(JollofNews) – Last week, the online Gambian news headlines was dominated by Gambian females and their rough treatment by officials of the government of Yahya Jammeh.
The online media must be congratulated for remaining faithful to the journalism principles of accuracy and high professionalism and for giving readers the true accounts of all that has transpired.
Freedom newspaper were on the scene of Ya Binta Jarju’s shooting within hours, claiming the taxi driver failed to stop because he was not wearing a seatbelt. He was subsequently fined D1, 000 on this count and D4, 000 for not having a driving licence. Altogether, the driver got a fine of D5, 000 approximately just £80.
Foroyaa newspaper covered the court proceedings and the witness statement from Ya Binta’s boyfriend Sulayman Bah, who graphically described the seating arrangements. Ya Binta sat behind the driver. This raises several suspicions over the explanation given by Police Spokesman ASP David Kujabi, who claimed that the soldiers fired live ammunition at the taxi to somehow disable it.
The question we must ask is whether the soldiers had aimed at the taxi driver when they pulled their triggers from the rear of the taxi and Ya Binta took a head shot as being directly in the line of fire? When asked about the shooter, Mr Kujabi is reported to have said there were several. I think it is fair to say that the normal procedure in any homicide investigation would be to collect the weapons from the shooters and to match the bullets recovered from the victim to the gun via forensic examination.
The shooter would then be questioned extensively as to what his intended target was when the gun was discharged. We must believe that a competent soldier should be able to aim at his target with a degree of accuracy before pulling the trigger. In the ensuing melee covered in darkness, was his target misdirected?
We must also be given a full explanation of why the soldiers left the scene of the crime and ignored the pleas of Mr Bah for Miss Jarju to be rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. It is stated that Miss Jarju was removed from the taxi and left to bleed to death. It was only residents from nearby houses where the taxi stopped after it was shot who gave assistance to Mr Bah’s urgent and forlorn pleas for help.
It is important that the Gambian police do not make any exceptions in established procedure of any crime scene. The fact that the killing has been attributed to the actions of the soldiers does not make this any better. If anything, it makes the matter all the more serious. The prime duty of the soldiers and the police is to protect the citizens. Not there expiry.
When considering the public spirited action of third year student of the University of the Gambia, Aminata Manneh, (known to her friends as Minah) to expose the savage flogging of an 11-year-old girl on Facebook, I cannot help but draw an equation to Malala Yousafzai. Miss Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban at age 14, as she journeyed to school. Minah’s whereabouts and personal safety are yet to be confirmed by the state, who are accused of abducting her by various reports in the ever diligent Gambian online media.
Having witnessed the gallantry, courage and fortitude of Gambian children on 10th April 2000, who stood arm in arm for their own protection of rights, this action by the state brings back some very uncomfortable memories. Such provocation by the state is ill-advised. Procedure governed by law reinforced by training and established protocol must take precedence over independent and misguided actions. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Only then can those wronged find closure.