VC board secretary expresses disappointment with D.A. Jawo’s claims

Jun 28, 2024, 11:21 AM | Article By: Sulayman Waan

The board secretary of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations (Victim Centre) has expressed disappointment with Demba Ali Jawo for claiming that he was not given the opportunity to deliver well at the centre.

Speaking yesterday at a news conference at the Victim Centre’s headquarters in Senegambia, Lamin Sey said: “I have so much respect for him (Demba Ali Jawo) and it would be difficult to say that I am disappointed with him but that is the actual fact: I am disappointed with him. I was disappointed when I saw the content of that letter.

“I am not speaking for the Victim Centre in this regard but I am personally disappointed with him.”

Mr Sey said he was expecting the former board chair to table his plans for institution before the secretariat and board but he never discussed with any of the cadres about his pre-conceived ideas. Instead, he just resigned and claimed that he was not able to “fit in” the equation that exists at the Victim Centre.

On 12 June 2024, Mr Jawo tendered his resignation letter to the board secretary of the Victim Centre, claiming that he was not able to “fit in” the equation that exists at the  Center.

“As long as we know the board chair never had issue with anyone of us or the institution,” the Board secretary said. “He has claimed to have some dissatisfaction but the dissatisfaction has never been discussed with the secretariat.”

Adama Jallow, national coordinator for Victims Centre, thanked Mr Jawo for honouring his position and serving the Centre over the past months.

“We applauded him because he knew he was going to take a heavy responsibility because being a board chair is not easy,” he said. “Therefore, we thank him for taking the responsibility over the past months.”

He further said the Centre respects Mr Jawo’s decision to resign, adding: “He has the right to resign. Anybody can resign at any point in time in any institution based on reasons.

“We all know the reason of his resignation. It is not based on grudges. It is not based on issues with the secretariat or board but it based on personal grounds.”

To this end, he said the centre had accepted the resignation and thanked Jawo for his services to the institution and the victims of right violations as a whole.

He also acknowledged the job D.A. Jawo was doing with the rest of the board members and secretariat, saying: “They have been working to change the Victims Centre’s bylaws to a constitution as the institution has no constitution. He was also part of the team that was supposed to lobby funds for the institution.”

However, Jallow also expressed concern over Mr Jawo’s remarks about his plans to execute his functions as a board chair for the Victims Centre. He said D.A. Jawo “never presented any proposal” to execute his function in the centre.

“We would have loved to see him discussing his plans with us and see how best he could work on implementing them in the centre,” he said. “If he had informed the board about his plans or pre-conceived mind, we would have seen if it fits the policies and strategic plans of the organization. But both the board and secretariat did not have the opportunity to get that information from him.”

Concerning allegations that the former Board Chair was engaged in signing cheques, he said the Victims Centre’s financial manual and regulation indicated that the board chair, deputy board chair, and the national coordinator are mandated to endorse cheques but added that no one had ever been forced to sign a cheque.

“All our financial transactions are based on project implementation,” he clarified.

On allegation that the Victims Centre had shifted from a pressure group to government ally, Mr Jallow said the Centre had applauded good steps towards the victims but would have issues with government sometimes. The government had accepted about 96 percent of the TRRC recommendations, he said, adding that the Centre would challenge the government anytime it did something contrary to the interest of the victims of right violations.

Also reacting to allegations, Aisha Jammeh, communications officer for the Victims Centre, said: “The Centre cannot work without the government because the government is responsible for implementing the White Paper.”

Sirra Ndow, board member cum chairperson for Alliance of Victim-led Organisation (AVLO), also made certain clarifications with regard to publications that D.A. Jawo was denied involvement in the secretariat’s day-to-day activities. She said that in organisational procedure the board has oversight functions while the secretariat work on implementation. Thus, she added that “D.A Jawo is not mandated to involve into secretariat work.”

Reacting to the view that some members of the Centre had rival victims organisations that are competing with the Centre for funds, she said: “That is incorrect.  Out of nine board members of Victims Centre, only two have and lead victim organisations; that is myself as executive secretary for ANEKED and Muhammed Solo Sandeng, executive secretary for Solo Sandeng Foundation.

Both organisations “are partners to the Victims Centre and never compete” with the Centre for funding, she argued.