19 December 2017

Gambia: Police Accused of Maltreatment, Detention

Residents of Sukuta Coastal Layout called Bahamas, have alleged that officers from the Gambia Police Force on Friday 15th December 2017, maltreated some of their inhabitants and held them in custody against their will.

The residents made this medium following the alleged arrest and detention of six residents of Sukuta Bahamas in the names of Yankuba Fatty, Bully Siady, Alfusainey Saidy, Musa Jallow, Ebrima Mballow and Muhammed Mballow.

Reana Mendy, a resident of the area, said some individuals conspired amongst themselves to sell part of the main road of Sukuta Bahamas that went inside the community; that if this part of the road is sold, it will seriously affect the movement of persons and cars as well as affect the school that is just nearby. According to her and many of the residents who spoke to this reporter, the persons who conspired to sell the land include the son of the Sukuta Alkalo.

Mendy said these people came to the community (Bahamas) with a caterpillar, fell down trees and dumped them on the road, causing a roadblock; that thereafter, the residents push the logs aside to enable the people to use the road again. Mendy said some officers from the Gambia Police Force (GPF), came to them around the hours of 2 am and arrested some people from their community; that the officers waited for this ungodly hour to knock at people's doors, forcefully arrest them and put cuffs on them; that some of the arrestees sustained injuries such as bleeding and swollen heads in the process of the arrest.

Following the arrest, Mendy said the residents of the Community of Sukuta Bahamas went to the Brusubi Police Station but were referred to Sukuta Police Station; that at the Sukuta Police Post, they were notified that the matter is not in their purview and were referred back to Brusubi Police Station.

Yankuba Fatty, one of the detainees said he spent the night of Friday 15th December 2017, in a police cell at the Brusubi Police Station; that during the night of his arrest (Friday), as he was coming home, he found a pickup and was stopped; that he was asked his names and he told them; that he was told by the people who stopped him that he was needed at the Brusubi Police Station with immediate effect.

He said at the time of his arrest, the police were with Abdoulie Ceesay. He added Abdoulie Ceesay is an agent of Pa Cham, the son of the Sukuta Alkalo.

He said the problem began since the 12th of December 2017, when the Community realised that there was a caterpillar felling trees and blocking the road and that as concerned citizens, "we consulted one another to know the reason why the trees were cut down, before acting. We realised that these people were doing this for their own interest and we also realised that the son of the Sukuta Alkalo was the one behind it for his own interest", he told this reporter. "Pa Cham (the son of the Sukuta Alkalo) has no right over us because we are tax payers and sovereign citizens. Even the Alkalo cannot sell this 'road' to anyone" he said.

Fatty said in the morning of 13th of December 2017, the residents came together and pushed the logs that the caterpillar left on the ground off from the high way; that on Friday 15th December 2017, the caterpillar returned and started felling the trees; that this was when they (the residents) intercepted it and asked the driver not to block their road; that there was a push and pull.

Fatty said at the Brusubi Police Station, they were charged with wilful damage to property and were not allowed to speak; that at the time their cautionary statements were taken from them, all of the arrestees were slapped and physically abused causing many of them to bleed. Ebrima Mballow, another of those arrested said the police forcefully entered his house and found him undressed in bed when he was about to sleep; that he was hit on his head by the officers, which led to bleeding. "They held my throat and asked me to stop shouting because it was late in the night, and I should not raise any alarm", he said.

Mballow said he almost fainted at some point because he did not know what was going on; that he thought armed robbers came to rob him. "I was taken by two police officers to Sukuta Health Center to acquire medication but they referred me to the Serrekunda General Hospital in Kanifing. I was hand cuffed to the Hospital and back", he said.

David Kujabi, the PRO of the Gambia Police force when contacted, refuted the allegations of torture, when this was put to him by this reporter, but confirmed the arrest. PRO Kujabi said the police received complaint from a person that his work on his land was disrupted by some individuals; that at the time this man was tabling the complaint, came another man with similar complaint; that as Police Officers, they have a duty to carry out and they carried their functions in accordance with the laws and arrested the men concerned; that they were never tortured and the one who refused arrest sustained injury and was taken care off by the Police.

He called on people to desist from unlawful activities in the society; that the Gambia Police Force is here for everyone and will continue to serve the interest of the State.

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