9 January 2013

Gambia: More Express Concern On Imam Baba Leigh's Detention

The Imam of Kanifing East Estate Baba Leigh has been held incommunicado against his will for more than four weeks now without access to family, lawyers and friends. The most disturbing thing about his detention is that no one knows his whereabouts including his relatives. This has compelled Foroyaa to conduct interviews with diverse members of the general public to seek their opinion on the matter. It is hoped that the public opinion on the issue would eventually encourage the State to make efforts to look for the missing Imam and release him from his captors to reunite with his family.

Speaking to Foroyaa, one Papa Saine of Wellingara described the incident as unfortunate in a country that calls itself a democracy. He said it is illegal to arrest a person for more than 72 hours without taking him or her before a law court or grant the person bail, adding that the Imam was reported to have been arrested by officials from the NIA which is a state institution. "The arrest and continued detention of the Imam has really scared me and that this kind of treatment is a real threat to the security of the people because if anyone can just come and pick you up and detain you against your wishes without the state saying or doing anything about it is a real cause for concern", said Papa.

He said this is a violation of the human rights of Imam Baba Leigh and called on the government to act.

He said if a citizen could be arrested without your family having access to you and be kept in an unknown place for a long period, this could cause a lot of speculations about the person's fate, adding that this is what has exactly happened in the case of the Kanifing Estate Imam. He said all sorts of things are being said about the Imam which may be emotionally and psychologically torturous to his immediate family e.g. the children and wives.

Fatou Jatta, a market woman, said she came to know about the plight of the Imam very lately as she was informed by the woman she shares a stall with. She said she is even afraid to say what she was told about the fate of the Imam. "I heard that he was tortured to death. Is he still alive?" she asked the Foroyaa Reporter.

She called on the State to investigate the matter and come out with a statement to calm the nerves and dispel the fears.

She concluded that she is praying for the Imam and his family.

Mass Kah, a resident of Serekunda, called on everybody to join hands and appeal to the state to search for and release the Imam of the Kanifing Estate Mosque. He insisted that it is the duty of the State to protect the lives and properties of the citizens at all times and that the life and liberty of the Imam must also be protected and guaranteed.

He therefore called on the authorities to intervene and end the speculations and anxieties being generated by the disappearance of Imam Baba Leigh.

Muhammed Jallow suggested for the family to take the lead in filing for a court action to compel the state security institutions to explain what they know about the whereabouts of the Imam.

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