Since the question of whether there is abuse in The Gambia or not is settled – no one is in any doubt as to the fact that The Gambia is the closest to being the North Korea of Africa than any other country in that part of world. Therefore, this story we are about to tell is by no means meant to confirm that fact, but rather, it is the ordeal of yet another victim whose rights are being blatantly violated right under our noses with absolutely no recourse available to him.
Abdou Gaye was born in Farafenni in 1983 where he also attended Primary School and Junior High School. He finished High School in Albreda, in Nuimi. Young, smart, vibrant, and full idealism, he would later become a Creative and Fine Artist – teaching Arts and Craft for 8 years, and according to a statement he signed at the Police Station in The Gambia, was also an expert journalist.
An avid Internet user – mostly conducting research, Abou’s troubles started when one day, he accidently browsed his way into the website of the White House where he saw an interesting policy document (a Presidential Memorandum) with the title “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation” according to the same statement with the Police. This document directs the Secretary of Commerce “working through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make 500 MHz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum available for wireless broadband use within 10 years.” According to (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/14/presidential-memorandum-expanding-americas-leadership-wireless-innovatio).
Being a well-meaning Gambian, with the believe that such a project can immensely improve wireless technology in the country, he decided to rewrite the document and send it to Yaya Jammeh hoping the President will consider implementing such a badly needed project. This will prove to be a big mistake, for unbeknownst to poor Abou, Yaya takes advice from no one and there is a reason Technocrats, Experts, smart young professionals, and Intellectuals have all deserted that country and settled in other places.
Upon receiving the document and the accompanying letter from Abou, Yaya immediately instructed the Minister of Trade, Energy and Information to have a meeting with Mr Gaye “no later than 10th instant and that the Hon. Minister of Trade to Chair the meeting and the Managing Directors of NAWEC and GAMTEL to attend.”
Abou went to the meeting thinking that he was there to discuss his proposal, so he was shocked to instead be confronted with accusations of plagiarism. Scared and realizing that he was in big trouble, Abou decided to apologize profusely to all them, admitting that he should have told the president the idea was not originally his. He left the building and went home feeling dejected and disappointed.
Yaya, after getting briefed about the meeting, dispatched an Executive Directive instructing the Prosecutor to charge, release on bail, and prosecute Abou Gaye with charges including “giving false information, plagiarism and theft of intellectual property rights.”
The fact that Yaya is instructing the Prosecutor to “charge, release on bail, and prosecute” is very telling – such decisions are supposed to be at the prosecutor’s discretion, so with him ordering the Prosecutor to do this confirms what we knew all along to be Yaya’s influence on our justice system. First, there was no investigation by the Prosecutor. Second, there is yet to be any probable cause since just copying an idea that is not patented is no crime anywhere. Third, the fact that this young man was only doing this to help his country develop in an area that seriously needs the improvement should have been enough reason to limit the reprimand this young man gets to the admonishment he already received from the Ministers who didn’t know any better. Fourth, if any law was broken here, this kid in his zeal to help his country could not see that, and his unfamiliarity with copy rights laws should all be mitigating factors to let this matter slide. Wasting State resources on a frivolous case like this, against a promising young man, shows the callousness of Yaya and his regime.
Abou in the meantime is left to fend for himself, worried about his fate, and just wishing that a judge will find it in his/her heart to throw this case out. The sad fact is; since Yaya is already giving directives, he (Abou) can only wish because there is no hope.
Below we produce letters from The Presidency and the ministry of Interior as well as Abdou’s cautionary statement.