By: Kebba AF Touray
Famara Jallow, a former Regional Police Commissioner for URR, has recently appeared before the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee to testify about animal theft cases in the aforesaid region during his tenure.
Jallow told members of the Committee that he was posted to Basse on two occasions with the first one from 2003 to 2004 and the second one from 2016 to early 2018, after the political impasse. He told members of the Commission that his task as former Regional Police Commissioner was mainly to tackle rampant cases of robbery and cattle theft in URR.
Asked whether his intervention paid dividend to stop the robbery and cattle theft in the Region, Jallow responded in the affirmative. He said he succeeded in stopping cattle theft completely and minimized robbery.
Jallow narrated how he negotiated with his Senegalese counterparts in Tamba Kunda in Senegal and successfully recovered over 40 small ruminants as a mark of his success.
He was however informed that the reason he was called to appear was for him to shed light on information that the Committee received regarding ruminant and cattle theft in Sutukoba, which he was involved in when he was regional Commissioner. It was also put to him that there was a cattle theft that involved a motorcycle that was recovered by the people of Sutukoba after the suspect threw it away and escaped, but he as Regional Commissioner, went to Sutukoba and put pressure on the community to hand over the alleged motorcycle, which was eventually released to him, because of a strong promise he gave to the people; and that because of the trust that the community had on him and handed over the said bike, nothing has been done about it since.
Former regional Commissioner Jallow confirmed that the villagers did not trust the Sare Ngai Police and refused to hand over the bike to them; that when he came to know this, he went to the village purposely to calm tensions due to the issue of the motorcycle and asked them to give it to him because that was the material evidence they could use as an exhibit in Court.
‘‘The accused person was not known and I handed over the case to the Station Officer of the Police Station to keep the motorcycle, record the complaint in the station diary and give the complainant a diary reference number in case the alleged thief is caught and brought to Court. However, I was transferred within a month and this was in early 2018,’’ he said.
Asked whether he had tried to enquire why the community did not trust the Police at Sare Ngai station to the extent that they refused to hand over the motorcycle to them, Jallow responded that he does not know.
Asked whether he has listened to the testimony of Omar Darboe, Jallow responded in the negative, saying he does not watch television. He was asked if he would be surprised to learn that Amadou Gagigo told the Committee that he indeed dished out meat at his own volition to the Police and that both Sare Ngai Police and Darboe accepted that Gagigo indeed gave them meat.
Jallow said if they received meat, that is their problem but for him, he did not accept the gift because it was not right. He said his residence was more than a kilometer away from the Station and had nothing to do with butchers.
Asked whether he will not accept that he had made a slight error of not focusing his mind on the lack of trust from members of the community of the area, Jallow said he did not but tried to calm them to obey the law and to take the motorcycle from them. He was reminded that his failure not to enquire about the mistrust of the members of the community and the fact that the officer being queried was left to operate and connive with the ringleader of the thieves in the area, the problem of cattle theft persists up to this day, Jallow said the following:
“There are things that I can do but there are things that I cannot do. The officer in question was at Bakadagi in Jimara and had a problem with one Sowe, who is the MP for the area. I recommended his transfer out of URR but the authority decided to transfer him to Wuli.”
Asked if he can help the Committee with a diary reference number for their investigation or if he could remember the date since the Police are better placed to look for the reference number, Jallow said he cannot remember the date and that it will be difficult to help the Committee with the reference number, because the case took place some two to three years ago; that normally if a Police Station is busy, the police diary gets filled up every other week and will be changed.
“The best way would be for the Committee to request the diary reference number from the woman who owned the two dead sheep.”
It was put to the Jallow that the present Assistant Regional Commissioner in Basse said he does not know anything about this particular case and that the Committee should not ask him about the case since he cannot investigate him because he is his senior and only he can shed light on this issue to help the Committee.
Jallow said the truth is that Regional Commissioners do not keep exhibits; that only the Station Officer can help the Committee regarding the motorcycle since he is the one he handed over the bike to. Jallow further said the then SO Babucarr, has also retired and is presently seriously sick and cannot talk.
The Committee then asked him to help them with any useful information regarding the issue and they will call him anytime he is needed. He promised them that he will do his own investigation and will be available any time he is needed.