Gambia: Editorial: In The Gambian Immigration D1.4 Million Visa Theft Case; The IGP Has Put The Cart Before The Horse!

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BANJUL, THE GAMBIA—The Gambian police command is seemingly putting the cart before the horse in the D1.4 million Immigration port visa theft case. Investigations should be governed by best practice protocols and not otherwise.

The suspects in the port case have been summoned for questioning without being interdicted. Keep in mind that this is a high profile criminal case. There are witnesses and potential suspects still in active service.

Having the suspects under the employment of the Gambian Government, while investigating the case at the same time, might likely undermine the outcome of the case. Interdicting the accused officers would have make more sense than questioning and releasing them without filing “holding charges” against them.

The risk of the case being compromised by “persons of interest” and those currently under the radar of the police is very likely. Proper management of cases and evidence gathering is sacrosanct in any case investigations.

The complainant in this case is the Deputy Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department Seedy Touray. Mr. Touray filed a complaint against the accused officers to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior. His boss Buba Sagnia, AKA Zil received a copy of Seedy’s complaint letter. The Ministry acted based on Seedy’s letter to instruct the IGP to look into the matter.

Interestingly, Seedy’s wife is among the officers questioned by the police in connection with the stolen visa funds. His wife is a Chief Inspector at the Immigration office at the ports.

The purported incident occurred on March 23rd, 2018. It took Seedy Touray over one week before he could report the matter to his superiors. He reported the incident on April 11th, 2018.

Failure to report the commissioning of a crime on a timely fashion, doesn’t tell well on any supposed ” career law enforcement officer.” The police should investigate why it took over one week for the alleged incident to be exposed. Who was Seedy’s informant in this matter? Has his wife confided in him about the case? How did he knew that the D1.4 million dalasis was shared among the accused officers? Who was the custodian of the D700,000 dalasis left from the stolen visa fees collected from the visiting Dutch cruise ship tourists? Why was the money not paid to the government coffers and was allegedly handed to Mr. Touray instead? These are legitimate questions that any serious journalist or law enforcement agency worthy of its salt should ask.

It is also important to note that the police are yet to question Seedy Touray. It is not clear if the alleged involvement or complicity of Touray’s wife into the case, will hurt or jeopardize the outcome of the investigations.

The credibility of Seedy Touray as a witness, has been put into question–given the alleged involvement of his wife into the theft case. It would be wise for Touray to be sent on administrative leave to preserve the credibility of the ongoing investigations. He should be treated as a ” person of interest” in this matter based on the prevailing circumstances.

Under normal circumstances, the police ought to have written to the Personal Management Office (PMO) to present a case of interdiction against the accused officers before summoning them for questioning. Once the PMO approves the IGP’s request, then the police can move in and summon the suspected officers in uniform.

For now, the office of the IGP, had created a situation in which the suspects can confide in with their co accused persons at large about their Tuesday’s encounter with the detectives. Very bad policing.

It imperative to note that all accused persons are presume innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. But it is our contention that the police must do its homework before inviting suspects indiscriminately without respecting the best standard practices governing investigations. We rest our case.

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