I have received information about a possible violation of the rights of a certain teacher from Kotu Senior Secondary School by officers of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU). According to my source, ‘a teacher was unlawfully arrested, put in cuffs and his hands cuffed to a pickup truck. A PIU officer sat on his shoulder and they drove him round the vicinity for almost an hour before taking him to the Senegambia Police Station.’
This incident is reported to have happened around two o’clock on Friday 2nd December 2022. Most of the staff and students were already at the mosque to observe the Friday service. One of the students was on his way to the mosque when he saw the PIU chasing students of other schools, the boy also ran to the school and they pursued him up to the school where he was arrested. The teacher in question, Mr Lamin Sillah, asked them the reason for arresting the student. He reminded them that as it was a school, before arresting a student the officers must inform the administration. The officers reportedly got angry that this teacher was trying to tell them how to do their jobs. They insulted him and took him away in a very disrespectful manner.
The other staff members went to the station after Jumma to ask the Station Officer why his men had behaveid in that manner. The officers arrested another of the teachers there and then. The teachers who were present decided as they could not reach their principal on phone, they should go back to the school and hold an emergency staff meeting.
At that point, someone claiming to be the commanding officer invited the teachers into his office. He apologised to them and said that his officers did not act according to law. He urged them not to make this a big thing but that they should forgive and move on.
As a teacher, I find this incident very serious and disrespectful to the profession. Not only did the officers cause Mr Sillah bodily harm but they also humiliated him by driving him around in handcuffs. There is no profession whose officials were not taught by teachers. Thus, teachers should be respected and honoured by everyone.
As I write, the teacher in question is complaining of bodily pain and has been advised to go to the hospital for a proper checkup. This is totally unacceptable. Regardless of what the PIU officer says the student did, it is unlawful to arrest a student in school without seeking the permission of the principal or those in authority.
I call on the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), the Gambia Teachers’ Union (GTU) , Conference of Principals of both Junior and Senior Secondary Schools to do the right thing and investigate this incident and ensure that justice is served.
If you don’t respect teachers it simply means that you do not value your children who are the future of the country. Our teachers deserve better!