The killing of Red Cross volunteer Ya Binta Jarju by security forces has sparked public outcry after it was revealed that security forces randomly fired in a taxi that ‘refused to stop’ at a checkpoint.
“National security should serve as a priority to protect lives and not take lives,” said in a Facebook post opposition leader Mai Ahmad Fatty of the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC).
Ya Binta Jarju was killed Saturday night by security forces at a checkpoint in Kotu, located 8 km from Banjul. Security forces claimed that the taxi she boarded refused to stop at a checkpoint. The incident comes at a time when authorities have taken steps to tighten security in the country following the December 30 abortive putsch attempt.
A joint task force comprising units of the army, the police and other enforcement agencies has been mandated to set up numerous checkpoints across the country.
“In The Gambia, the State means one man and national security represents the security of one man and his family. Notwithstanding the circumstances, the security forces should have acted with sufficient prudence and professionalism so as to avert the fatal shooting of young Red Cross volunteer, late Ya Binta Jarju,” GMC’s Fatty said.
As impunity has become the order of the day in Gambia, Mai Ahmad Fatty warned that this matter shall not be swept under the carpet. “The Gambia will never forget this, and no matter how long it takes, our citizens shall secure firm justice against all those who torture, kill or victimize our people.”
Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) official Lamin Gassama told this that Ya Binta Jarju’s untimely tragic death is a very big loss not only to her friends, associates and family but also deeply to the Banjul branch of the Gambia Red Cross where she served all her life as a young promising girl.
Reacting to a statement made in local media by Gambia Police spokesperson incriminating the taxi drivert, Lamin Gassama described it as very shocking. “Comments made by ASP David Kujabi, PRO of the Gambia Police Force is indeed shocking and shameful in my personal opinion speaking as an individual,” said Gassama.
He then added that warning shots goes into the air, failure to comply should target the rear wheels of the moving object for it to stop rather than blatantly shooting the vehicle by the security forces.
“I expected the PRO of the police force to say that the shooters are in police custody helping them in their investigation and not putting blames on innocent souls which only validates their lack of credibility.”
When asked whether that Gambia Red Cross Society will take the matter up with the police, Gassama has this to say: “Gambia Red Cross Society can console with the family, but cannot in anyway take the matter to any level with the authorities as she was not at the time of her death
engaged in any mission for the GRCS.”
To many analysts, the tragic incident that resulted in a loss of life this weekend is not a surprise as President Yahya Jammeh gave carte blanche to security forces to kill.
In a comment posted on his Facebook wall, Gambian blogger Pata Saidykhan re-echoed utterance made in 2012 by President Jammeh urging security personnel to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ when dealing with armed robbers.
“When a President tells ill-trained, paranoid armed men to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’, everybody becomes an object of target practice, and any killing by the men in uniform would be ‘justified’ by the State,” said Pata Saidykhan.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN