By Omar Bah
Former Interior Minister has come to the defense of the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force by rejecting calls for it to be dissolved. The unit came under heavy criticism this week with its head Gorgi Mboob sent on administrative leave amid allegations that he tortured a detainee, one Ebrima Sanneh which he denied.
Yesterday, Mai Fatty, the leader of the Gambia Moral Congress, told journalists at a press conference that the unit is one of the most effective branches of the police. “The Anti-Crime Department is good news for The Gambia and I differ with all those who are calling for its scrapping. It is a functional and useful department that should exist in every country that cares about fighting violent crime. So any call for it to be scrapped is wrong, improper and the foundation is also unjustifiable,” Fatty said.
He however said the Unit’s functions need to be streamlined and run by people with integrity who will respect the law, while striking a balance between public protection and the protection of fundamental liberties.
“I stand very firmly in support of maintaining the anti-crime department and its mandate and additional funding. If I had remained as the minister of Interior, it would have been my greatest weapon of crime reduction and ensuring that violent criminals who belong to jail are locked up for good,” he added.
He continued: “Of course, like any institution they have their deficiencies and I stand here to condemn all the violations of the law and all the repressive tendencies that were exhibited by people who work under the anti-crime department. I am not going to justify those actions. I think it is reprehensible that the people who are supposed to protect us are the oppressors of the public. That is not acceptable”.
Fatty said the Gambia police and other internal security outfits’ ability to combat crime has been weakened by inadequate logistics and lack of motivation, partly due to low remuneration and corruption.
“As a former interior minister, I understand some of the challenges that our security confronts in this country. I witness first-hand the many great men and women who wear our uniform who are patriots going in and out ensuring that we live in peace and security. We must understand that we cannot use one yardstick against the entire police force. We must not as a country turn enemy to law enforcement. They are some of the lowest paid in the civil service – some of them are earning D1500 per month. What can you do with that?The prime function of every government is to protect your citizens and provide a sense of certainty and security, so that national development and other aspects that are essential for the life of the country can continue to strive. But it appears the Gambia government is not capable of protecting the public. The general sense of hysteria and fear across the country is very evident – everywhere you go today the buzzword for the public is insecurity – people are unsafe at home, work places and in the streets,” he said.
Fatty added that when there is a breakdown of law and order, communities and people will feel insecure and that is the first signal towards a failing state.
He said the failure of the security system “is an indictment on the general capacity of The Gambia to provide what is necessary in terms of resources and tools to protect this country.”
He said the rising crime is a consequence of poverty, unemployment and lack of priority to provide opportunities for young people. “The response to crime is building an economy and political system that is capable of responding to the needs and aspirations of our young people.
“The country and government in general are not fair with the country’s security forces. There are police stations without vehicles. These vehicles, buses and motor bikes going to NPP, painted with President Barrow’s pictures should have been given to the police, immigration, drug squad and anti-crime,” he noted.