By; Kebba AF Touray
Two PIU personnel told the Faraba Banta Commission yesterday 13 August that the PIU personnel that were sent to Faraba Banta were armed with AK 47 rifles. This Commission is charged to probe into the circumstances surrounding the 18th June 2018 Faraba Banta incident.
In his testimony, Inspector Ba Foday Njie of the Kanifing PIU said his platoon were armed with rubber cops, guard shields, batons, 3 gas guns, helmets and 2 AK 47 rifles given to two of his officers, whose name he said he could not recall. He said he led the platoon from Kanifing to Faraba. He further said they were at the village on guard for three days prior to the actual date on standby, to ensure that mining was done unhindered but on the D day they were sent by their Superintendent for reinforcement.
He added that while at Pirang village on his way to Faraba Banta, he received a call form ASP Balla Musa Fatty who asked him of his whereabouts and when he responded that he was at Pirang going to Faraba, ASP Musa told him to hurry up. He said he then asked his driver to speed up because he felt that Musa was in trouble. He added that ASP Fatty made a second call and this time he (the witness) told ASP Musa Fatty that he was already in Faraba Banta; that ASP Fatty then advised him to use the access road constructed by Julakay to avoid being attacked by the villagers and he did as instructed.
He said he then ordered his men to come down and make formations. He said the group begun engaging them and he told ASP Musa that he will try to engage the group to allow them access their truck. He said the group started stoning them from about 20 metres and he ordered the use of gas gun to retreat the group, which he said was successful. He testified that no arrest was effected by his platoon and could neither see any officer carrying a rifle nor an injured villager. He further said he was together with O/C Babucarr Cham on standby in the area to see the reaction of the villagers, but have not seen any reaction from the villagers and they got an order to go back to Brikama.
The other PIU personnel to testify, SGT Samba Ndong was the third witness. He told the Commission that on 18 June he was at the PIU in Kanifing and they were ordered to go to Faraba and were armed with AK 47 and live rounds with the serial number 1602895 and they had shields and batons, smoke guns and rifle. According to him ASP Fatty made a proclamation that it was not right for the villagers to gather there and should disperse failure of which necessary actions will be taken, to which the villagers failed to pay heed and they used tear gas to disperse them.
Nfamara IBL Jarjue, the second witness of the day also testified that on the 18th June he was in his house in Faraba Banta between the hours of 8 and 9 in the morning and saw a crowd comprising youth, males and females who were going towards the mining site and insulted him and were threatening to kill him, burn his motorbike and house. He said he advised his family to leave the street and get inside the house. He said his family left and went to his sister’s house and he also escaped through the back door with his motorbike and while he was going he saw a group who chased him with stones, sticks and catapults.
He said he left for Ndemban and was there for 4 days; then he moved to Nyoro Jataba where he decided to do farming and came back to Brikama to see his family and find out the outcome of the attack. He told the Commission that the youth burnt and destroyed his house, removing his corrugated roof, windows and doors. He stated that the villagers agreed for Jualakay to mine in Faraba and should fulfill the agreement set with him.
At this stage he tendered the list of destroyed items and was shown some pictures of burnt houses and he identified picture CE 14N as his burnt house and were admitted and marked as exhibit CE 42.