By Mustapha Jallow
Sheikh Omar Colley, Imam of a mosque in Jabang Borehole, has been reported missing for 145 days now.
According to a family source, soon after his arrest he was detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul for 48 days without access to his family members. He said they have made effort to access him after they received information that he has been transferred from the NIA to Janjangbureh Prison in the Central River Region (CRR) but to no avail as they were told by the prison officers they met on duty that their brother is not held there.
‘‘We’re still searching for our brother because we are worried and concerned about his sudden disappearance. We went to the NIA and we were told that he is not in their custody anymore; then we later got information that he had been moved to CRR prison but they also told us he was not in their custody,’’ a concerned family source said.
‘‘We are also pleading with the authorities to come to our aid to help us find our brother, a breadwinner of his family. Our brother’s present situation is a real cause for concern as we do not know where and how he is being held. His two wives and numerous children are seriously worried about his present condition and state of health,” added the source.
Reports had earlier indicated that the ‘chef de garage’ or head of the Brikama car park in Banjul, was said to have been transferred from Yundum Police Station to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul less than a day after he presented himself there following instructions from a distant caller in Bansang.
It was also initially hinted to the family that he was at the NIA for 48 days before been transferred to Janjangbureh prison in the Central River Region (CRR). “We have been visiting this prison on many occasions to trace our brother but have always been told by the wardens that he is not held at the CRR prison,” a source revealed.
A family source indicated that on Thursday 15 October, 2015, while Imam Colley was at home he received a telephone call from someone, who claimed to be calling from Bansang Police Station and asked him to report to Old Yundum police station. He said this unknown caller told Imam Colley to call him with his mobile phone when he reaches the station so that he (the caller) could talk to the station officer (SO). He said this was around the time when his brother was about to go to the mosque to perform his ‘Maghrib’ (twilight) prayers.
The source further explained that they accompanied Mr. Colley to the station and while they were there, their brother called the said caller from Bansang to talk to the police they met there and who later asked him to hand over all his personal belongings e.g. mobile phone, wrist watch, rosary beads, etc., and enter the cell. He said the brother then complied with this police order.
A close family source said when they returned to the station around 7am the next day on Friday, they were told by the police officers they met there that their brother is no longer in their custody. He said the brother was later traced at the NIA headquarters in Banjul but they were denied access to him while he was held at the NIA before he went missing.
His detention has now exceeded the 72 hours duration which is in contravention of Section 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 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”.