Monday, July 22, 2024

Environment Minister Denies Involvement in Illegal Timber Trade, Threatens Legal Action Against Alkamba Times Reporter

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By: Dawda Baldeh

The Minister for Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources, Rohey John Manjang, has denied allegations of her involvement in illegal timber trade and threatened legal action against the Alkamba Times reporter.

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On June 19, 2024, the Alkamba Times published a report titled “Environment Minister, Former LRR Governor Accused of Involvement in Illegal Transactions of Seized Logs.”

The story read: “An inquiry by TAT has uncovered signs of corruption and significant participation by the Minister of Environment, Rohey John Manjang, and the ex-governor of the Lower River Region, Seedy Lamin Bah, after they were implicated in disposing of remnants from an illegally cut mahogany tree in Kaif Village, Kiang East District.”

Reacting to this report, the Environment Minister expressed her disappointment and described it as false.

“For Kebba Ansu Manneh’s allegations, I have consulted my legal team for the necessary measures,” she said.

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“I want to categorically state that these allegations are baseless fabrications aimed at distracting us from the ongoing investigation into the dubious deals involving some of my officers and illegal timber dealers in the Lower River Region and other regions of the country.

It is disheartening to see such attempts to undermine the efforts we are making to ensure accountability and transparency within our ministry,” she said in a statement.

Minister Manjang clarified that her Permanent Secretary received a text message from Kebba Ansu Manneh on June 16, 2024, but did not respond until June 18 when he resumed work.

“Knowing that the issue was a fabrication, and because we were on an important festive holiday, he did not respond to the query, nor did he forward it to me until we returned to work on June 18, 2024.

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Upon receiving the text, I requested that my PS invite Mr. Manneh, as I advocate for balanced reporting, but unfortunately, Mr. Manneh claimed to be in Kaur, and he was called and put on speaker,” she claimed.

However, Minister Manjang alleged that the reporter made unsubstantiated claims against her regarding the attempted sale of illegally felled mahogany trees and stated that an amount had been paid to her account, which she categorically refuted.

“I further asked him to do his work better and make sure he gets proof of his allegations, but he maintained that he received it from reliable sources.

Due to the ongoing investigation, I will not delve much into the issue, apart from assuring every sincere Gambian that, in shaa Allah, I will continue to serve the public interest in the purest possible spirit of integrity, commitment, and duty-driven dedication,” she emphasized.

She further reassured everyone that she has never engaged in unethical activities like purchasing or selling timber in any way that serves her interests.

“My focus is to combat criminals by obstructing their timber trade routes to safeguard our severely exploited and rapidly disappearing forests, which I will never relent in doing,” she noted.

She vowed to continue her fight to end all illegal timber logging and safeguard the environment.

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