Police have arrested 148 people accused of violating the dusk-to-dawn curfew in The Gambia. The 21-day curfew is part of the government’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.  Police stations within the Greater Banjul Area have been crowded with arrested people. Other arrests were made in the up-country, as police enforce the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that was imposed amid a spike in coronavirus.

Superintendent Lamin Njie is the spokesperson for The Gambia police force. He says the arrested curfew violators are being processed to face court action. The violators could face a fine of up to D5,000 dalasis, which is equivalent to 100 U.S. dollars.

“Around Banjul area, we have got up to 23 people arrested for flouting the curfew regulation, when you go the KM region, the KM region is a very big and wide region, but around the Kanifing area, we have got arrest about eleven individual, if you look at the Bundung Talinding area, we have arrested about ten individual also within the cause of the three days curfew, and if you go to the anti-crime unit of the Gambia police force, we have effected about 38 individuals are being arrested,” Spokesman Njie told the Freedom Newspaper in a phone interview on Monday.

“Proceeding to Brikama, we have got 37, 37 people have been arrested around the Brikama area, all for flouting the curfew. Now Basse, also, on the first day of the curfew, we have arrested about 15 people and the second day, 16 individual, and all and all that is about 31 people, the other regions are also sending in their arrest numbers. All these individuals that I have mentioned are currently being processed by the police to ensure that they are put before the courts as soon as possible,” Njie added.

The Gambia has a total of 1,235 cases and 23 deaths. Superintendent Njie says COVID-19 is real and Gambians should respect the curfew regulation.

“These regulations are equally laws of the Gambia and the Gambia police force will not relent in enforcing them. Today as we speak, there are some people, especially those that are arrested at the level of the anti-crime unit are going to be arraigned before the court and these individuals can get a fine up to D5,000 dalasis for flouting this regulation. So, therefore, it is important for the people of the Gambia to understand that COVID-19 is real, and it is not a joke and this why the Gambia police force will not joke with the enforcement of this regulation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lamin Secka, a US deportee who now is a small businessman, is out on bail after being arrested. He says the conditions in detention are not good.

“I tell the officer, are you to save people or you are make people sick because the bunch of people you are bringing here, you don’t know who is sick, and when you hold somebody’s hand, you suppose to wear gloves, because you are officer, you hold my hand to make me fingerprint, you must wear glove. Some of the officers don’t wear the mask all way up,” he said.

Secka says cells are overcrowded and unsafe.

“Like I said, inside that cell, 45 people, right by the counter 20 people, outside might 25 people, some of them inside the cell, they wear, but half of them don’t wear mask,” he added.

The police spokesman Njie says he was not in the position to confirm Secka’s allegations.

“I may not be able to verify that story, we will perhaps investigate at the level of the police station, but also we want to assure the public to understand that The Gambia police force is operating within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the W-H-O in preventing our officers themselves and also detainees or individuals that are in our hands during the course of processing them,” Njie remarked.

Meanwhile, Vice President Isatou Touray, who tested positive for COVID-19, has now tested negative, along with Health Minister Dr. Amadou Lamin Samateh, who was in quarantine.

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