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City of Banjul
Monday, October 26, 2020

“OFFICERS ABANDONED US AFTER SHOOTING MY GIRLFRIEND”

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Mr Njie is standing trial at the magistrates court in Kanifing for allegedly causing the death of Ms Jarju by rash driving, but he pleaded not guilty. 

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In his testimony, Sulayman Bah, a civil servant, gave a graphic account of the incident, which happened while they were returning home after having a dinner at a restaurant. He affirmed that shots had killed his girlfriend. He lamented that even after seeing his girlfriend in blood; the officers abandoned him alone with her, ignoring his plea for help. 

He explained: “Ya Binta and I boarded the accused person’s taxi to go home. Ya Binta was sitting right behind the driver’s seat on the left side, while I was sitting behind the passenger’s seat on the right side. Just near the Elton petrol station, there was a security check point. The accused told us that he was not going to stop because he was not wearing a seat belt and that the security officers would disturb him.

“I told the driver that if he didn’t stop, the security officers would waste our time, but he refused and drove away when he was ordered to stop. The security officers shouted for him to stop, but he refused. That was the time I and Ya Binta shouted at him, but he did not listen to us. Few seconds later, we saw the security vehicle coming behind us at a very high speed. We advised the driver to stop because he was putting our lives in danger, but he still didn’t listen. 

“The security vehicle then managed to overtake us and stand right in front of our taxi and fired three warning shots. At that point, the driver managed to escape to [a]dark, narrow street. The security vehicle followed the taxi. That’s when they started shooting at the taxi. I forced the driver to change his direction by battling with him for a while. I did that because our lives were at risk and I wanted the vehicle to stop at that very moment. 

“When the vehicle stopped, I turned around and saw that Ya Binta’s head [was] covered in blood. I got out of the taxi and held her in my arm and shouted for the officers to come and help us. I could not believe at that very moment that she was dead. I told the officers to help me take Ya Binta to the hospital, but none of them responded. Instead, they told me that they were going [to] communicate to the Manjai Police Station. So, they left us there. Later, the landlord of the compound where our taxi stopped took the driver to the police station. That’s how I called my family. When they came, I took Ya Binta’s phone and went to the station where I was asked to give a statement.

“I was later transferred to the Kairaba Police Station where I was detained for a while. I was not locked up in a cell. The police told me that it was for some security reasons. I was then taken to Banjul for further questioning before I was released on bail.”

Under cross-examination, Mr Bah admitted that the shots the military fired killed his girlfriend.  “You told this court with certainty that at least a fire was aimed at the car and it was that shot that unfortunately killed your girlfriend,” defence lawyer, Edu Gomez asked and the witness replied in the positive.

However, the prosecutor urged the court to expunge the evidence, arguing that the lawyer was passing judgement. His objection was accepted by the magistrate, who said: “many reasons can lead to death.”

Answering a question about what he felt after a shot was aimed at the car, Bah said: “I was battling with the  driver by then, but when the car stopped I realised that the girl I was with was covered in blood.”

Asked whether he saw those who fired the weapons at the car, Bah responded that it was dark, so could not tell who shot at the taxi.

“After the three warning shots, could you tell whether the other shots that followed were aimed at the vehicle?” Gomez pressed. Replying, Bah said: “Yes. They were directed at us because the shots hit the car.” 

He, however, emphasised that the first shots were not aimed to harm them. “If they had intended to shoot us, they would have done that because they were right in front of us, but they didn’t. So I can tell that the three first shots were not directed at us.”

Meanwhile, the accused, Mr Njie, who had in the previous hearing pleaded guilty to allegations of driving an unlicensed vehicle and failure to stop when required, was sentenced to a fine of D4,000 for failing to stop and 1,000 dalasis for unlicensed driving. 

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