Thursday, December 29, 2011

Police Netted Civilian Over Alpha Omar's Murder

Police PRO Yerro Mballow
The Gambia Police Force have in their custody a man linked to the murder of Alpha Omar Jobe in Manjai-Kunda.
Jobe, a 22-year-old Gambian born of Guinean parents died on Friday Dec. 16 following a severe torture unleashed on him allegedly by the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), personnel at Manjai Police station.
But the police spokesperson Yerro Mballow, said the suspect in their custody is a civilian.
However reports have it that Lamin Jarju, NDEA officer whose name featured prominently in the saga has absconded to Cassamance, southern province of Senegal.
Mr Mballow, meanwhile, said “I’m not aware of that. We only have one suspect in our custody and pursuing the rest.”
The suspect whose name is yet to be disclosed is now helping the police in their investigation, according to Mr Mballow.
“I cannot reveal his name because it might jeopardise our investigation as we are chasing others,” Mballow added.
He said the police are relying on the public to come forward and give information.
“If anybody knows where the rest of the suspects are, let them come forward and inform the police,” he advised.

Friday, December 23, 2011

From Prison, Isatou Enters Battleground

When sudden visits by seeming serious-looking male elders to a household headman become frequent, in The Gambian context, there is no need much guessing, especially when the host household harbours ‘a ripe girl.’
At the age of 19, young Isatou Dukureh, who had finally returned home after years of studies at a ‘Madrassa’ in neighbouring Senegal was anticipating such visits.
A year later when her father started holding closed door discussions with unknown, but elderly faces that have all of a sudden become familiar to her, she suspected that she was at the centre of the discussions.
But she was at a loss to understand why they would talk about her, decide and arrange for her without asking her opinion, even out of courtesy.
“I was certain they were discussing about me, but no one bothered to put me in the picture. But I knew that would not last,” the 20-year-old woman told WOMEN’S BANTABAA.
“One day, when those elders that have been visiting my father came and left, my father called me into his room and informed me that ‘the nut have been tied.
Shaken, though not completely caught off guard, she wanted to ask many questions at the same time: to whom, why, when, how…?
But knowing full well that her father is not that type who often entertains her children’s opinion even on issues that concerns them, affects them, she allowed him to rest his case.
“I wanted to protest, but my father would not talk his children for more than 2 minutes. He would never ask his family’s consent on the decisions he take, not even his wives,” she alleged.
“So, my marriage was arranged with a man I had never set my eyes on. All that my father told me about him was that he met the man at an Islamic conference.
“He [father] told me it was a promise he made to the man and assured me that the man would make a good husband because he is a good Muslim.
Looking young and beautifully plump, 20-year-old Isatou’s experiences with the man her father thought would make a good husband are poles apart.
Forced marriage is still commonplace in The Gambia, though the rate is said to have declined thanks chiefly to intensive awareness creation as well as some positive legal and policy reforms.
Rights activists however, say though legal provisions that protect women from forced marriage exist, the fact that they are made subject to personal laws make it hard, if not impossible to enforce.
This weakness in the existing legal provisions is compounded by the culture of silence and low awareness.
Isatou, for instance, attended a Madrassa. She is not aware of anything like Women’s Act, 2010. But even if aware, would it make much difference? For she has already accepted it as her fate.
“I have six elder sisters,” she says, “and I helplessly watched each of them disappear into their marital homes in tears.
“Since then, I came to the conclusion that I would not be an exception. Here I am suffering a similar fate.”
Born into a household where, unlike her brothers, young Isatou Dukureh’s inalienable rights to movement, association, education, opinion and speech was unduly alienated.
Her father, she explains, rules his household with an iron fist and punishes her by beating for some minor mistakes. Even his wives are not spared, though male children are accorded some preferential treatment when it comes to association, education, etc.
Growing up, young Isatou could hardly feel her father’s love for her. She sees conditions at her household as no different from prison where ones rights, especially a girl child’s, are unduly curtailed.
“My father’s house was like a prison,” she says, “but my marital home is a battleground.
“My husband and I have been married for over a year now, but I still don’t love him. I don’t have any feelings for him.
“He knows I don’t and he treats me badly,” she managed to say between sobs as she could no longer hold back her tears.
After a charged pause, she goes on: “I never thought my father would marry me to a stranger.
“I’ve struggled to understand how any parent could do this to his or her child.
“My husband treats me cruelly. I wanted to divorce him right now, but my father would kill me.
“He would curse me when I tell him that I don’t love my husband. He would never forgive me for disobeying him.”
Worse than that, Isatou says, her husband has vowed never to divorce her ‘because my father gave me to him as ‘gift.’
She explains further: “When I traveled with my husband to his home village in in Guinea Conakry, I found out that he has another wife.
“He never told me about it. It was his parents who informed me while I was there.
“Infact, my husband wife told me if there are no men in my own country. She queries why my father should get me married to his husband.
“I wake up every morning hoping that my husband would tell me: pack up and leave … that he doesn’t want me any more,” she says. But that seems to be a far away aspiration for now. 

