By Mustapha Jallow

The Imam of Kanifing of South, Alhagi Ousman Sawaneh, is still held incommunicado at the Janjanbureh Prison in the Central RiverImam Sawaneh of Kanifing South Mosque Region (CRR) without court appearance or access to family members, a relative of the imam told this medium.

According to family sources, Imam Sawaneh’s daughter had just passed away some days ago and that they have done the burial in his absence. ‘‘It was a nightmare and sad day when I was informed that one of the daughters of the Imam had passed away. This is really agony for the entire family members as we have lost someone so special to us. His father couldn’t even witness the burial because of this detention without charge or release. We pray that her soul will rest in peace and granted in heaven,’’ he added.

It was reported that  Imam was picked up by unidentified men in civilian clothes around 10 am on Sunday, 18 October, 2015, while leading a team of volunteers to clear the grass in the Kanifing South Cemetery. His whereabouts were not initially known to the family but he was later traced to the NIA headquarters in Banjul. He was later transferred from the NIA to Janjangbureh Prison on the 27 October, 2015.

Family sources say that 2 men in civilian clothes came to their house and asked for the Imam. They said they told the said men that Imam Sawaneh had gone to the Cemetery. The 2 men, then requested for his phone number which was given to them. “After giving them the number, they left and did not disclose to us what their mission was but an eyewitness who was with the imam at the cemetery came and told us that he saw him being approached by two men who asked to see him in private and later went with him. We then called his cell phone but it was switched off and that was the time we began searching for him until he was finally traced to the NIA. He is now currently held incommunicado at Janjanbureh prison in the Central River Region (CRR),” a family source lamented.

A family source said that they were hoping that their loved one would be released before the commencement of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as the court had already ordered the state to do so but he is still held incommunicado without access to family members.

With the filing of a writ of habeas corpus by the Imam’s family, the high court in Banjul ordered for the Imam’s release on Monday, 21 March, 2016, either conditionally or unconditionally.

Family members have said they do not know why he is still held in spite of the court order for his release. They have expressed their concerns over the detention of their loved one and are urging the authorities to release him.