By Tabora Bojang
Fresh from a four-day police incarceration and slammed with charges for inciting violence, defiant opposition United Democratic Party Campaign Manager Momodou Sabally said it is quite clear to everybody that he is the state’s Number One target “they are doing all they can to try to link me with some crime so that they can lock me or intimidate me into silence and I refuse to be silenced because nobody can cage me.
Their only motive is to silence me which they will never achieve in a billion years,” Sabally told The Standard following his release from custody.
He continued: “I don’t have any doubts that the intention was to link me with the gruesome murder of PIU officers which is quite unfortunate because I don’t have a record of violence.
Violence is not within my character and my party does not support violence. Our party leader’s standing instruction has been for all to be law abiding and to avoid violence. So, there is no way I would advocate for violence or take part in the killing of young Gambians especially those in uniform serving the state. Everybody knows that I am one of the most vociferous critics of this government and they have done everything to pull me in to leave the UDP for NPP which I resisted and now also they have failed to link me with this heinous crime just like they failed previously to link me with a coup. I am as clean as the snow,” he averred.
Asked what the police wanted to know from him, he said the police showed him a post he made lamenting the ‘deliberate targeting and brutalising’ of his party supporters, which the police interpreted as a threat.
“I wrote a cautionary statement explaining what I meant and my motive for the post which was clearly not a threat but to caution the PIU head through social media advocacy to stop the brutality that has been meted out consistently to our supporters. I told them my writings on social media are for a particular audience and that audience knows my character and record. I am not somebody who breaks the law, or advocates for violence,” Sabally said.
Intimidation at police station
He alleged that this recent arrest was the most intimidating since his encounters with law enforcement forces, even in the Jammeh era.
“During my first night under detention, heavily armed PIU officers stormed the station in masks, dispersed my supporters, arrested one of them, forced him into the cells and hurled insults and threats against him.
I never encountered something like that since I started getting into trouble with law enforcement from the Jammeh era to date. Never was I threatened by armed officers while I was under the custody of the state. That was really troubling and the same thing continued the next day [Saturday.” he said.
Mr Sabally alleged that his detention was politically motivated because it was preceded by calls from supporters of the ruling NPP to get him and his sister arrested.
According to him, he was privy to several audios from party supporters, security officers and a certain diplomat in the Gambian embassy in South Africa all calling for his arrest.
“It is now becoming a routine for police to go after opponents of the government whenever suggested by NPP supporters,” Sabally said adding that NPP considers UDP as its biggest threat having made arguably the biggest comeback in Gambian politics after the 2021 presidential election defeat, which happened under his tenure as the UDP campaign manager.
He urged the police to remain professional and disassociate themselves from the urges of any political party in the performance of their duties.
Mr Sabally further elucidated that his frequent arrests and detentions is becoming a “psychological trauma” for his family and party supporters to the extent that they would be worried if he leaves home and did not hear from him for hours.