By Amadou Manjang
The National Security Adviser Abubakarr Suleiman Jeng on Friday, 15 September informed the press that the suspect in the police shooting was a fighter for an armed group in the Casamance insurgency.
The Gambia Police Force organised a press briefing on Friday to update the media on the investigations. The National Security Adviser Abubacar S. Jeng and the Minister of Interior Siyaka Sonko were in attendance, and both made statements regarding the incident.
The fatal shooting incident happened at the Sukuta-Jabang traffic lights main junction on Tuesday, 12 September between 9 pm and 10 pm. The incident claimed the lives of two (2) policemen and caused serious injuries to another policewoman. The two dead police officers were Constable Pateh Jallow and Sang J. Gomez while Police Constable Nancy Jawo was hospitalised after sustaining a bullet injury.
Ousainou Bojang, a native of Brufut – Sanementereng Ward was arrested as the suspect. Ousainou Bojang is the main suspect in last Tuesday’s shooting of police officers.
National Security Adviser Jeng said six (6) more people were arrested in connection with the incident and were helping the police in their investigations. Jeng said the police are now focusing on establishing the motives behind the shooting that left two officers dead and one injured. The police declined to mention the names of the people arrested. However, they said none of the suspects were security personnel.
“He [OusainouBojang] is currently assisting the ongoing investigation, which has resulted in the arrest of others who are believed to be accomplices and or aided and abetted the alleged suspect,” he said.
According to the National Security Adviser, Bojang ‘was a member of a rebel group in Casamance.’
“He has fought in the Casamance insurgency,” Jeng said.
Jeng stated that the preliminary investigation of the police does not establish any relation or connection between Bojang and the victims. Jeng said Bojang was a security guard working for a local security company in the Gambia.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Momodou Sowe, said the boots and dress Bojang wore on the night of the shooting have been recovered. However, he said the gun that was used is yet to be recovered.
Sowe said the shooter had been in possession of the gun/pistol long before the shooting happened. He added that Bojang told the investigators that he was having the gun while attending the court hearing of Yankuba Darboe, Chairman of Brikama Area Council.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Momodou Sowe cautioned the media to exercise more professionalism in the way they handle news regarding cases of such nature. Sowe recalled that the demise of injured Nancy Jawo was announced over the media, which he described as bad and dangerous.
“WPC Nancy Jawo, a brave, determined, gallant, and very illustrious policewoman is recovering from her predicament. Unfortunately, there are reports circulating on social media that she has circumvented her injuries, which is definitely uncalled for, inhumane, and far from the truth. I would like to tell you as I am standing now, she [NancyJawo] is out of danger and recovering well and responding to treatment,” Sowe said.
He called on journalists to seek clarification from the police regarding matters that relate to security matters in the public interest.
“I have noticed with dismay that there is a lot of information going on in the media and they are not helpful. I think the source and the direction of all that information should have been transmitted to the police or the police are informed in order to harvest that information and eventually put them into perspective [and] put them into use to help the situation,” he said.
Sowe said most of the information that has been circulating in the media was not refined, adding that it could lead to a very chaotic situation.
“There are other reports that are circulating within the media, which are unrefined, unfounded, and unhealthy and desired to smear and intimidate, harass, or even to the extent of terrorising the society,” Sowe said.
In explaining how the alleged police shooter was caught, Sowe said they utilised the call traffic of the suspects to track him until his apprehension in Jululung, Casamance, Southern Senegal.
“We noticed a significant amount of telephone traffic from the suspect and a lot of callers between the hours of 18:00 to 21:00. [It was] a high volume of telephone traffic,” Deputy IG Sowe said.
He said significant telephone traffic of the suspect’s cell phone was noticed in Brusubi. A few hours later, DIG Sowe said a high volume of telephone traffic was recorded with the same signal between Siffoe and Dimbaya, and some moments later, the same signals were recorded at the Gambia-Senegal border.
“That means, from this point here the suspect has been moving, and finally his location was detected at the Senegalese territory and the signal was dead,” Sowe said.
He said at this point the protocols were applied to apprehend the suspect after his presence was noticed in Senegal.
“Most of you are aware that there is a five (5) kilometres radius hot-pursuit between the two countries. I invoked that hot pursuit through the Ministry of Interior,” Sowe said.
He said the suspect was apprehended and handed to the Gambia Police Force (GPF).
“We did not identify the suspect at the time, but through his own confessions we connected the dots and we suspected that he is the very suspect we are looking for,” he said.
He reported that 30 hours later the police had significant leads that implicated the suspect.
“From his own mouth, he said he has been in possession of a weapon for a very long time. This said weapon, he said was with him during the court sitting (sedition trial of Yankuba Darboe) in Banjul,” Sowe said.
DIG Sowe said the shirt and the boots of the suspect that he allegedly used in the operation were recovered.
“This is what we can share with the general public and to tell them that the investigation is oncourse, and to tell them that there are so many positive leads indicating the suspect was an accomplice or being the perpetrator of this horrendous crime,” Sowe said.
He explained the public would be duly informed on developments regarding the case. He reiterated his call for the media to contact the police for clarification regarding the saga before publishing.
National Security Adviser Jeng condemned the incident and described the fatal shooting incident as a terrific act, barbaric, cowardly and criminal, adding that the incident represented a heavy loss to the security sector of the Gambia.
He said the Government commissioned a panel to investigate the incident. In his explanation, he said the incident was reported by a taxi driver at the Sukuta Police Station. He added that the victims of the incident were escorted to the Sukuta Health Centre and later referred to Ndemban Clinic, where the two policemen were pronounced dead while the policewoman Nancy Jawo was further referred to the Edward Francis Small Hospital.
“A combined security and law enforcement manhunt were swiftly initiated for the capture of the assailant,” Jeng said.
He said a male civilian provided the police with information that led to the arrest of the suspect in Dioulouloung, Senegal on the following day.
Jeng described the suspect as an employee of a local security company in the Gambia.
“Ousainou Bojang is currently assisting the Police in the investigation, which resulted in the arrest of others – who were viewed to be accomplished or aided or abetted the suspect,” Jeng said.
He added: “So far, six (6) persons of interest are in police cells excluding the alleged suspect.”
Jeng stated that the investigators are focused on establishing whether it was an isolated incident or an act perpetrated by a group. He emphasised that the investigations are being carried out with strict adherence to due process and respect for the fundamental human rights of the detainees.
“This incident is considered a blatant attack on the peace and security of the country. No stone will be left unturned in bringing whoever is involved regardless of your status or affiliation to book,” Jeng said.
He promised that justice would be served in the case as the police have intensified their patrols.
When asked whether the alleged weapon had been recovered, the Deputy Inspector General of Police said the weapon had not been recovered yet. The police chief and the National Security Adviser both declined to mention the names of the arrestees. The National Security Adviser said none of the arrestees was a member of the security services.
“What we know is a pistol. What we also know is that the suspect has indicated to us that he acquired the weapon in Casamance. The suspect has indicated to us that he has not served in any of the security institutions but was a member of a rebel group in Casamance. He has informed us that he fought in the Casamance insurgency and this is where he acquired the weapon,” Jeng said.
“It will be dictated by events. It is not an event, but a process,” Jeng said, adding that there are no timelines.
He said the investigations will continue until such a time they are satisfied with what they are looking for.