By Tabora Bojang
Opposition UDP National Assembly Members have called for the immediate release of the party’s campaign manager Momodou Sabally, who is detained for a week without charge.
Sabally, who is a fierce critic of the Barrow regime, was arrested in connection to what the police called an alleged video in circulation where he suggested how the president will be ousted from office before the upcoming local government elections.
His arrest has fanned political tensions in the country with opposition supporters calling it a deliberate tactic of mistreatment to stifle dissent and free expression.
Yesterday, a group of UDP lawmakers led by minority leader Alagie S Darboe of Brikama North visited Sabally at his detention centre in Kanifing and had interactions with him over his custodial treatment.
According to the opposition NAMs, Sabally’s detention which was extended by a court without any charges still pressed against him cannot be reconciled with minimal standards of justice.
“We were there to show him solidarity and assure him that we are with him up to the end,” Madi Ceesay, NAM for Serekunda West told The Standard.
Ceesay, who is the chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights, said although they have learnt during their discussions with Sabally that he was not being subjected to harassments and intimidations, his arrest was a calculated political move by the government to silence him and other opposition voices.
“I feel that the police are being used as an instrument and as a result they are even struggling to put some evidence together and press charges against Sabally. That is why they have to rush to the court after 72 hours to ask for an extension. Otherwise, they would have pressed charges against him immediately but it is getting on to more than a week and they cannot put any charges against him. Unfortunately, this is not telling well about our democracy. We are really going back to dictatorship where people will be arrested and detained beyond 72 hours without being charged. It is very unconstitutional. It is very dictatorial and the signs are all clear on the wall that the Barrow administration is going all the way to follow the footsteps of the regime that he accused of being undemocratic,” Madi charged.
He said as lawmakers they expect the National Human Rights Commission to act immediately over the matter as dictated by their mandate.
“As lawmakers we are keenly following events as they unfold and we will duly act,” Ceesay stated.
“I want to urge President Adama Barrow to recuse himself from the operations of the law. My perception is that he [Barrow] has a hand in this [Sabally’s arrest] and I am warning him that if you want to seize people’s rights and do what you want, it can throw this country into chaos. As the number one citizen of this country, if you see the state going into a form of lawlessness which could have created another chaos you should take a step only if you are not part of the plot. You are trampling on the basic human right of Momodou Sabally and let me tell you that no president is really worth to be called our president if he can allow such things in the country. You cannot arrest somebody for more than 72 hours and failed to press charges against him. You asked for an extension of another week and still you do not and cannot press any charges against the person. You should allow him to go free,” NAM Ceesay demanded.