By Omar Bah
The Gambia Police Force have confirmed arresting some officials of the APRC rival faction opposed to an alliance with President Barrow’s NPP.
“I can confirm to you that they have been arrested and currently held under detention pending investigations into the matter,” police spokesperson Lamin Njie told The Standard yesterday.
The arrests followed a highly charged stand off earlier in the day when heavily armed riot police broke up a press conference organized by the group at the house of Jerending Sanyang, a prominent member of the group.
Video footages shot by journalists at the scene showed Mr Sanynag being shuffled into a waiting police van. Another man, identified as Badjie was also arrested but later released along with a Kerr Fatou journalist. While effecting their arrests, police encountered resistance from their supporters who accused them of unlawfully harassing a peaceful event for which they don’t require a permit. One journalist from Kerr Fatou, Lamin Fatty, who was covering the event was arrested but later released. A tense climate ensured as supporters protested Jerending’s arrest, prompting the police to throw tear gas to wade off a potential full-blown riot. Many people exposed to tear gas were treated at the Banjulinding health center.
In the commotion, supporters of the group were heard chanting: “We are ready to die. We are ready for anything.” They accused the police of highhandedness and stifling of democracy, claiming that they have never seen anywhere where one needs a permit to hold a press conference in their own house.
They vowed to stand their ground to ensure that President Barrow loses the election in December.
“We have our votes and we are not going to vote for Barrow. We are with Jammeh and we are going to vote for any party Jammeh wants us to vote for. We don’t want Fabakary Tombong Jatta in the party anymore,” one angry supporter said.
Some angry women stripped themselves naked to demonstrate their anger at the behavior of the police.
Call for calm
Meanwhile, the leader of GANU Sheikh Tijan Hydara whose party is alliance with the group, addressed the angry crowd and urged them to avoid taking the law into their hands.
“The police violated the law and I want you to allow me to handle it myself. There is a situation and when you are in a situation, violence doesn’t help,” he said.
Mr Hydara said the police have “no right, authority or powers to go to Jerending’s house to disrupt the press conference because there is no law which says they have to obtain a permit to conduct a press conference”.
“They went there, arrested him and even threw teargas on people. But what we need now is calm heads. If I am your leader, you should take my advice. I promise you that I will secure Jerending’s release. I know we are all angry but let us not demonstrate it in a manner that will destabilise the country,” Hydara could be heard on top of his voice as he tried to calm the situation. When asked again about the situation, the police PRO could only say ”we are investigating the matter”.
Meanwhile, as we went to press last night The Standard was informed that Jerrending has been released on bail.