David Colley/Freedom Newspaper Photo

David Colley/Freedom Newspaper Photo

The Gambia’s Director of Prisons has cheered President Yahya Jammeh’s prisoner release, saying it would reduce the government’s 1.5 million dalasi monthly allocated budget for Mile 2 Central Prisons.

David Colley described the 21st July 22 celebration during which President Jammeh announced granting amnesty to more than 200 prisoners as his celebration because it has brought for him a deep sigh of relief. “The government is spending 1.5 million every month for the feeding of prisoners, and that is too much,” Mr. Colley told journalists last week.

Mr. Colley puts the total number of pardoned prisoners at 229. They include 26 treason convicts, among them the former Chief of Defense Staff Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba. Also let go were the former Police Chief, Ensa Badjie and two former ministers of Presidential Affairs and Justice, Njogu Bah and Lamin Jobarteh, respectively.

Activists would not understand why President Jammeh pardoned high risked prisoners such as murderers, drug dealers and rapists and exclude prisoners of conscience. This is not the least expected of a President who said: “If I don’t forgive then am not a good leader….I forgive because my strength lies in my believe in the Almighty Allah. If we don’t forgive each other, then how would the Almighty Allah forgive me as a leader of this country?”

Most people wonder whether the impromptu nature of the prisoner release has given the government enough time to screen the pardoned prisoners some of whom could pose threat to the society. But the Prison Director is convinced that none of the released prisoners will be a threat to Gambians.

“The murder convicts that we released are reformed enough to go back to the society. We have examined them and went through their records, and they have repented,” he said, advising “all the prisoners to forget about their past, look forward into the future and amend the mistakes that they have made.”

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