The Secretary General and party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has accused the Gambia Police Force of targeting his party militants.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said the police are being used as a tool by UDP’s political opponents to intimidate the party members.
The political leader took time to criticise the police for the insidious practice of intimidation and coercion.
Lawyer Darboe held a press conference on Saturday, 16 September 2023, a day after two (2) of his party members were arrested and detained. He said the engagement with the press was about the arrest of his party members – Momodou Sabally, UDP’s National Campaign Manager and Sheriffo Sonko, a nominated councillor of Brikama Area Council.
“It is the political opponents of the UDP, who are using the police for their political agenda [and] political purpose,” Darboe said.
Darboe said Sabally’s comment was made on or about 7 September. However, a search on his Facebook timeline indicated that the post was made on 8 September. Darboe said if the police cared or felt that there was an offence, they would have arrested him around that time.
The veteran politician said Sabally’s comment relates to police brutality. Darboe said the police brutalities are evident citing the recent incident of PIU personnel harassing and beating of UDP supporters, who went to the Kairaba Police Station.
“There was a lady, Aja Binta Jabbie, she was manhandled,” Darboe said.
“The police brutalise the people. They do so. What is the crime? What provision of the law has been violated?” Darboe said.
He said under the Jammeh’s regime, his party had encounters with security personnel and that trend continues under the current regime.
On the arrest of Sheriffo Sonko, Darboe said he was arrested and separated from Momodou Sabally.
“All what used to happen in Jammeh’s era we are having them now,” he said.
Darboe said this is possible because the heads of the security units now were the same security heads under Jammeh’s regime. He added that they still hold the same mentality as it used to happen under Jammeh’s rule.
“The arrest of Momodou Sabally was not done to enforce any provision of the Criminal Code. It was not an arrest done in good faith,” Darboe said.
Darboe said there is evidence to support Sabally’s claim that the PIU headed by Pateh Jallow are used to brutalise the people. He added that a lady, Fatou Mboge, was arrested by his residence and brutalised by the PIU.
“It is time the PIU cleanses itself,” Darboe said.
He called on the PIU to engage in reputational building and stop carrying on things that will continue to stain their reputation.
“This is a politically motivated arrest intended to silence Momodou Sabally,” Darboe said.
“The PIU has established a bad name for itself,” Darboe said.
Meanwhile, the police issued a press release concerning Sabally. Below is the full press release.
“INVITATION OF MOMODOU SABALLY FOR QUESTIONING
The Gambia Police Force has extended an invitation to Mr. Momodou Sabally for questioning regarding comments he posted on his Facebook page in the days preceding the regrettable incident that resulted in the tragic loss of two police officers and the hospitalization of another in critical condition.
Mr. Sabally is actively cooperating with the police during the investigation.
The Gambia Police Force reminds the public that Mr. Sabally’s invitation aligns with standard investigative procedures and underscores our commitment to upholding the rule of law.”