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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Backlog of unsolved murders:  Are the police really investigating?

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Apart from the very obvious, it looks like there is very little to differentiate between The Gambia police under Yahya Jammeh and Adama Barrow. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of place if someone claims that we haven’t really broken away from the past with regard to the slow pace of police investigating crimes in the country.

How often have you heard the police claim they are investigating a crime? And how long do those investigations last? Under Jammeh, it was a line that we all got used to: investigations are underway. The truth, most of the time, is that no investigations take place and reporters come across a stone wall whenever they tried to ferret any tit-bit of information from the police and other security agencies under Jammeh. But let’s leave Jammeh in the past for a moment and focus on now.

In April 2021, a young high school student Marie Mendy was found mutilated in Busumbala, alongside another young man Zilson Gomez who was hanging in a well. The police have been investigating it since and next month will be one year of investigations.  On Tobaski Day in 2021 at Dippa Kunda in the Kanifing municipality, Yusupha Tabally, was stabbed with a knife in his neck. For the remainder of that year, investigations went on. Even though a suspect has been arrested and is standing trial, there is no end in sight to the matter. In December last year, Mama Bajinka was found dead after she was reportedly hit with a stick on her head. A suspect has been arrested who denied any wrongdoing. The case is still on.

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There is a backlog of unsolved murder cases at the police: Abdoulie Sanneh was stabbed with a pair of scissors at Brufut beach; Ismaila Sanneh of Brikama died after being knocked by an unknown driver; Alagie Bojang was beaten and killed by at least a dozen youngsters in October 2019 at Bakoteh Housing Estate; Mariama Jaw was killed after she was hit with a pestle-like object on her head in June 2021; Gibril Ceesay of Sanyang was stabbed by a Senegalese and died in March 2021; Buba Jammeh was shot dead in February 2019 during a violent skirmish between the neighbouring villagers of Gunjur and Berending; Alimatou Sarr, a fish trader in Tanji, was killed in 2020. We can go on and on without exhausting the list. Clearly, investigations and prosecutions are not working.

But that is murder, civilians killing each other. How about when the police are the perpetrators? Ebrima Sanneh from Brikama said Anti-Crime head Gorgi Mboob beat him on his private parts. The police swiftly denied Sanneh’s claims. Mboob was found guilty, removed but reinstated. The Police Intervention Unit shot two civilians in Faraba Banta in Kombo East. What happened to the perpetrators? PIU officers bragged about teargassing UDP supporters in the aftermath of the 2021 presidential election. The police said they would investigate. We haven’t seen anything from them regarding the matter since. Same thing with the officers seen on video brutalising a UDP supporter during the nomination of parliamentary candidates in Brikama earlier this month. 

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