By Alagie Manneh
The president of the Gambia Bar Association Salieu Taal has blasted the return of disgraced police commissioner Gorgi Mboob as head of police crime-fighting unit as a “mockery”.
Mr Mboob, who won admiration among many Gambians for his success in tackling violent crime, fell from grace when he was removed from the police Anti-Crime Unit in July last year after he was accused of assaulting a detainee with a hoe on his private parts.
A joint investigative panel including members of the National Human Rights Commission, Tango, Ministry of Interior and Gambia Bar Association found Mboob guilty of assault and subjecting the suspect to degrading punishment. The panel recommended disciplinary measures against him, resulting in his deployment to Farafenni as police commissioner.
His sudden return as head of the Unit has been making media headlines since last week. However, according to Mr Taal, Mboob’s return demonstrated a mockery of not only his victim, but of accountability in The Gambia.
“It sent a very bad message,” Mr Taal told The Standard. “If we are committed to accountability, and a body was constituted by… with all these stakeholders having conducted all the work, make recommendations and assured that the recommendations will be implemented and all of a sudden, there is a step back. I was very disappointed.”
He said if reports of commissioner Mboob’s return as ACU boss are true, it is retrogressive, given the fact that it was the late IGP himself who called for the formation of such a panel.
“It is really surprising that down the line we understand that he has been brought back. It’s a mockery of the process,” Mr Taal said. “I think we are all stakeholders in ensuring accountability. The job of the police is to enforce the law and protect the citizenry. If there’s [an] instance where somebody who is part of the police institution is said to have broken the law, that is a very, very serious thing. They should set an example. But having constituted a body to investigate, a body that includes the police and the Interior ministry and the NHRC, only to bring back the same person who was found wanting, it really questions how serious they are about accountability.”
But Mr Taal said he was not surprised too because there are people who say that Yahya Jammeh should come back in this country. “There is a need to fight crime but in fighting crime we also have to respect fundamental rights of individuals. You cannot bring somebody who has a history of or has been prone not to respect rights of detainees and was found wanting by a panel of investigation and was adversely mentioned in the TRRC. It looks like we are going back to the old ways.”
He said Mr Mboob is not the only police officer who can do the job.
“Inasmuch as we need to fight crime, is Gorgi Mboob the only capable police officer who can lead that unit? I don’t think so. When institutions are constituted to come up with recommendations, it is very important that the substance and the essence of those recommendations are implemented to the letter. That is the demonstration of commitment,” Mr Taal stated.
NHRC to address the issue
Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Emmanuel Joof, said his Commission plans to call a press briefing to address the issue.
The Standard tried to contact the IGP but he could not be reached.