In this edition, we share the story of Mr. Abdou A. Manneh, an alumnus of the University of The Gambia. Mr. Manneh did both his bachelor’s (LLB) and master’s (LLM) degrees in Law at the UTG.
At such a youthful age, Mr. Manneh is a well respected Superintendent in The Gambia Police Force (GPF) and has done a tremendous job in The Gambia’s Transitional Justice process.
HOW I CAME TO UTG
I enrolled at the Faculty of Law in September 2010. Prior to that, I was doing a Diploma-In -Law at the Gambia Technical Training Institute from 2008 to 2009. Most of my lecturers at G.T.T.I did their studies overseas and most of them spoke highly of the LLB curriculum at the UTG unlike others who were critical of the institution. Personally, I saw the opportunity of being taught by mostly Gambian lecturers who understand The Gambian environment, laws and the legal system. I also made a review of the LLB curriculums in other universities and I found the contents to be very similar. I was also motivated to study at the University of The Gambia because it was more affordable in terms of cost when compared to other countries and it was closer to where I live. And because at the time, I had a foundation in law, I found the University of The Gambia to be the right place to continue my legal education. If anything, one of the greatest developments that was registered in the Gambia since independence was the creation of the University of The Gambia because education is the cornerstone upon which the true realization of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development can be achieved.
MY TIME AT THE FACULTY OF LAW
My four years at the University of The Gambia were engaging and impactful. During my undergraduate studies, I was actively involved in student politics at the level of the Law Faculty from being Secretary General of the Law Students Association to President of the Law Students Debate and Advocacy Association. Among the very many engagements, I initiated and served as the first president of the Law Students Debate and Advocacy Association. During my first year, I observed that the Law Faculty were eliminated at the first round of the University Debate Championship by the School of ICT. I was not pleased with that because I thought that law students should take a leading role in debates. I saw a lacuna of leadership and I thought I had to do something about it. The following year, I led a team of University of The Gambia students to establish the Debate and Advocacy Association which served as a platform for the involvement of students at both national and international debates and moot court competitions. Some of the students my team and I mentored excelled to compete at the All-Africa Moot and Philip Jessup Moot competitions respectively. In the area of debate, since 2011, the faculty always made it to the finals if not winning the championship in both the oral and paper presentations.
Moreover, I have also served as Secretary General of the Law Students Association under the Faculty of Law. During this period, I was able to bring the concerns of the general students’ body to the executive of the Association. Consequent upon this, the Association was able to provide students with vital services such as mentorship, a guidance Centre for new students, internship programs, community radio programs on legal awareness, public lectures and award of prizes to outstanding students. During my tenure, the Association organized the now annual ‘Law Day’ which enabled students, lecturers, law enforcement institutions, civil society organizations and members of the judiciary to come together and share ideas on access to justice, the rule of law in relation to our justice system among others. I represented the Faculty at a research paper presentation at the University, where I had the opportunity to compete with other students of the University. I also contributed a chapter on the happenings of the Law Students Association to the magazine of the International Law Students Association and this gave me the opportunity to be the Deputy Editor-In-Chief of the University of The Gambia Students Union Magazine. Due to my efforts in improving the experience of the students of the University, I was voted as the ‘Best Law Student’ in my class by the Law Students Association in 2013.
MY DOUBLE MASTERS
In August, 2014, I proceeded to the Gambia Law School where I did my Bar Professional Course to practice Law (B.L) with other colleagues from the UTG, other Universities within Africa and the United Kingdom. I later joined the Gambia Police where I had a scholarship to do Masters in Security Management (MSc) at the Institute for Security Sciences, Turkish National Police Academy. When I returned, I served at the Prosecutions and Legal Affairs Office and I was part of the drafting team which drafted the current strategic plan for the Gambia Police Force and the first National Security Policy at the Office of the National Security Adviser. During this period, I also got enrolled into another Masters programme in Law (LLM) at the University of The Gambia which I completed in 2020. I must say that the education and experience I gained at the University of The Gambia served as a basis for my academic progression.
HOW UTG SHAPED MY CAREER
In September 2018, as Police Superintendent I represented the Gambia Police Force at the Technical Committee on Transitional where I had the opportunity to be seconded to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission as an Investigator. I currently work as Director for Research for the Commission where I lead investigative activities into human rights violations, including acts of torture, unlawful killings, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances of persons, inhumane and degrading treatment. I lead a team of over forty (40) people comprising statement takers, researchers and investigators, and most of them are UTG students and graduates. My education at the University of The Gambia both at undergraduate and post-graduate studies gave me the necessary professional competence, research and leadership skills to effectively and efficiently execute my duties.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS
Students should be prepared to learn as much as possible both academically and socially. It is also a good opportunity to be involved in extra-curricular activities and student union activities because they act on behalf of and for the interest of students. As a center where people from different backgrounds and expertise converge, it is important for students of the University to network to enhance their life opportunities.