BY KEBBA MAMBURAY
More witnesses continue to testify at the Commission of inquiry set up by the President, to probe into the Faraba Banta incident which led to the death of three people, leaving many others seriously injured, when live bullets was sprayed on unarmed demonstrators against sand mining in that community, on the fateful day of June 18th 2018.
On Friday July 20th 2018, Dawda Daffeh, testified before Commission Chairman Emmanuel Joof that on June 18th 2018, at the peak of the riots, a troop of PIU Officers approached the rioters and he heard their Commander giving them the command to ‘FIRE’, at the top of his voice; that all of a sudden, all hell broke loose as the Officers started emptying their rounds on the demonstrators; that the Officers first started firing tear gas canisters to disperse the rioters; that this was the time he also started to run for dear life, before entering one compound, to seek refuge.
Testifying in Mandinka, another witness Alhagie Camara, also said he ran into one compound unconscious because of the tear gas; that after gaining consciousness, he realized that his phone fell, and returned to collect his mobile amid heavy stoning by the villagers; that this was the time the rioters were overcome by the PIU and started to retreat.
Camara narrated that they ran up to the central praying ground, when he realized that his leg was trembling abnormally because of a bullet from a gunshot, which went through his thigh; that during all this time, he saw the PIU Officers chasing him and ran towards the Bantaba; that he was lucky to be assisted by some of the villagers who took him in and later took him to Brikama Health Centre, from where he was referred to Banjul’s EFSTH, for treatment. Camara said he saw some who were shot during the riot, in the persons of Jalang Darboe, Lamin Basowe Ceesay, Sheriffo touray, Pa Jammeh and Sainey Sonko including the three deceased who died of gunshots in the persons of the late Amadou Nyang, Bakary Kujabi and Ismaila Bah.
Prior to this information, Camara testified that the villagers agreed to first and foremost, block the road to vehicle entry with logs and stones, to prevent the trucks from passing; that they were waiting for trucks to come with the intention of staging a peaceful protest at the road block. He narrated that whilst at the road block, they welcome the officers who alighted from their trucks but surprised them with the firing of tear gas canisters at the crowd, who scattered amid panic and ran for safety; that the armed officers followed the scattered gathering and things started to go bad; that this was how he got shot from behind in his left lower leg. Camara thanked God for being lucky that the bullet did not hit his bone but penetrated through his flesh.
Another witness who testified before Commissioner Emmanuel Joof was Francis Jabang. Jabang testified that on 18th June 2018, he was not at the scene but at home; that the PIU Officers came to his compound with seals and batons but he denied them entry because he had disagreement with one of them; that he was hit with a baton on his upper arm and punched on his back; that one of them hit him on his forehead, that left a scar. Jabang said when he realized he was injured, he struggled and ran away from them; that the rioters then started stoning and the officers retreated. When asked if he was aware of a planned road block by the villagers, he answered in the positive but said as a soldier, he should not involve in such activities.
Sitting continues today.