By: Kebba AF Touray
The Interior Minister, Yankuba Sonko, has admitted to the public petitions committee of the national assembly that there is inaction on the side of the police in taking appropriate action in dealing with cattle theft cases in Wuli East.
Minister Sonko admitted this on Tuesday 13th July 2021, during an appearance before the said committee to give his knowledge on the alleged cattle theft cases in the area and the alleged inability of the Police to take appropriate action to curb the practice and to enforce the GLMA Act.
Minister Sonko also told the committee that cattle rustling happen in every part of the county since the time he was serving as the Inspector General of Police. He said they had a series of complaints of cattle rustling and he sponsored engines of some vehicles to facilitate the mobility of the police officers, with the objective of addressing the practice.
He said cattle rustling in Wuli is a concern and that sometime in 2020, they received the first petition on the issue from Chief Sorry Juwara, upon which he invited the Permanent Secretary to call the police and that he called the then IGP and tell the concern to him.
He said: “The concern continues and I again instructed the Permanent Secretary to send a reminder to the IGP and that was probably after six weeks, but there was no respond from them. And this time around, we asked them to investigate because there are lots of allegations made in that petition against individual police officers.”
He said the report was not forthcoming and he personally called the then IGP to do something about it, adding that he has not received any report, but the then IGP told him they were still investigating the matter.
He said: “The then IGP also told me that he has received a petition from the governor regarding a particular senior officer at the area and then I know that it was getting more serious and I told the IGP to change the command”.
He said, subsequently, he was informed that Commissioner Darboe was finally removed from that place, but the trend still continued until 2021 when the Wuli East lawmaker, Suwaibou Touray, came to his office and had a brief meeting, after which he directed Touray to go to his Permanent Secretary.
He expressed his belief that that was the time his PS must have called the IGP for them to do something about the matter.
“Generally, I would say as stated in the petition from Wuli there is inaction definitely on the side of the police,” he said.
“Would you like to agree that the petitioners were right saying that the police were not cooperating in the efforts to address the practice?” the committee asked.
Minister Sonko said: “To be very frank, there is inaction on the part of the police because this is something that could have been solved. The whole set up should be changed at that time, but if you changed the command, it is only one person you have changed.”
He added: “The best thing was to move quite a number of officers from that location and replace them with fresh people who would at least have a neutral approach to the situation. But that was not done, so I will agree that there is inaction on the side of the police.”
Minister Sonko further told the committee that even the report they assigned for the Police to investigate, they have not yet received the it, even though they have been constantly calling the police, but stressed that some actions have been taken but the report itself has not reached his office as yet.
He said: “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and that the moment you have a responsibility, and if you have any doubt as per the law it is now your responsibility to search on the necessary provisions that will help you”.