Gambian Lady’s Fatal Shooting Sparks Outrage

The late Ya Binta Jarju

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

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  1. Deyda Haidara

    My heart bleeds. How on earth can the police PRO issue such an inhuman and heartless statement as if this innocent young girl that lost her life was the one driving the taxi.
    What can the passengers do if the taxi driver decides to behave this way? Can they stop the driver from doing what he did? How many a times passengers shout at taxi drivers to drive responsibly? How many a times have passengers decided to drop off transport vehicles simply because of irresponsible drivers driving recklessly? The driver is alive and the passenger received the bullet, very sad indeed. What kind of STUPID, reckless and heartless soldiers do we have? Are these type of trigger happy soldiers the ones that are supposed to protect us?
    What an irresponsible government that does not even care to say we are sorry for the loss of an innocent life who was not the driver of the taxi? What an irresponsible government for not acknowledging that the bullet that killed an innocent passenger coming from a stupid soldier is regrettable? A soldier who cannot aim and hit a target is a tragedy and should be removed from the army.
    Why didn’t they appease the population by insisting that such a sad mistake will never happen again and that the soldier that shot the fatal bullet will be identified and court marshalled accordingly.
    My heart bleeds angrily. Gambians don’t deserve this criminal government headed by an angry bushman on a hunting spree.
    Jammeh, his soldiers and government are in an advance paranoic state of mind. The slightest noise or suspicions is considered a potential coup d’etat in the making.
    Jammeh should be removed by ALL means necessary failing which the Gambia is heading into a confusion and desperation that would lead to CHAOS.

  2. The trouble with the Gambian situation, is that outrage at this sort of criminal behaviour, is not expressed enough by the people that really matter…

    And if I know The Gambia well, and I think I do, except for the isolated, unseen and unheard voices, or the distant ones in the Diaspora, this death will be attributed to “ndogally Yalla” (God’s decree) and “normal” life will resume, as if nothing happened…

    The people on the ground need to challenge Yaya Jammeh’s rule of impunity and make him realise that the people are not happy with this reckless and unnecessary taking of life, in the name of their security. ..

    Yaya Jammeh is refusing to be a sensible human being because he is not feeling any pressure at home, at all…The only pressure that is being exerted on him is coming from abroad and he doesn’t seem to care because it’s got little or no personal impact on him and his family (wife & kids)…

    These measures may affect the economy but they have little impact on Yaya Jammeh because he continues to receive a regular flow of cash into state house (which matters to him most) and his wife is still an unhindered globe trotter…

    Gambians will continue to be victims of Jammeh’s rule of paranoia, until they stand up against him and his thugs and show him that “enough is enough”..

    • Mana Ous

      Bax, this is the spirit we want in PDOIS. However, for all the while i have been there, there is never any time such strong sentiment ever express for the people to flood the streets and say enough is enough. And without strong statement from the opposition/people on the ground, victimization will continue. Thank you.

  3. We must approach this subject with caution.

    I agree 100% with Honourable Mai Fatty..that Justice for all the victims of State procured and sponsored violence has to take the appropriate course as dictated by Law, Transparent and Acountable Procedure and Justice.

    It is then and only then that the victims and there loved ones can find closure.

    The soldiers who killed without discrimination, throughout, the reign of the APRC government, must be brought to answer, the allegations that they were acting under orders. Who issued those orders ? and does the chain of command extend to The Office of The President. ?

    The report confirmed by the United Nations Special Rapateur, of State sponsored Torture of suspects, particularly by Members of the NIA, said to be institutionalised, at NIA Headquarters, requires the most searching public enquiry.

    Again we must learn from evidence, where the chain of command extends, with appropriate public scrutiny, and where proved, appropriate criminal proceedings and sentancing.

    Regarding empowering soldiers to shoot at Tyres, is not an appropriate method of averting significant loss of life. A car travelling at speed, out of control, becomes a dangerous lethal weapon.

    Who can say that the bullet that killed Ya Binta, was not aimed at a tyre, in the chase, described by Gambian Police.?

    The Police statement makes it clear, that the measures taken by Gambian security forces, in the killing of Ya Binta, were as a direct result of the aborted coup of December 30th 2014.

    The suspicion is that soldiers were under orders to shoot to kill any unappropriate conduct. We must learn through evidence, whether if such orders were present and under whose authority.

    Was the actions of the security forces, commensurate with the threat posed ?

