Police Raid Jammeh’s No To Alliance Meeting

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By Nelson Manneh

The Police Intervention Unit (PIU) on Sunday raided and disrupted a meeting organised by the renegade faction of the APRC (Yaya Tamba led-faction), and released tear gas on them.

The organisers claimed they were issued police permit to conduct their event, but they (the police force) later descended on the gathering and disrupted the event. Organizers said it was meant to be a fund raising event.

Nine (9) people were taken to hospital after police raided the political meeting held in Tallinding, Yahya Tamba said.

The No to Alliance Movement members are deserters of the former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), which challenged the alliance between the former ruling party and the ruling National People’s Party (NPP).

In a news conference held on 19 February 2024, the Chairperson of the group said 9 people were rushed to hospital following a paramilitary raid on their political meeting, who used teargas canisters. Tamba said 20 of his members were arrested and detained briefly before they were released on bail by the police.

The leadership of the faction has expressed disappointment with the police force and demanded justice.

Tamba said they requested police permit for the meeting on 31 December 2023 and obtained it on 2 January 2024 from Bundung Police Station.

“This permit was given to our members for them to go on with the program. On the very day of the program, at the eleventh hour the police decided to verbally revoke the permit and brutally dealt with our people on the ground. Some are wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment,” Tamba said.

“18th February is a historic day in the Gambia as it marks the liberation of this country. So, in commemoration of this day, we decided that we are going to organise a fund raising activity and we did all what is required of us by law before the programme,” he added.

Tamba claimed that during the event, they did not display any party’s logo or colour. He added that the police had no genuine reason to revoke the bail.

Honourable Omar Colley of Abuko Ward, said he spearheaded the event. He contested for the parliamentary elections in his constituency but did not win and subsequently contested in the local government elections and won.

“After the elections, I discussed with my people that on the 18th of February 2024 that we are going to organise a social fund raising activity where we are going to raise funds and prepare ourselves for the upcoming election cycle,” he said.

Colley said he followed due process of law by applying for permit from the Inspector General of Police, which was granted. He explained that on the D-Day, he was invited to Bundung Police Station for verification of the permit and he complied. He said one Gas Sabally, the Station Commander confirmed that she was the very one who issued the permit to them. He added that while he was at Bundung Station, the police had already sent a team to raid Tallinding and demanded the people to disperse.

“The police went there and asked our people to leave before the people realised what was going on, the police began throwing teargas at them,” Councillor Colley said.

He added: “We followed due process and there is no way that the police should act that way. They have violated our rights and wounded some of our members.”

Almami Gibba, the National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala, said their faction is a peaceful group which does not engage in activities to destabilise the country. He added that they obtained police permit and there was no reason for the police to do what they did to them.

“The police have no right to come and release teargas on unarmed Gambians who went to grace the occasion,” he said.

He stated that the member for Foni Jarrol, Kebba Tumanding Sanneh, approached the police to talk to them, but the police released tear gas on him.

“Some of our people were arrested and taken to the Denton Bridge. We have to stand on our toes to make sure that they were released with immediate effect. The police have no right to teargas an honourable member who identified himself to them,” he said.

Kebba Toumanding Sanneh, the National Assembly Member for Foni Jarrol, said he only went to the ground to negotiate with the police. He explained that he had identified himself to the police, but they refused to listen to him and released teargas on him.

“I will never let go. I will make sure that we get justice. The damages caused and all the losses must be paid for,” he said.

Honourable Sanneh said the Assembly has called the Inspector General of Police to a meeting to be held today. He stated that they might resort to instituting court action against the Police to make sure justice takes its course.