STATEMENT BY THE HON. MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR, MR EBRIMA MBALLOW ON THE RECENT VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN BRIKAMA AND THE GREATER BANJUL AREA
Release Dated: July 26th, 2019
The Ministry of the Interior deeply regrets the death of Mr.Ousman Darboe, a 33 year old Serekunda market vendor and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and loved ones. Mr Darboe whose death has led to allegations of Police brutality followed by angry demonstrations on Wednesday was a known asthma patient who was detained by the Police Anti-Crime Unit and subsequently granted bail. He died a week later at a local health facility and not under police custody.
However, my ministry takes allegations of torture and police brutality very seriously and have attentively listened to all your grievances, complaints and resentments against our law enforcement agents.
Therefore, a Committee of independent investigators from all the security sectors has been constituted to thoroughly investigate and determine whether Mr Darboe was tortured as alleged. Should the investigation reveal that he died as a result of torture, those implicated will face the full force of the law.
The Ministry also seizes this opportunity to extend the condolences of the entire security apparatus of The Gambia to the family of the late Ousman Darboe as they go through a very difficult period of mourning the death of such a loving, caring and responsible husband, father and parent. We are deeply saddened by Ousman Darboe’s demise and pray that our independent investigations bring healing and closure to Ousman Darboe’s death.
Ousman’s unfortunate and sad death led to violent protests in the Serrekunda Market, Bijilo, Bertil Harding Highway and other areas within the Greater Banjul Area resulting in sporadic looting and violent attacks against innocent Gambians on Wednesday, July 24. Protesters also attacked the offices of the Anti-crime Unit and subsequently burnt the house of Commissioner Mboob, the Head of The Anti-crime Unit.
While we sympathise with the bereaved family and are deeply saddened by Ousman’s death, we appeal for calm, patience and understanding as the investigators meticulously probe the circumstances leading to his death.
Unfortunately, as demonstrations against alleged police complicity in Mr Darboe’s death were raging in the KMC area, another tense demonstration was taking place against allegations of financial corruption and incompetence directed at the Brikama Area Council. In both places, the security forces had to intervene to keep the peace and restore calm.
It is against this unpleasant picture festering its ugly head in our young democracy, that we sincerely appeal against all acts vandalism and looting as they are unlawful, violent, inhumane and potentially dangerous. If police stations and private properties are vandalised and looted, it is the Gambian people that bear the brunt and everybody will be a looser.
The Ministry further reminds the public that The Gambia is governed by a Constitution and that the Government of The Gambia seeks to promote a culture of rule of law. Laid down procedures for all activities that are to be undertaken by either individuals or group of people in a public space, including protests must follow due processes key to which is requesting for and obtaining a permit via the competent authority (The Office of the Inspector General of Police). The thinking behind this is to ensure the protesters have security, that the process is orderly while at the same time protecting other Gambians and their properties in case things get out of hand.
The public is advised to desist from taking the law into their own hands. Mob justice and or self initiated justice have no place in our national laws.
Equally, it is imperative for the Gambian population to note that “WE”, Government and citizens alike, must work hand in hand to nurture our new found freedoms. Democracy does not mean doing or saying anything you like. All and sundry must observe the rule of law to safeguard the peace and democracy every Gambian and non-Gambian alike are enjoying.
In light of the above, the Public is advised to desist from such violent and unlawful activities that can undermine the peace, security and stability of our our dear nation that is reeling from 22 years of violence and dictatorship.
We thank you all for your understanding and cooperation. God bless The Gambia and her people.
Hon. Ebrima Mballow
Gambian Minister of Interior