Charges against Touray Brothers of Pristine Dropped

The State has on Monday withdrawn criminal case against Mr. Hassan Touray, chief technology officer of Pristine Consulting, a Gambian-owned IT firm.
Assan and his brother, Abdurrahman Touray, the chief executive officer of the firm are charged with two counts of economic crimes, one count of conspiracy to defraud the public and one count of theft.
Details of the indictment revealed that the two men sold and withheld The Gambia government’s share of over D27, 000,000,000 when engaged by government to produce biometric national identity cards and other official documents.
Assan denied any wrong-doing, but his brother was indisposed. He was declared wanted by the state before the trial.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Judge ‘Uncomfortable’ with Case of His Former Student Who ‘Murdered’ Mum


Justice Nkea

Justice Emmanuel Nkea of Special Criminal Court in Banjul yesterday recused himself from the murder case involving Omar Jammeh, a boy alleged to have deliberately set his biological mother on fire.
The tragic incident occurred in 2010 at Bundung Borehole when late Fatou Badjie’s house was set on fire allegedly by Omar Jammeh, who is said to claim that his mother was a witch. The rescue was late as Fatou Badjie died shortly after the incident at the hospital.
And Omar Jammeh is standing trial for murder and arson alongside his father, Ebrima Jammeh, but both pleaded not guilty.
When the case resumed yesterday, Justice Nkea told defense lawyer Lamin Camara that the prime suspect was his student at the law faculty of the University of The Gambia.
“I will not feel comfortable to convict this man,” he said, noting that Omar always smiles at him.
Nkea said he will transfer the case to another judge. The case will resumed when case file is transferred.

Cloud Thickens over Retired Civil Servant’s Death

Army PRO Bojang
The spokesperson of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) dismissed allegations that one Mariama Ann, a retired cleaner at the department of NGO affairs was killed by a military personnel.
A resident of Sinchu Alagie village in the West Coast region of The Gambia, the retired civil servant met her death on August 26, after she was knocked down by a vehicle at the outskirts of Mile 2 Central Prison in Banjul where she went to visit her remanded son, Abdul Aziz, who is standing trial on economic crimes.
According to eyewitnesses, the man driving the vehicle that knocked the old woman was a military personnel.
 None of the eyewitnesses have however recorded the details of the vehicle as it was said to be speeding. Some suspect that he was from the newly established Hamza Barracks in Banjul.
“I’m not aware of it,” army spokesperson Omar Bojang however told The Daily News at his office in Banjul.

Two Civilians Connected to 2006 Attempted Coup Arraigned

Njie and Lowe sitting in the gallery

After spending five years in remand at Gambia’s central prison where news and rumours of death of in-mates are nowadays coming-out thick and fast, the two civilians allegedly connected to the alleged 2006 coup attempt in Gambia were arraigned at the Special Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Gambia’s fugitive ex-defence chief Ndure Cham, who is said to have masterminded the alleged 2006 military coup attempt is still at large, but about five top army officers allegedly connected to the aborted coup have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, about five others including former intelligence chief, Daba Marenah have allegedly ‘escaped’ under mysterious circumstances while they were being transferred to provincial Janjanbureh prison.
Former defence chief Lang Tombong Tamba, who was Ndure Cham’s deputy and navy chief Sarjo Fofataa were recently sentenced to life imprisonment for concealment of treason even though they had pleaded not guilty. They have however appealed against their conviction.
Facing trial now over this saga that allegedly occurred while president Jammeh was on a trip abroad, is Mr Ablie Njie and Alieu Lowe.
Both attired in light-blue kaftan, Mr Ablie Njie and Alieu Lowe, who were working at the Gambia’s defence headquarters, are charged with treason related offences.