EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia Government is shocked over media access to classified information from the report of the Commission of Inquiry into financial dealings of exile former president Yahya Jammeh, his government, close associates and institutions.
Top senior government officials at the news conference where the Janneh Commission report was released, wore fuming faces on what they referred to as the unfortunate ‘leakages’ of government documents by the very civil service that swore to oath of secrecy.
There was no mention of media whom the report might have been leaked to, although clear quotations from it were contained in several stories featured on different online platforms including Kerr Fatou online television, on Thursday night.
Government Spokesperson Ebrima G Sankareh said he had ‘sleepless night’ following publication of parts of the report by the media on the eve of government’s plan to release the document which, until Friday morning was concealed to even ministers in the country.
“It is quite shocking to say the least that the document; the report we are about to unveil has actually been significantly leaked to the online press corps,” Mr. Sankareh said, and added; “and last night, I had a sleepless night as I saw allegations and counter allegations from different parties asking questions as to who may have actually leaked this document that everybody was waiting for.”
He expressed disappointment in any civil servant who had leaked the now no more classified document, saying, “it is quite unfortunate that we have men and women in the civil service who are bent on actually leaking every document before they are even due for public view.”
Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service Muhammed BS Jallow defended the government, saying it had no earlier plan to withhold the report, but it was proper for the dissemination to follow official customaries. “I think everybody agree that this government is very open as far as information is concerned. But I think at the same time, we have to understand that there are certain things which may have some security risks when the state is involved,” he said.
He added that even in advanced democracies, “certain thing can be available to the public immediately, [but] other things will have to be available after certain considerations.”
President of The Gambia Press Union, Sheriff Bojang Jnr clarified that publication of the leaked information is something journalists will continue to celebrate, as far as it is not obtained through fraudulent means.
“If there are documents in a situation like this, it is not a crime to publish them. We celebrate this, as it happens all over the world,” Mr. Bojang said.
The commission report indicted former president Jammeh together with his close associates on accounts of financial mismanagement during his time in power. Over one hundred million dalasi and properties worth one billion dalasi are being recovered from him as per recommendation in the government’s white paper on the report.