BY KEBBA MAMBURAY
The former Inspector General of Police Landing Kinteh, on Friday July 27th 2018, testified before the Faraba Banta Commission. Chaired by Emmanuel Joof. In his testimony, the former IGP said he tendered his resignation willingly; that he dealt with the ‘Julakay’ issue upon receiving a complaint from the proprietor about mining at Faraba Banta; that this was a verbal complaint that was followed by a formal one dated 31st October 2017. The former IGP said after receiving the formal letter of complaint from ‘Julakay’, he called the Police Commissioner of operations Landing Bojang, and instructed him to address the issue; that ‘Julakay’ also made a follow up by sending a team to visit the site; that afterwards, they decided to engage the community and gave a report that youth of Faraba are insisting that sand mining will not take place in the village by confrontating workers of ‘Julakay’ Company. Kinteh said a skeletal deployment of Officers was done and that this consisted of some Uniform Police Officers and others in mufti. According to the Former IGP, this was to provide security for both the community of Faraba Banta, and workers of ‘Julakay’ Company; that the PIU is the armed wing of the Police Force and were deployed to Faraba Banta, to ensure that ‘Julakay’ Company continues operations without obstruction.
Kinteh further testified that his subordinate who is the current IGP, had a meeting with the VDC and some of the villagers in his office in Banjul, regarding Julakay Company’s mining; that a lot of unfounded rumour spread that the elders of Faraba Banta sold most part of their lands to ‘Julakay’ Company; but that he cannot confirm the information that Julakay obtained his license fraudulently.
Kinteh said after a few days, he had a meeting with all the stakeholders of the Faraba Banta issue including Ansumana Marena himself, the proprietor of Jualkay Company; that he gave audience to Marena who he went through all the necessary channels to acquire his license, but found it difficult to operate because he is having issues with the villagers; that the youth block their way and some of his workers do not show up because they have been threatened.
Kinteh said during audience with the stakeholders, the Alkalo debunked Marena’s allegations and said the village was not consulted about ‘Julakay’s mining operations; that the Alkalo was able to highlight some of the meetings ‘Julakay had with the villagers, where they consented to many agreements between the village and ‘Julakay’; that Jung Conteh also buttressed what the Alkalo said.
Kinteh said the VDC also spoke through Alhagie Sanyang, who denied the allegation that Julakay was conducting illegal sand mining; that the main concern of the VDC is the access road Julakay was constructing; that because it was encroaching on people’s properties who were not been compensated; that Sanyang lamented on the environmental effect the sand mining activity will cause to the village.
Kinteh said the PS at the Ministry of Local Government and Lands told Sanyang that all the people affected should consult his Ministry; that all compensation will be done and the money would be used on any environmental damage caused; that the villagers were told that Julakay should proceed with his mining operations, at the end of the stakeholder gathering.
The former IGP said he told the VDC that they will investigate the matter and see how they could settle issues amicably; but that he could see some reluctance among members of the VDC after the meeting, because they did not look happy.
On the incident of the 18th of June 2018, the former IGP said he was supposed to travel on that day, but was informed that there was an incident at Faraba Banta, but they deployed a team to handle the situation; that he later called by the Director of SIS who asked whether he was aware of deaths at the scene of the incident; that after communicating with some of his men on the ground, he redeploy another back up reinforcement to help them because they were overwhelmed by rioters; that before the reinforcement arrived Faraba Banta, he ordered the retreat of the Officers to save their lives; that after hearing about the number of casualties, he ordered for the arrest of every armed PIU on the ground, which led to the arrest of the five Officers of the PIU, who went to Faraba Banta.
The former IGP said he tendered his resignation because he is interested in the peace of ‘this nation’; that he had seen the call for his sacking on social media platforms and tendered his resignation to add to the healing process, based on his personal will.
Sittings continue today.