•Falana blasts Gambian leader
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari would tomorrow lead a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to The Gambia to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to hand over peacefully to Adama Barrow, winner of the December 1, 2016 presidential election.
This is even as the leaders have condemned the clampdown on the media in that country.
President Jammeh has been widely condemned for the arbitrary closure of three radio stations by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a few days before Barrow was due to take office if he finally decides to surrender power peacefully.
Two private radio stations, Hilltop Radio and Afri Radio, were forced to go off the air without explanation, shortly after Taranga FM was shut down.
Briefing newsmen after a three-hour meeting attended by the Liberian President and the chair of the ECOWAS authority, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Senegalese President Macky Sall and immediate past President of Ghana, John Mahama, who is the co-mediator in resolving The Gambia’s political impasse, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, who read out the communique of the meeting said the leaders who deliberated on the current state of affairs in The Gambia and shared views on the way forward, also agreed to respect its Constitution.
The communique stated that the leaders “agreed on the determination to resolve The Gambian political crisis in a manner that every step of the way conforms with the constitution of The Gambia and respect the will of the people of The Gambia.
“They expressed particular concern at the deteriorating situation that has been reported in respect of security in The Gambia in particular, the closure of some of the radio stations and media and house arrest that have been taking place and also the refugee situation that is being created with the mass exodus of a large number of people to the interior and to neighbouring countries.
“In view of this, the meeting agreed that a certain number of Presidents will visit in two days time, President Jammeh in The Gambia and that again will comprise the mediator, President Buhari together with the President of Liberia and hopefully, the President of Sierra-Leone and the co-mediator the former President of Ghana (John Mahamma) as well as the President of the ECOWAS commission, the Special Representatives of United Nations and also a representative of the African Union. So, this meeting will take place in two days time on Wednesday (tomorrow) to discuss with President Jammeh on the need for the imperative of the Constitution.”
Also present at the meeting were the Presidents of the ECOWAS commission and also the Special Representatives of the United Nations Secretary General, who is the Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.
Reacting to Jammeh’s sit tight policy, Lagos lawyer and activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said he was following in the footsteps of other ECOWAS.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana said Buhari and Mahama lacked the moral right to ask Jammeh to hand over because they ignored rulings handed down by the ECOWAS Court last year.
Mr. Jammeh, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994, suffered a surprise defeat by Barrow.
After initially accepting defeat, The Gambian leader, who had ruled the country with an iron fist, reversed his position and called for fresh election.
But Mr. Jammeh has sworn not to hand over power or quit.
“While urging President Jammeh to hand over power peacefully and allow the Supreme Court of The Gambia to determine his election petition in line with the Rule of Law, we call on both Nigeria and Ghana to also respect the Rule of Law by complying with the judgments handed down last year by the Community Court of Justice which indicted them for the abuse of the human rights of two community citizens,” said Falana.
“In the case of Obioma Ogukwe v Republic of Ghana, the ECOWAS Court ordered the defendant to pay the sum of $250,000 to the plaintiff as reparation over the failure to investigate and bring to book those who caused the death of his 15-year old son by drowning on October 15, 2013, at Tema, in Ghana.
“The judgment which was delivered on June 17, 2016, was disobeyed by the Mahama administration without any justification.
“In the case of Col Sambo Dasuki vs Federal Republic of Nigeria the ECOWAS Court ordered the defendant to admit the plaintiff to bail pending the determination of the criminal cases pending against him at the Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court.