By Tabora Bojang
The Inspector General of Police has urged National Assembly Members to help address the serious logistical constraints informing police inability to effectively stem the tide of cattle rustling and other forms of criminality in URR.
Abdoulie Sanyang was responding to queries and concerns of members of the public petition committee of the National Assembly currently probing the extreme incidents of cattle rustling in Wuli East allegedly due to police corruption.
Natives of Wuli East claimed in a petition to the assembly that their livelihoods are threatened by criminals who operate in the form of organised crimes and accused the police of ‘turning a blind eye or collaborating’ with the criminals.
But responding to these concerns Friday, IGP Sanyang told the committee that the ineffective police response to cattle rustling was mainly owing to logistical problems.
“It is not incompetence. Our officers are well trained to take charge of these cases and prosecute them accordingly. The problems are logistical. The number of vehicles we have in URR is so minimal compared with a wide catchment and the porous borders”, Sanyang said.
Asked what steps his office would take to swiftly provide an operational vehicle for officers who confessed to NAMs during their visit that the whole CRR South does not have a single vehicle for operations, IGP Sanyang replied that his office has no immediate remedy because there was no vehicle allocation in the police budget for the year.
“I know there are logistical problems everywhere and I am not getting the vehicles from my pocket. It would be a surprise to know that there is no allocation for any single vehicle in our budget. Yes, people will say the police don’t have a vehicle but they should understand that the police cannot buy vehicles on their own; vehicles are provided by the state. How can you operate a station with a vast area without a single vehicle? So this is a problem and I cannot sit here and assure you I will provide a vehicle in that area. I want you to understand that vehicles are a prerequisite for us to operate effectively because the area is vast and the personnel are minimal,” he lamented.
According to IGP Sanyang even the PIU personnel in charge of patrols in the area have one vehicle patrolling both the East and Western parts of URR.
When asked by the committee chairman Sunkary Badjie if he [ IGP] will be willing to use the influence of his office to get the officers a vehicle or a motorbike, he [IGP] replied: “To use the influence of my office to who, where?”
NAM Badjie suggested he go to the president, the cabinet or National Assembly.
The IGP replied: “Now can I plead to this august Assembly to look at the logistical needs of the police and the security because there is a serious need to look at it? If you go to some stations, you find only one vehicle and that does not exist in a standard police station.
There is a need for you [lawmakers] to look into this urgently because without security there can be no meaningful development. People demand a lot from us but little is given to us even in terms of fuel. You cannot have an operational vehicle with 20 litres of fuel per day.”
However, committee member Suwaibou Touray who is also the Wuli East lawmaker, informed the IGP that the Assembly had injected at least two vehicles into the police budget for the year but according to the police chief, they “didn’t receive any vehicle.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Yankuba Sonko has revealed to lawmakers on Wednesday that a total of 32 murders and 1 manslaughter cases were reported in the last 13 months.
He said out of these, only 3 cases were convicted so far, while 15 are under investigations. He said only 9 out these 15 cases are without suspects whilst the remaining six are with suspects and 14 cases are still pending court trials.
According to Minister Sonko, a total of 23 cases of armed robberies were reported during the period, with a significant amount of money recovered by police in Gambian and foreign currencies.