By Mustapha Jallow
Sheikh Omar Colley, an Imam of a mosque in Jabang Borehole, who was arrested on Thursday, 15 October, 2015, is still being held incommunicado for 252 days today.
According to one of his brothers, the family is still not informed about his whereabouts or allowed access to him at the reported place of detention in Janjangbureh prison in rural Gambia.
“Since we were informed about his possible transfer from the NIA office in Banjul to Janjangbureh, we have made several unsuccessful attempts to visit and take clothes and food to him but the prison authorities would not allow us to see or give him these things,” disclosed the family source.
He said the family, especially the wife and children of his brother, is very much worried about his condition and state of health in detention at this remote prison outpost.
“His family is traumatised and desperate as their loved one and sole breadwinner is held for months without any known crime said to be committed by him,” said the brother.
He said the family is calling on the authorities to release the Imam from detention to enable him to reunite with his family and religious congregation in Jabang.
It was earlier reported by this medium that following his arrest, Imam Colley was 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.
According to his brother, Imam Colley was at home when he received a telephone call from someone, who claimed to be calling from Bansang Police Station and asking him to report to Old Yundum police station. This unknown caller was said to have told Imam Colley to call him with his mobile phone when he reached the station so that he (the caller) could talk to the station officer (SO). He said this was said to be around the time when the Imam was about to go to the mosque to perform his ‘Maghreb’ (twilight) prayers.
The brother 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 to enter into the cell. He said the brother then complied with this police order.
The brother told this reporter that 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 was 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 there before his current detention at CRR prison.
He said that Imam Colley was held incommunicado at the NIA headquarters in Banjul for 48 days and that while they were making efforts to access him, they received information that the Imam had been transferred from the NIA to Janjangbureh Prison in the Central River Region (CRR).