Over 100 Gambian police officers were recently summoned at the police Headquarters in Banjul, after been accused by the Senegalese forces stationed in Bwiam of allegedly receiving bribes from timber log smugglers. The officers were also accused of abdication of duties by allegedly allowing the log trucks to cross their checkpoints without impounding the trucks. The summoned officers came from the Central River Region, the Upper River Region, and the West Coast Region respectively. The accused officers have vehemently denied the charges.
IGP Mamdou Jobe was said to have received a complaint from the Senegalese peacekeepers stationed in Bwiam. Part of the complaint alleges that his police officers have not been executing the bilateral agreement that was reached between The Gambian and Senegalese governments to curb logs smuggled from neighboring Casamance. They claimed that The Gambian police have been found wanting in stopping the log smugglers.
The alleged incident happened this past September. The officers who were on duty on September 8th, 11th, 13th, and 16th were summoned for questioning to Banjul.
A police intelligent officer one Jadama, was tasked to investigate the accused officers. The officers were charged before even narrating their own side of the story. They were slammed with three count charges: Disobedience to order, Neglect of duty, and Discreditable conduct.
The above charges according to the charge sheet, were in total breach of the police disciplinary code as prescribed in the first schedule of the police rule, cap 18, volumes 111. The charge sheet also said the accused officers had allegedly disobeyed the force’s standing orders by failing to intercept the trucks loaded with logs coming towards the Kombos. That the accused officers were earlier warned not to allow any of the said trucks filled with logs to pass their area of responsibility.
The accused officers were referred to the Deputy IGP Abdoulie Sanyang for processing. It took about three days before they were formally heard. They were taken into a conference room at the Headquarters to narrate their side of the story.
They also met with Landing Bojang, the force’s operations Commander.
According to reliable sources, different tricks were used to get the accused officers to confess to the false allegations leveled against them, but the officers wouldn’t fall into the DIG and the Operation’s Commander’s bait. They were threatened with possible firings, but the officers were not intimidated
Some of the officers said they haven’t seen any truck filled with logs while they were on duty. They also said they were not aware of the purported order, which required them to impound trucks filled with logs.
Some of the accused officers also told the police investigators that “the trucks filled with logs had valid clearance documents from village Alkalos, Forestry officers, and The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to transport the logs into the Kombos.” They do not see any rationale that would warrant them to impound such trucks because the truck owners had been cleared by the state accredited officials, another source said.
Meanwhile, the IGP Mamout Jobe, has decided not to fire the accused officers because there was no tangible evidence to fire them. The officers have since resumed duties. They are back to work. Though, they had charges in their police files.
Written by Pa Nderry M’Bai
Email: [email protected]