President Adama Barrow assured members of the investigation panel into Faraba Banta bloody protest that government will do everything to allow them to deliver on expectations.
“I assure you of my government’s maximum support in providing the right environment for you to carry out your assignment effectively, without any interference,” said President Barrow on Thursday during the swearing-in ceremony of members of the Commission of Inquiry into the deadly protest at State House, Banjul.
Paramilitary forces on June 18 mounted full-scale crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding the end of sand mining activities in their area. The sad turn of events led to the death of three people and destruction of properties. Several protesters and law enforcement officers sustained serious injuries. The incident prompted President to travel to Faraba Banta village to empathize with bereaved families. He vowed to uncover the truth behind the incident.
President Barrow acknowledged that the commission has a challenging task to perform. But he was quick to express his confidence in the investigation panel members that they will do the right thing as they are guided by a level of competence, integrity, experience that would help them to “get to the bottom of the event and submit an impartial report for peace and justice to prevail.”
“It is important also for us to make sure that appropriate action is taken so that such incidents do not recur in the country,” he added.
Six policers allegedly linked to the Faraba shootings have been charged with murder by a Gambian court. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them.
“Clearly, the provision of credible information and pointers by those associated with the case is essential for the success of the Commission,” Barrow stated while calling on all those affected to collaborate with investigators in order to enable them to carry out their delicate duty successfully.
President reminded the gathering that Gambians ‘fought for change in order to improve the lot of every citizen and to make the tiny West African nation a better place for all.
“Although I trust that your recommendations will be without prejudice against anybody, I encourage you to investigate the incident with a high sense of discipline and honesty,”
Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou lauded President Barrow’s swift decision to set up a commission of inquiry to look into Faraba incident.
He said the move demonstrates Gambia gov’t commitment to democracy and rule of law.
The Investigation Panel Chair, lawyer Emmanuel Daniel Joof, who spoke to this reporter said they have been tasked with the mandate to submit their report within one month. He then added that there is possibility of a-month extension.
Weighing in on the composition of the team of investigators, Lawyer Joof made it clear that they cannot have a better team.
“If you look at the individuals that have been appointed, most of them are very seasoned. The majority are all lawyers,” he revealed.
Other commission members are Neneh MC Cham, Abdoulie Colley, Omar Cham and Yusupha Jallow. Charles Njie has been appointed the Inquiry Panel secretary.