Violence characterize the arrest of Marakissa suspect

279

By Nelson Manneh 

Violence erupted in Marakissa Village as personnel of the Anti-Crime Unit descended on the area to arrest a suspect, used force to carry out their duties.

The incident has left the villagers quite worried. They complained of beatings administered on toddlers and grannies, break-ins, the use of tear gas and other forms of violent acts resulting to injuries in their attempt to arrest one Yahya Camara.

Residents of Camara Kunda in Marakissa village in the Kombo North District of the West Coast Region of the Gambia, on Friday, 24 May 2024 informed this medium that Agents of the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force raided their compound and arrested 7 people, allegedly assaulting several others.

The incident, according to eyewitnesses, happened on Thursday night at around 10 pm in the evening. 

Foroyaa visited the scene on Saturday and found out three damaged doors and one window. 

According to the residents, the three doors and window were damaged by officers of the Anti-Crime Unit after forcefully entering their houses during a raid, during which a twenty one-month-old baby’s leg was severely bruised. The individuals arrested during the raid include Lamin Camara, Ebrima Camara, Dawda Camara, Sherifo Dahaba, Seedy Sambou, Saikou Camara and Hatab Colley.

According to the mother of the toddler whose leg was bruised during the raid, the officers entered her house whilst she was alone, and beat her mercilessly together with her child, who was found crying with pain, when this reporter arrived. 

Ms Amie Camara, one of the residents of Camara Kunda in her narration, recalled that they had once rented a shop in their compound to one Ebrima Jallow and later asked him to vacate after having some issues with him. She added that Jallow left for a new location. According to Ms Camara, one of their brothers, Yahya (the suspect the police wanted to arrest), was a friend of Ebrima Jallow during his stay at the shop in their compound and continued to visit his friend the shopkeeper, at his new shop.

She added Ebrima claimed that Yahya stole his ‘nopal’ credit meant for sale by transferring it into his mobile phone (Yahya’s phone). According to her, he first claimed D1,900 but later said it was a mistake and the amount should have been D19,000 instead of D1,900. Her brother, she said, suggested going to the GSM Companies concerned and bring proof to justify his claim and he will settle him immediately. 

She alleged that Ebrima refused to bring any proof of evidence on his new claim to his brother, and instead reported the matter to one Assistant Superintendent Papa Kujabi of the Anti-Crime Unit.   

“Members of the Anti-Crime Unit led by ASP Kujabi came to our compound twice in search of my brother Yahya Camara, but did not meet him because he works and stays in Brikama,” she said. 

Ms Camara said on Thursday, 24 May 2024, Yahya visited them for the weekend, and upon his arrival. Ms Camara, in her narration, said whilst she was in her room, she heard the voice of Yahya Camara wailing and calling for help. 

“When I came out, I saw three people in plain clothes, mercilessly beating him. Some of my brothers also came out and went towards the three people asking them to stop beating him but they refused and continued to beat him,” Ms Camara said. 

She said some of their neighbours also came to the scene and asked the three people to stop beating Yahya. 

“At some point, Yahya escaped from their hands and ran away. When Yahya escaped, the three officers called for reinforcement, and after a few minutes, we saw three pickups trucks full of paramilitary officers who surrounded our compound and started to raid our houses indiscriminately,” Ms Camara said, adding that the officers broke several doors and one window and entered their houses and beat them indiscriminately. 

“We pleaded for them to stop what they were doing, and told them that we will make sure Yahya surrenders himself to the nearest Police station to no avail, as they continued to beat us,” she said. 

Madam Camara added that even her mother, a septuagenarian, was mercilessly beaten by the officers during their raid, including a one-year and nine-month-old child whose leg was seriously bruised during the incident.

“When they realized that many people were coming, they threw some tear gas canisters on them and threw several others in our compound and inside our houses. At some point they openly fired a gun to threaten us,” Ms Camara said.

Kaddy Camara, another eyewitness, said the Police insulted her when they entered her house and threatened to kill them if they did not keep quiet.

“They threatened us that if we make any noise, they will kill all of us and nothing will come out of it, as they continued to beat people randomly with their batons,” she said. 

She alleged that after the raids, they realised that some of their items had gone missing. 

The Camara Kunda family said they will seek justice as they are set to pursue the matter.

“We know how we were assaulted because what happened to us on that day was inhumane and we want justice to prevail between us and the Police officers who came to raid our compound,” Ms Camara told this medium.

When contacted to shed light on the matter that took place in Marakisa village between officers of the GPF and the residents of Camara Kunda, Police Spokesperson Cadet Assistant Superintendent Modou Musa Sisawo admitted that members of the Serious Crimes Unit of the GPF went to Camara Kunda in Marakissa village and arrested some individuals. He said the whole commotion came as a result of the resistance of the people of Camara Kunda, towards the arrest of one of their family members. 

“There was some resistance to the arrest of a family member and during the process, the police arrested some individuals,” Cadet ASP Sisawo said. 

He said the police who went to the scene did not go with teargas and therefore denied the claim that teargas was used by the officers while effecting arrest.  

“In fact during the process, four of our officers got injured, and we also have a clinic at the Anti-Crime Unit for anybody who is injured to be taken to that clinic,” he said. 

Cadet ASP Sisawo said this statement in response to the claim by some family members that their loved ones who were arrested were not given any medical attention.