By Musa Bah
Reports have it that yesterday, Monday 18 2018, two people were shot dead in Faraba Banta Village due to a scuffle between the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and villagers who were complaining of the destruction of their environment by a foreign sand mining company. This problem had been brewing for a while before it erupted into that catastrophe. This is indeed deplorable.
The primary duty of a government, it is said, is to protect its citizens. It behooves your government therefore to do everything in its power to ensure that the people living in the Gambia are safe and secure. The issue of the environment has become a serious threat to the peace and security of the nation.
However, the incident that occurred in Faraba leading to the death of at least two people exposes some serious problems in our security services. Although the Inspector General of Police has said in a statement that no authorization was given to use firearms, the fact remains that agents of the State who are supposed to protect citizens opened fire and killed innocent civilians.
This shows that our security officials – or at least most of them – do not have the required training to do their jobs well. Whatever the case, trained officials should never open fire on innocent civilians. These people were supposed to be the guardian angels who would risk their lives to ensure that the civilians are safe, no matter what.
Another angle is that the security officials – the police in this case – have not been equipped enough to face challenges like riots or protests. As our nascent democracy grows, more and more people will take to the streets to protest their dissatisfaction over one thing or the other. Thus, it is of extreme importance that our security officers are prepared to take up the challenge to control, protect and secure the lives of people.
It is also important to ensure that the security services are well paid and well-motivated to sacrifice for the good of the country. Even if the security services are well trained and well-equipped, if they are not well paid, they will lack the motivation and incentive to risk everything, including their lives, to make sure that the people of the nation are protected.
The saying that prevention is better than cure comes to mind here. The government should ensure that all issues which can cause people to walk out in the streets to protest are removed. Thus, the government should make sure that all crimes are thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators brought to book if need be. There should be an end to impunity because wherever it prevails, violence is bound to follow.
The various incidents which have happened in the country and were not properly or thoroughly investigated are the catalysts to many subsequent troubles. In one way or the other, if trouble brews somewhere and it is not given the due regard it deserves, it can cause something else to happen which may be of greater magnitude.
The scuffles that took place in Kanilai, Farato, Busumbala, Tallinding are all harbingers to what transpired in Faraba yesterday. Mr President, you must take the bull by the horn, as it were, to ensure that your legacy is not the killing of innocent Gambians because due process was not followed in solving some of the problems that we have in the country.
I therefore condemn the killings of innocent civilians in the strongest terms possible and call on your government to mount a thorough and exhaustive investigation to ensure that whoever fired those bullets or had a hand in the problems leading to it is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Remember, peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of justice.
Have a Good Day Mr President.