By:Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambedou has said that there will be appropriate criminal prosecutions against the perpetrators of the 18 June, 2018 Faraba Banta incident.
He said this at his Ministry in a press conference on the Gambia Government White paper on the report of the Faraba Banta Commission.
He said President Barrow in line with section 200 of the Constitution of The Gambia 1997 and the Commission of Inquiry Act Cap 30:01 Volume 5 of the Laws of The Gambia, has on 1 July 2018 established a Commission of Inquiry and mandated it to investigate into the circumstances, deaths, injuries, destructions, those who may have ordered shootings, those who fired the shots and any possible failure or breakdown in Police chain command that led to the shootings among others.
He said the findings indicated the resentment among the VDC and youth to the issuing of licence to Julakay Ltd without consultations, no proper conduct of environmental impact assessment in the area to be mined, failure of the National Environment Agency [NEA] to clearly demarcate the mining area under the licence granted to Julakay Ltd, disregard of the concerns of the villagers by both the NEA and Geological Department [GD], no attempts by both NEA and GD to allay the fears of the VDC and the villagers about these environmental concerns, the site granted to Julakay Ltd had the potential of adversely affecting the rice fields and the gardens of Women among others as circumstances that led to the standoff.
On the actions taken by government after receiving the report, he highlighted the removal of Alkalo[ Nuha Kujabi] in line with sections 144 and 145 of the Local Government Act, recommendation for the dissolution of the VDC in Faraba Banta by the Brikama Area Council as stipulated in section 96 of the Local Government Act, the dissolution of the Council of Elders at Faraba Banta, suspension of those persons at the NEA and GD directly responsible for the failure to follow established guidelines in the issuing of licence to Julakay Ltd, suspension of all sand mining activities in Faraba Bantan village until a proper environmental impact assessment is carried out by an independent consultant among others as measures taken by the government to avert occurrence at Faraba Banta Village.
On deaths, injuries and destruction of properties, he dilated that the Commission found inter alia PIU personnel indiscriminately opened fire at the gathered crowd at close range, PIU personnel were the only people armed with guns during the standoff, the PIU personnel that carried guns during the incident were also found after the incident to have lost ammunitions, namely ASP Musa Fatty, PC Musa Badjie, PC Nuha Colley and 1st Class Momodou Z Jallow. He added that Superintendent Babucarr Cham was at the scene throughout the disturbances; the Commission found as evidence adduced that he could be liable as a superior.
He disclosed that the government’s decisions include appropriate criminal prosecutions be initiated against all the perpetrators identified in the commission’s report for the willful destruction of properties and other related crimes in Faraba Banta.
He disclosed that communities be informed about any mining activities and construction of factories in their localities; communities must benefit from the proceeds of mining activities; the state must map out all potential mining sites; the use of the police to enforce the mining rights of licence holders when there are unresolved conflicts between the communities and licence holders as some of the measures to avoid re-occurrences in other parts of the country.
“The government regrets the deaths, injuries and destructions of properties at Faraba Banta which occurred on 18 June, 2018. The government accepts the findings of the Commission [except as otherwise stated in this White Paper] and undertakes to implement the recommendations as contained in the Commission’s Report Submitted to the President on the 17 September 2018”, he said.