Abdoulai G. Dibba
Today, 3 November, marks 195 days since the detention of Haruna Gassama, the President of the Rice Farmers’ Cooperative Ltd., at the Janjanbureh Central Prison in gross violation of the constitution which requires the person to be charged and taken before a court of law or be freed either conditionally or unconditionally within 72 hours.
Mr Gassama’s relatives, who spoke to this reporter on Tuesday, November 1, confirmed that he is still detained and that his family is not allowed visits.
Mr Gassama, who was first released on Thursday, 3 September, 2015 after having been held for 185 days incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, was re-arrested on Saturday 23 April 2016 after returning from his rice field.
As reported earlier, Haruna was re-arrested by plain clothes officers at around 1pm at his home in Dasilami and taken to the Brikamaba police station and later to Janjanbureh prison.
The family source noted that they do not know why Mr. Gassama was arrested and his motor bike taken away.
Mr. Gassama, who was elected unopposed as president at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the rice farmers’ cooperative held at the Brikamaba School ground on 5 January 2012, was arrested on the 2 March 2015, the very day when officials from the Sheriff Division of the high court came to Lower Fulladu District to execute the order of the judgment delivered on the 12 January 2015, in favour of the plaintiff, Mr. Gassama, and his newly elected committee and detained for 185 days without access to family members or lawyer.
“He was released on Thursday, 3 September, 2015, after having been held for 185 days incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, and re-arrested on Saturday, 23 April 2016, after returning from his rice field and since then, we do not have access to him,” said the family source.
Gassama’s detention is in violation of Section 19 Subsection (3)(b) of the constitution of the second republic which states that “Any person who is arrested or detained… who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours”.