    In all these actions the ultimate responsibility for proceedure lies ultimately with President Jammeh. His position must be clear and his reaction, must be unequivical and precise, as part of his oath of Office…and guided by appropriate Law.

    Finally, the tragic events of Saturday evening, sends an unmistakable message to the International community, Ambassadors and counrty advise for travellers to Gambia.

    There is clear and present danger, to all citizens.

    There reaction must come with appropriate caution, with demands from the Gambian government, that public safety..can be guaranteed.

  4. I don’t think it is the role of PDOIS to tell people to flood the streets. Mana should have directed that responsibility to the Civil Society organizations not political parties. We must push the civil society to play their role as well.What PDOIS or other parties should do is to continue with not only the enlightenment process but to challenge impunity and show how reckless government policy is on the people and make alternative policies. The best example of this is Senegal. However before people could play their rightful role, they must be sensitized and organized. An unorganized people are weak especially when they are unenlightened. The Civil society is almost non existent. Where are the workers unions? They hardly exist or are rendered dormant. Their purported leaders are just looking for the daily ‘Kopari Ndawal’. Where are the so called Transport unions? What are they saying about this incident? One would have thought that by now they should have raised eyebrows regarding the driver whose whereabouts are unknown and begin to start investigations on their own on the matter.
    Observation has shown that PDOIS and other parties are trying to do their part, in fact more than their mandate giving the situation on the ground. They are not only doing their work as political activists but also playing the role of unions by helping the workers to fight their cases.However, giving the laws, they cannot openly agitate for people to flood the streets as suggested by Mana but they can express disapproval and condemn any action in the press and show how unlawful a particular action is. I think they are doing that Listen to OJ on the Online condemning the bannings of vegetable imports and betteing. An enlightened and organized citizenry would always know what to do in such circumstances without anybody agitating them to do so. Sometimes it is counter productive if it involves politicians.

  5. Mana Ous. ….

    I don’t think it will be fair to single out any individual or group for criticism…I think collectively, The Gambian People, who continue to be treated with contempt by their own “government”, have failed to stand up to Yaya Jammeh and his thugs, and are therefore counting the cost for that…

    I do agree that the opposition parties could play a significant role towards achieving mass actions against Jammeh, but I also think that the population must show readiness to back the opposition…

    Otherwise, any half hearted action.will only be an opportunity for Jammeh to crack down on the opposition and their supporters in general….Furthermore, it is usually ordinary people, especially the youths, that stand up against oppression and initiate mass action to change the situation…The Gambian Youths owe that duty to the nation but have not yet mustered the courage to live up to it…

    In whatever way it happens or whatever act of impunity it takes to trigger it, the people who face the brunt of this rule of terror, must stand up for themselves and end it definitively…Because Yaya Jammeh is incapable of change and will never change…

    The longer he stays in power, the more ruthless and daring…This act just shows how meaningless his offer of reconciliation was…

  6. Lafia Touray la Manju

    ”Who can say that the bullet that killed Ya Binta, was not aimed at a tyre, in the chase, described by Gambian Police.?”- Micheal Scales

    My friend, please don’t add insult to injury. This, by all accounts, is an indiscriminate and disproportionate use of lethal force. The Tyres are the things that a car sits on. So that’s almost at ground level and it is not where you will find passengers sitting.

    If this happens in the UK, the IPCC will not even hesitate to bring forward a murder charge. That’s for sure.


  7. Jammeh continues to turn once a peaceful nation into a very dangerous place to live……The gambia security forces under Jammeh have killed more gambians than they ever protected under this regime. Many more innocent gambians get killed by Jammeh’s close security team whose stories never get to the online papers.
    hope some day there will be justice for all those innocent gambians who got kiiled,imprisoned and maimed etc by this regime.

  8. Lafia, I think youv’e been watching too many Hollywood movies.

    So you would allow shots to be fired ? At ground level ?

    At high speed….the vehicle, would lose control, and become a potential leathal weapon….to the passengers, other road users, and pedestrians.

    When bullets hit any object they splinter.

    No bullets…no deaths.

    The British Police have strict code of conduct . Sometimes they will let the vehicle go if it becomes a danger to the general public. It is upto the officers and those who command to set the methods to safely bring the vehicle to rest…and apprehend the suspect.

    Many Thanks chum.

    • Lafia Touray la Manju

      So that means they can fire shots indiscriminately and not caring who is hit or killed?? You probably need to find out what constitutes murder.


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