality. They are living in utopia. I do not expect less from them. I am convinced that I’m serving the job I’m assigned to do to the best of my ability, in the interest of Gambian football,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Omar Sey revealed that some banned persons have appealed, but could not yet confirm who they are.