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OPINION: Epoch of systematic repression on environmental advocacy in The Gambia


The case of Yaya Saho vs Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd

Dear Readers, I am respectfully writing to shed light on the arrest, detention, and planned prosecution of Yaya Saho of Gunjur Village. Yaya Saho was arrested by officers of Gunjur Police Station on Friday 29th June, 2018 and rushed to Brusubi Police Station where he was detained and denied a bail until the late hours of Monday 2nd July, 2018 when he was granted a bail.


 Omar A J Saho decries the treatment meted out to his family as a result of his environmental activism

The reason that led to his arrest and detention is that, there was a fracas which broke - out between him and officials of the Chinese Fishmeal Factory in Gunjur Village called Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd sometime around Mid - June 2017 over the trespassing, intimidation, and threatening in our compound in May 2017. In May 2017, it was one Ba – Nuha Barrow of Gunjur village and two Chinese officials of the said company who trespassed into my family compound to threatened and intimidated our mother, and forcefully touched my wife to call me over my environmental advocacy for speaking against environmental pollution of The Bolong Fenyo Community Wildlife Reserve in the village by the Fishmeal Company in 2017. My family immediately reported the matter to Gunjur Police Station, yet no charges were pressed, and the family was kept in limbo about the progress of whole case. Out of frustration, Yaya who is a member of my family, and as well work as a fisherman at Gunjur Beach visited the Chinese company in an attempt to confront them about the issue. But the incident resulted in a fracas between him and the officials of Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd. The officials of Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd reported the matter to Gunjur Police Station resulting to the arrest and detention of Yaya at Brusubi Police Station forthwith, and presently plan on arraigning him before Brusubi Court on Monday. For your reference: We have lodged our complaint to Gunjur Police Station since May 2017, and they were unable to process our complaint against the said company for 14 months. That resulted to the recent incident between Yaya and the officials of Chinese Fishmeal Company, but the police are able to get Yaya arrested, detained and prosecuted over the same case! I. First: My family was trespassed and threatened by officials of Golden Lead Import & Export Company Ltd and we insisted on doing the right thing by following the due process of the law, by reporting to Gunjur Police Station. II. Second: They attempted to offer me bribe at a tone of USD$1, 000 in an effort to silence me over the environmental advocacy in The Gambia, yet I chose my integrity over the bribe, all of which were explained in the content of the same case reported at Gunjur Police Station. Sadly seeing Gunjur Police Station arresting, detaining and arraigning Yaya on trial at Burusubi Court over the recent fracas is a liability of Gunjur Police Station failing to address the case throughout. The action of the Station Officer (Mr. Suntu Keita) keeping the case in limbo for over a year without contacting the complainants is not only a display of unprofessionalism, but also an apparent failure of protecting my family against violations committed by the officials of the company in 2017, resulting to the recent incident.


Yaya Saho granted bail to appear in court on Monday 9th July

In fact, during a phone conversation with the Station Officer of Gunjur Police Station in June 2017 while I was in Asia, He alleged that the central government might feel that is a sabotage on the new government if the police take any legal action against the accused persons of Golden Lead Import and Export Company Ltd, since the two countries have diplomatic relationship, and they (the Chinese) have a memorandum of understanding with The Gambia Government. Also, he stated that is his superiors “of senior police charter” who intervene in the case because if the case is prosecuted the defendant can pay for charges and they don’t know how the defendant will retaliate. He further stated that in any case, the authorities do come together and decide that; there are matters sometimes to arraign before court while others are settled outside by talking to both parties to compromise. Ironically, our 2017 case was neither prosecuted nor compromised among the parties. Since the commencement of the recent case two weeks ago, is only Yaya who is subjected to countless reporting to Brusubi Police Station, and the complainant has never stand in the presence of the defendant to have their version of the case before him at both Gunjur Police and Burusubi Station where he was detained for 3 days before granting him a bail. Gunjur Police Station in knowing too well about the background of the recent case should have known better on how to resolve the situation, than allowing the case to reach this proportion. The Police are entrusted with the duty of maintaining law and order of providing protection and fair play for citizens. Meanwhile, Yaya will be arraigned before Brusubi Magistrate Court on Monday and I remained enthusiastic that justice will one day prevail as we yearned in December 2016 Presidential election. 

Editor’s note:

Views expressed here are those of the author and does not necessarily represent the views and position GunjurNewsOnline. 

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