By Mustapha Jallow
A group of distraught relatives from different families stormed the Foroyaa office on Saturday to report that 8 of their loved ones were arrested in Banjul and detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters since Tuesday, 1 December, 2015.
According to them, it was 10 people, comprising both men and women, young and old, who were initially arrested at different times on the same day but two of them were released the following day.
The family sources further revealed that the arrests occurred when 6 men, including the driver, came to their compound called Dibba Kunda at 7 Long Street in Banjul around 3am in a white pick-up with tinted glasses and identified themselves as NIA operatives.
“They came with a list and started calling out the names of people who they said were under arrest and should go with them to their office,” said one of the relatives.
The people who were arrested at Long Street and held at the NIA are said to be Ma Abdoulie Dibba, Sheriff Dibba, Kebba Darboe, Fatou Dibba, Awa Dibba and Fatou Jammeh.They said Amie Marong, a lactating mother, and Ya Ndey Njie,an expectant mother, are the ones who were released the following day.
The source added that Binta Bojang of 20 Grant street was picked up at her home around 4am,whileYusupha Jammeh was arrested in the same street around 2pm.
“The small kids of some of the arrested women were left alone in their rooms crying until neighbours had to call their relatives staying in the Kombos to come and take care of them,” disclosed Mustapha John, a relative of one of the arrestees.
Mr. John added that when they heard about the arrest of their loved ones they could not visit the NIA headquarters in Banjul as it was in the wee hours of the morning.
“When we went there in the morning, we were allowed in and asked to wait at the reception. Someone later came to tell us that we would not be allowed access to them and should leave the premises,” said one of the ladies whose mother was among those arrested.
She claimed that whenever they make attempts to visit them at their place of detention, the NIA officials would tell them that their loved ones will be released as soon as they are done with their investigations.
“We were initially allowed to take food to them which we leave with the officials but this was abruptly stopped with the explanation that food should not be taken to them,” she added.
The relatives said they were not given any reason as to why their family members are being held at the NIA.
“Binta Bojang’s mother is very old and she (Binta) is the one who takes care of her. Now the old woman is suffering because there is no one around to be regularly feeding, washing and changing her clothes,” said another woman.
The relatives said they are calling the attention of the authorities to the plight of their loved ones and for them to secure their release.
The eight are now held for more than 72 hours in violation of section 19 of the Constitution which states “Any person who is arrested or detained… who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court of law and, in any event, within 72 hours.”