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City of Banjul
Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Security alert

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By Ebrima Jobe

As a private citizen currently resident in The Gambia, I would like to register my concern with the relevant authorities vis-à-vis the current situation of insecurity in our communities and more so, the pattern of mob justice going on.

Needless to say, it is part of the social contract for the government to protect both citizens and aliens within her jurisdiction, failure of which man with his animal instinct can resort to vigilantism and mob justice as an alternative to secure lives and properties.

Law enforcement and security is a very expensive undertaking that goes alongside countrywide development. Our police need to be trained in investigation techniques and be equipped with defensive weapons and logistics in order to motivate them in the fight against crime. The rapid rise in breaking and entering, aggravated assault, robberies, extortion, sexual offences, juvenile delinquency and anti-social behaviour need to be remedied immediately by the relevant authorities without delay. I understand the Senegalese Café Touba seller who was murdered by some teenagers among whom was a recidivist criminal, who not long ago, was released from Old Jeshwang Juvenile Prison Wing for a previous criminal offence. Our incarcerated offenders should properly undergo reformation process while serving their terms, especially young offenders. The science of penology comprises three important facets: rehabilitation, retribution avoidance and deterrence. The spree of illegal drug use is the main catalyst behind most of these crimes and deviance. Criminals embolden themselves by being the influence of illicit drugs and alcohol, a doctrine coined by criminologists as the Dutch Courage. Therefore the fight against crime should include Customs & Excise, Prison Services, Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Police Force and members of the public who are not law enforcers but have citizens’ responsibilities to conduct arrests and to report crimes accurately to the police. Citizens can arrest en flagrant delit, that is to say, in the act of omission or commission of an offence, but have to surrender the suspect sane and sound to the nearest police station within a reasonable period of time. Nobody including the police have a carte blanche to physically torture a perpetrator under custody. Equally, it is the duty of the arresting person to protect the said perpetrator from any form of abuse.

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To name a few cases: I saw a young person on social media yesterday being tortured somewhere in The Gambia by some adult women. This very young person is doli incapax, meaning unable to commit a crime by virtue of his young age. He was accused of trying to steal something unidentified. He was wearing a T-shirt of President Barrow and was saying he was from Touba Angalais. The mob beating the boy misunderstood that Touba Angalais is in The Gambia and not in Senegal as they thought. Who knows if this boy is even mentally deranged? I saw another video showing a Mercedes Benz taxi with Gambian registration number loaded with 4 small ruminants purportedly stolen and a man who does not look like a security officer, holding a firearm and claiming to have busted the front tyre of the vehicle.

Proactive action needs to be taken before things get out of hand.

Mr Jobe is a former banker, diplomat and security expert.

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