By Mustapha Jallow
The country’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh, yesterday said: ‘‘If Lance Corporal Bojang was taken to the State Intelligence Service and then sustained bruises, it is something that would be investigated to ascertain what actually was responsible for the bruises.’’ The Gambia’s military chief was speaking to Foroyaa amongst other issues, on the constitutionality of detaining military officers beyond 72 hours, without being brought before a court of law.
The military chief acknowledges the unconstitutionality of detaining any citizen of the country beyond 72 hours without bringing the person to court, and further said that they are trying everything possible to make sure that ‘‘we live by those constitutional provisions.
‘‘Some of our processes are painstakingly slow and when it comes to national security, we want to make sure that we do due diligence, to be able to ascertain what exactly happened. It is not anybody’s wish to keep a person detained for nothing but again circumstances dictate that in the military there are procedures to be followed and those procedures are what we need to use to determine exactly what transpired. Sometimes those things can go beyond what’s constitutionally mandated. The military would do anything possible to expedite the process and then take the necessary actions,’’ he said.
CDS Kinteh said to prosecute the soldiers, is not their decision but what the military has done was to carry out the investigations about the allegations against them, to be able to establish this.
‘‘As I’m speaking to you, we’ve already made our preliminary findings and we have forwarded our report to the ministry of justice for advice and further action that may be required,’’ he said.
On the allegation of risking attacks within the country, CDS Kinteh said the essence of the Armed Forces is to protect and safe guard the territorial integrity of the country and the military is doing this.
‘‘Our main focus is to secure this country and if there’s any attack, we are ever ready to face whatever direction it comes from. We’re prepared as members of the Armed Forces to be able to face the challenges but let us not be unduly alarmed by unfounded rumours. We’re carrying out our duties and responsibilities as a national army by gathering information on elements within and outside of this country, because we’re working in close partnership with our counterparts within the sub region and even beyond, to ensure that we are ahead of whatever is going to happen,’’ he said.
In conclusion, the CDS indicated that security is a collective responsibility and cannot be in the hands of one agency. He said it is a duty of every citizen of this country to be security conscious.
‘‘Citizens should be aware of rumours which can trigger undue alarm that can misdirect our thinking on our security. Let Gambians be conscious with what they say or do and let us be vigilant and observant. Anything that’s going to undermine the security of this country should be everybody’s concern,’’ he said.
Mr. Momodou Sowe, Director General of SIS (NIA), told this medium that the intelligence office would invite the press in due course, on the alleged torture of Lance Corporal Bojang while under interrogation at the Intelligence headquarters in Banjul.