By Mustapha Jallow
Yassin Badjie, widow of late Fakebba Colley who died in police told Foroyaa at her residence in Bundung that she would sue the police following the death of her husband in police custody.
“I will not leave the matter like that because it is painful. I will also sue the police for the inhumane manner they treated to him. I will sue them to ensure justice is served for my husband. He died in police custody because my husband was physically well. He had never complained of a sickness. I therefore, urge the Gambia Government to investigate the matter and establish the truth so that those responsible would be held accountable,’’ said Yassin Badjie, who had married her late husband for 12-years.
The family told Foroyaa they are patiently waiting for the outcome of the autopsy report to know the cause of the death. However, they said they will fight to ensure justice is served on them for the untimely death of Colley.
Colley, a 40-year-old man was allegedly put in a police cell at the Sukuta Station. The circumstance of his detention, according to our source, was that late Colley and his wife went to report a theft or burglary case. Late Colley was detained as he was suspected by the police.
Foroyaa did not know the cause of his untimely death. Many people came to show sympathy with the family of the Late Colley. People were talking about the perceived injustice Late Colley went through in the hands of the police.
Narrating how it all started, 30-year-old Yassin Badjie said her sister (Ida Badjie) bought a compound from Dalaba Estate and it was under-construction. She added they bought building materials and stored them in the compound. She said some of the materials were purchased before the start of the Ramadan while the others were bought in the month of Ramadan. The materials, she continued, included tiles, sinks, cement, and white-cement. She said her husband brought a watchman to be securing the materials but the watchman later travelled.
“Since the watchman travelled, my husband had no other option but to be visiting the compound, so that the materials would be safe,” she said.
She narrated that on Friday (5th August) she received a call from one of her sisters informing her that a worker went to the compound in order to take out some materials from the store to continue the work but he did not see anything in the store.
Badjie said she received the news of the alleged theft around 9 pm, adding that was how he rushed with her late husband to the Sukuta Police Station. She explained that before going to the said station, they first went to the premises to see for themselves.
“On arrival at the police station, we found a policeman and a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer and reported the matter to them. We went with one of the officers to the scene, but to our surprise, the CID officer pointed to my husband as a suspect. The officer told me that my husband had hand in the matter. And my husband asked the officer, how can he steal and at the same time come and report the matter to the police. But the officer also insisted people do that at times- people would steal and come report to the police,’’ she explained.
Badjie further explained that her husband further told the CID Officer that he will leave his number at the police station so that anytime they finish their investigation they can call him and he will come and answer to them. She said the CID officer declined the proposal and insisted that her husband must be detained.
“My husband was later locked in a cell. My (husband) then requested to talk to me, the officer told me I should stand distance,” she said.
She explained that she went out to receive a telephone call. While outside, the CID Officer came and informed her that her husband fell down.
“A female officer asked me whether my husband used to fall, I told her my husband never had of such sickness since I got to know him and married for 12 good years. Then, the officers asked me to go and find a taxi. I was in a state of confusion because I did not what to do,” she said.
She said she got the taxi but the Police refused her to join the taxi. She added that she got another taxi and followed them to the health centre in Sukuta.
“When I arrived at the health-centre, I asked the officers where my husband is, they told me he is inside. I rushed inside, only to be told my husband is dead. I then started weeping. The Police later came and said the body will be transferred to Ndemban clinic,’’ narrated the widow.
“But I’ve the strong belief that my husband had died in the police cell,’’ she said, while weeping.
Meanwhile, Sulayman Jammeh, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Bundung Constituency, condemned the actions of the police officers and urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring the truth to the public.
“I really sympathize with the entire family for the unfortunate incident. As a friend to the deceased, the police should look into the matter thoroughly because their role and responsible is to safeguard lives and properties. There should be a thorough investigation to establish the truth,’’ he urged.
According to Jammeh, the saddest thing from the police was that no officer had come to sympathize with the wife and the family. Therefore, he appealed to the IGP to take up the matter with seriousness, so that the cause of death can be known to the public.
Landing Camara, the Officer-in-Charge of Sukuta Health Centre told Foroyaa that, “He [Fakebba Colley] was brought in here [at the Sukuta Health Centre] already dead. It was 10 minutes to 1 am, on the 6th August 2022. All the vital signs were nil (zero). That means there was no breathing. Blood pressure was taken but there were no signs of life. So, he (Colley) was not brought here alive,’’ Camara asserted.
The record dairy was shown to Foroyaa indicating that Colley’s lifeless body was brought into the health centre on Saturday, 6th August 2022, just 10 minutes to 1am.
Foroyaa contacted the police spokesperson Superintendent Lamin Njie but he wouldn’t pick the calls. We will continue to follow the matter closely.