Gunjur Police Station Faces Allegation of Negligence over Escape of Detainees
Tuesday 25 August | Yero S. Bah
Several residents and natives of Gunjur have recently levelled allegations of negligence
against officers of Gunjur Police post in the sprawling coastal settlement over what they called “the frequent escape of detainees” kept at the said police station. The Kombo South seaside town has recently experienced high level of violent theft and burglary incidents coasting victims hundreds of thousands Dalasis.
One such native who corroborated the allegations is Mr. Mustapha Ceesay, a final year technical and construction student at Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) whose HP-Laptop and Sonny Ericson smart phone was stolen few days before the Muslims festival of Eid, also locally called Tobaski.
According to the theft victim Mustapha Ceesay, the incident occurred between 4am and 5am on a Sunday night when he was already asleep in his bedroom, the alleged thieves broke his door, entered his room and took his laptop and mobile phone. He said:
“I realized this when I woke up to use the bathroom minutes after the incident, that I actually realized my materials were missing in the room; and that is how I peeped outside and saw one of the alleged thieves rushing to the compound gate trying to escape.” Ceesay narrated.
From this point, Mustapha Ceesay immediately chased after the alleged culprit towards the gate and was able to apprehend him after a real tussle, wrestling him down on the ground, adding that, at that moment he shouted out to his brother for help and that is how his elder brother and some neighbours came out who assisted him to tie the hands of the alleged thief.
“After we managed to control the culprit, we were able to disarm him as he was carrying a pair of scissors and a long-knife attached around his waist.” Ceesay added.
The complainant continued that; they beat the alleged thief with wire cables and even poured water on him. However, some in the crowd advised them to stop the beatings otherwise whatever happens to the alleged thief they will be held responsible and from then on they stopped beating the culprit and decided to keep him at home until around 9am before taking him to the Gunjur Police Station. Upon arrival at the police station, they handed over the alleged thief to the police officers and all those who took the culprit to the station were asked to write their statements on the case.
According to Mustapha Ceesay, the alleged thief Momodou Mballow alias ‘Ancha’ is originally from Brikama-Ba village in Central River Region. He was kept at the Gunjur Police Station for three days before his case was investigated and the process to transfer him to the Prosecution Office in Brikama was underway for a court hearing. However, they were told that due to the coronavirus outbreak, such court hearings were not taking place and that the remand wing in Brikama too was not taking in new detainees or prisoners due to coronavirus.
Further narrating the situation, Mr. Ceesay revealed that they decided to take the culprit to the Brikama Police Station to keep him there until the following day for a possible prosecution arrangement but it never materialized as the Brimaka Police Station was also under renovation and that they cannot take in many detainees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, a CID officer who wants to remain anonymous was assigned to investigate the case, had already completed his investigations but decided to drop the culprit at the Sifoe Police Station on the first day from the Brikama Police Station and Prosecution Office since they were asked to report to Brikama Police Station and Prosecution Office the following day because since neither prosecution nor detention of the alleged thief was possible in Brikama for the first and second day.
However, the alleged notorious criminal Mballow was finally taken back to Gunjur Police Station after few days at Sifoe Police Station and was kept at the Gunuur Police Station for days pending possible prosecution in Brikama. Unfortunately, it was during this prosecution waiting period that the alleged thief Momodou Mabllow escaped from the custody of the Gunjur Police.
“The CID officer, Bah called me one day and told me that the notorious culprit Momodou Mballow has escaped from the Gunjur Police.” Complainant Ceesay added.
Meanwhile, when contacted by GunjurOnline, the Officer-In-Charge at the Gunjur Police Station who wishes to remain anonymous has also narrated their side of the story and largely corroborated the complainant’s version of the case saying the alleged thief was brought to the station by Mustapha Ceesay, and others with his hands tied.
He explained that a case file was immediately opened for the accused and statements of the complainants were also taken and the culprit was charged on ‘house breaking and stealing’ on the spot, adding that the accused had confessed that the stolen laptop and mobile phone were taken by his accomplice or the second alleged thief who still remained at large with the stolen properties belonging to Mr. Mustapha Ceesay, an advance diploma final year construction student at the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).
The officer commanding at the said police station accepted their fault on the escaped alleged culprit describing Mballow as a ‘notorious or harden’ criminal saying they know him very well and will get him arrested again very soon as the culprit is known in many police stations around the country and that the Mballow alias ‘Ancha’ is under the police radar.
He noted that, the police at Gunjur station together CID officer who was assigned to this case even went up to Fajikunda Dumos to search for the second accused thief. “We know Mballow very well, as he was involved in so many other cases both here and other police stations around the country.” The anonymous police head said.
However, the head of the Gunjur police Station disputed allegations that, detainees frequently do escape from his station saying it is only Momodou Mballow who has ever escaped from their police station since its inception; adding that the police officer who was on duty at the time of the escape is under police disciplinary measures but hinted that further decisions could be charge against the officer if necessary.
The Gunjur Police Station head did admit that, as a station, they are encountering numerous problems or challenges but will not mention it to the media, noting that they are security ones, he however said that they are working cooperatively to re-arrest these ‘harden criminals’ as he described them.
He explained that the new coronavirus protocols demanded that, detainees that are to be taking for prosecution be given facemasks which his station could not provide to detainees at the moment and remand wing at Brikama is not taking in new prisoners or detainees due to the pandemic.
However, the complainant Mustapha Ceesay said he is just interested in recovering his laptop where all his lecture notes are kept and mobile phone but threatens to go to court if the Gunjur Police doesn’t re-arrest the culprits or retrieve his stolen materials accusing the police of negligence.
As for the head of Gunjur police station, his assurance to the people of Gunjur is that they will do everything possible to get the culprits and bring them to book, whilst admitting negligence on this case but with arguments that prisoners do escape even in most advanced prison facilities around the globe.