About seven Bafuloto youths, who were accused of taking part in the Farato rioting incident, which reportedly caused a wanton destruction to personal property, have been detained for over a month without bail, in direct contrast with the dictates of the constitution, Bakary Demba, a resident of the area told Freedom Radio Gambia, in an interview on Friday. The constitution says people detained should be charged within a reasonable period of time, and should be granted bail within seventy two hours of their detention. Two elders of the village were also taken into police custody today, when they visited the Brusubi police station to secure the release of the detained youths, who have been languishing in custody for over a month now, Mr. Demba added. Bafuloto, village head Alhagie Jobe, and Imam Alhagie Ceesay, were arrested together with two other villagers earlier today. They have been accused of taking part in the Farato riot, according to Mr. Demba.
Venting his frustrations at the state of affairs, Mr. Bakary Demba said, the continued detention of the detained youths without the right to bail, is not only unacceptable, but an affront to our newfound democracy. He said the detainees had only appeared in court twice since their arrest and have since been held incommunicado by the Gambian police.
Bafuloto, is situated in Western Gambia. The inhabitants of the village said they acquired the land legally, but some residents of Faratou claimed that the land belong to them. The matter was a subject of litigation in the courts during dictator Yahya Jammeh’s era.
Under president Barrow’s presidency, attempts were made to execute a “court order” to demolish some of the properties at the village, which resulted to an altercation between the village youths and the team, who were in Bafuloto to demolish people’s homes. The confrontation degenerated into violent skirmishes, resulting to the destruction of the caterpillar, which was used to demolish the villagers homes. A vehicle belonging to Saja Gibba was also burnt to the ground.
Lamin Demba, Alieu Faal, Alieu Touray, Bakary Manneh, and co were among the Bafuloto youths taken into custody by the police. They were charged with organizing a protest without permit and destruction to property.
On Friday, Bakary Demba and Bakary Sabally both residents of the village contacted Freedom Radio Gambia to express their outrage at the ongoing plans to demolish more 2000 homes belonging to the people of Bafuloto.
“ We want peace. The democracy we are hearing doesn’t reach here at Bafuloto. We are poor people; we do not have money to give them; hence we are treated less human. It has been over one month, when our village youths got arrested by the police. We are in the month of Ramadan and they are still languishing at the Brusubi police station,” said Mr. Demba.
“Our village women went to see Interior Minister Mai Fatty, when the incident happened. Mai told them that what happened was rather unfortunate. He told the women that it was wrong for anyone to demolish people’s properties. He even gave them D1000 dalasi, and promised to visit the village, which he never did. We will not watch by and allow them to demolish our legitimately acquired homes. We had proof of ownership of our properties. The Ministry of Lands and physical planning had our records of property ownership,” he said.
Interior Minister Mai Fatty could not be reached for comment to authenticate Mr. Demba’s claims.
Explaining the genesis of the land dispute, Mr. Demba said some nonresidents of the Kombo are behind the land dispute. He accused the following people of falsely claiming to have owned the disputed land:
Like Bakary Demba, Bakary Sabally, also said he has been living in Bafuloto for over eleven years. He said his own land was trespassed by Karamba Sabally, who used his land for farming purposes. He said he is disappointment that the Gambian authorities are allowing folks to demolish their properties.
Ms. Jainaba Sambou, is their retained lawyer. Demba and Sabally have called for the immediate release of the Bafuloto villagers.
“I played a crucial role towards president Barrow’s election into office. I never contributed financially, but I mobilized people to vote for Barrow. We want peace in this country. We are not refugees. This is our land,” Mr. Demba said.
There was no listed phone number available for the police spokesman for us to contact him comment.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Whatsapp And Viber Number: 919-749-6319