Police Arrest 8 Paramilitary Personnel on Allegation of Impersonation

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By Lamin Fatty

Eight (8) personnel working in the Police paramilitary unit renowned as the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) were arrested for their alleged involvement in collecting money from shopkeepers under the disguise of being members of a special task force against the use of plastic bags.

Impersonation here means assuming or acting as members of the task force while they are not part of an existing task force meant to tackle the use of plastic bags and enforce regulations on tobacco use. They deceived shopkeepers into believing that they are members of a task force and lure them into making payments to them as a means of settlement for their violations of the law banning the commercial use of bags and the law governing tobacco use in the country.

Many sources who spoke to this medium said the paramilitary personnel used to go around communities using motorcycles to collect money from shops with the claim that they were part of a special task force set up against the use of plastic bags and the selling of cigarettes.

The sources said the amount the culprits collected from each of their victims ranged from One Thousand Dalasi (D1, 000) to Five Thousand Dalasi (D5, 000). The amount depends on the agreement they agreed with their victims through a negotiation process.

Foroyaa came to know about this alleged illicit activity when they (the alleged impersonators) went to Sutukoba in Wulli East District and collected One Thousand Five Hundred Dalasi (D1, 500) from a shopkeeper in April 2024. This culminated in this reporter’s investigation with interviews conducted with some shopkeepers in other communities. The matter was reported to the Diabugu Police Station in Sandu District and then to Basse Police Station in Basse.

A police source informed Foroyaa that they arrested the eight (8) PIU personnel when they received the complaint from the affected businessmen.

“When the information reached the Basse Station, there was an investigation. Shopkeepers in the provinces of Basse complained about the officers impersonating members of a task force and collecting money from them. Preliminary investigation led to the arrest of 8 PIU officers on Friday, 3 May 2024. They are now helping the police in their investigation,” a source said.

The officers allegedly collected Eight Thousand Dalasi (D8,000) from two (2) shops in ChangallyLankaddy Village, Seven Thousand Dalasi (D7,000) from ChangallyChewdo Village, Five Thousand Dalasi (D5,000) from Dasilameh Village, Two Thousand Dalasi (D2,000) from a shop in Jakaba Village and One Thousand Dalasi (D1,000) from a shop in Misira Village. All these communities are located in Sandu District.

The shopkeepers in ChangallyLankaddy and Misira communities all confirmed that the paramilitary personnel took money from them.

Assistant Superintendent Modou Musa Sisawo, the Public Relations Officer of the Gambia Police Force confirmed the arrest of the culprits.

“I can confirm that there are some of our officers who were allegedly involved in such misconduct and right now they are all called to the police headquarters in Banjul for further investigation,” the Police PRO confirmed.