Why Have The Police Failed The Media; While Being Successful in Coco Ocean case?
Monday, April 30, 2012
The criminal investigation division of the Gambia Police Force were able to pin down the suspected criminals in the case of an attack on the proprietor of the Coco ocean hotel in just under 46 hours; while it has taken them more than 7 solid years to even question more than one suspect in the case of the late Deyda Hydara, who was killed at just a stone’s throw from the police head office in Kanifing in 2004. Is that not unbelievable?
It is not in fact, only the case of the late Deyda Hydara. There were many other cases where some people who took the law into their own hands and committed numerous assaults on the media: the case of Ebrima Sillah formerly of the BBC, the burning of the printing machine of the defunct Independent newspaper, Alieu Bah of Radio One FM, whose house was set ablaze while he and his family were asleep, the burning of some parts of Radio One FM, the assaults on Njammeh Bah formerly of Point newspaper, the missing of Chief Ebrima Manneh formerly of Observer newspaper, and many more.
December 12, 2006, Baron Eloagu, formerly of the Daily Express, a privately owned newspaper was attacked and beaten. This followed the severe beating up of Abdougafar Olademinji, also a journalist of the Daily Express.
December 2005, Ramatoulie Charreh, who was then with the Daily Observer, was rough-handled by police, when participants at the international conference attempted to visit the site where late Deyda Hydara was gunned down.
November 2005 The house of the BBC Banjul correspondent, Ebrima Sillah, in Jambur about 24 km from the capital Banjul was attacked by arsonists, Sillah barely escaped alive, all his belongings were burnt to ash.
Six armed masked men put the printers of The Independent Newspaper at gun point, poured diesel on the paper’s new printing machine and set it on fire. During the 3:00 am melee, some staff sustained severe injuries. The arsonists left behind a pistol, which was given to the police. Two of the arsonists, Corporal Sana Manjang and Sheriff Guissey (both soldiers of the National Guard) were named in parliament. The government still kept mute over the issue, the suspects were neither arrested nor prosecuted.
Not one of the above cases has been properly investigated by the police, not to talk of bringing in suspects before a law court. Is that deliberate, or are the hands of the police been tied behind their back? We need an explanation from the investigating arm of the Gambia Police Force, if they are to be taken seriously.
Why are there no arrests in the above criminal acts? One of them is particularly serious, for it involves unlawful taking the life of an innocent Gambian citizen. The missing young man Chief Ebrima Manneh is also a very serious matter for the police to investigate and come up with tangible results.
If it can take the police more than 7 solid years and yet they cannot come up with any tangible results in the killing of Deyda and missing of Chief Ebrima Manneh, but it takes them only 46 hours to pin down people who are suspected of carrying out a heinous act against another innocent Gambian citizen, proprietor of Coco Ocean hotel, then something is wrong somewhere. Or one can candidly say, the law enforcement officers are not treating us equally.
The laws of the Gambia know no discrimination, so those who enforce them should not show any sign of discrimination. Justice should be seen to take effect in the above cases now, if those responsible for the enforcement of the law are not being seen to be discriminative themselves.
What is more interesting is that the slightest mistake journalists make, these same law enforcement forces will pounce on us with all their might. In many cases, journalists will be arrested and detained beyond the 72 hours permitted by the constitution, sometimes even worse, they subject us to all kinds of manhandling.
In the past, journalists were jailed for merely issuing a press statement. Others were arrested at airport, prosecuted and fined very heavily for a simple write up. If the law treats us like that why is the law also not at our side when our rights are grossly violated, to the point when we are killed?
Please law enforcing agents, we have no problem when we are found wanting by the law to be treated accordingly, but when we are wronged do treat us the same. All are equal before the law. Who killed Deyda and where is Chief Ebrima Manneh???