By Kebba Jeffang
Mr. Lamin B. Jarju, the Alkalo of Babylon village in the Kombo North District, West Coast Region (WCR), has finished his evidence in chief in a trial involving him and twelve other people from the same village and was cross examined by the prosecutor on Tuesday, 2nd July, 2014 before Principal Magistrate Dayoh M. Small Dago of the Brikama Magistrate’s court.
Continuing his evidence, Alkalo Jarju responded to a question from his counsel, Borry S. Touray on whether he knew or had ever quarreled with the Inspector General of Police. He responded in the affirmative, adding that he got into a matter with the IGP. He explained that on the 26th March, 2013 at his home in Babylon between 3am to 4am in the morning, he received police commissioner of the West Coast Region, Benjamin Wilson, who said he was sent by IG of police. He said Benjamin came with his people while he was taking bath and they started knocking his door until they destroyed and forcefully entered the house. He added that his children were even asking the police personnel that it is not necessary to destroy the door, but that they never listened to them.
“All my people were asked to go outside after which they conducted search in every part of my house and took away any phone that they saw. They last searched my own room and they wanted to take me away naked and I insisted that I will put on my clothes. While searching, they took away my two mobile phones and my wife’s mobile with cash amount of Eighty Thousand Dalasi (80, 000.00). I was beaten until I got injured on my hand. I was beaten with gun head while I was coming down from upstairs. I was not told what I did up to now. I was taken to New Yundum police station naked and when my children saw me they were shouting as they have never seen me naked,” Jarju told the court.
He said it was his friend, Ba Saikou Ceesay, who brought his clothes to the police station and he was also arrested. He said they then took him to Mile 2 from where he was taken to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital the following morning for treatment. He said he was beaten by many people until his body, ribs and legs were injured and that he is still having that certificate with him.
“I was denied access to my lawyer even though I knew that he was there. IGP told me about the presence of my lawyer but I was not allowed to see him. IGP told me in his office that I should leave my lawyer because he went to him but that they could not understand each other and if I don’t want frequent arrest, I should leave my lawyer,” Alkalo Jarju added.
Mr Jarju adduced that the IGP did not physically came to him when he was arrested, but that he sent the WCR police Commissioner,Wilson, to forcefully arrest him. “IGP told me that the Chief of Kombo North and Paramount Chief of the Gambia, Demba Sanyang, and the former Governor of West Coast Region, Lamin Sanneh, told him about the letter concerning him (Jarju) but that he did not tell him about the contents of it.’ He said.
“I was never invited before this incident in the office of the IGP and that I was never also invited for a dialogue at the police station. I could not be able to attend the meeting because I was advised to go there with my elders who at a time were not around,” he said.
He said he would recognize the said invitation letter that was sent for him to attend a meeting from the office of the IGP. When a document was shown to him, he said that was it.
Defence counsel applied to tender the said document as evidence.
It was objected to by the prosecuting officer, Chief Inspector Camara, on the grounds that the letter is not from IGP directly but instead from the police commissioner who sent the letter to the Governor. He further objected that there is no stamp but only the signature and therefore its authenticity is questionable and asked the court to overrule the application.
The trial magistrate said as far as he is concerned the indication of the content of the letter is that Police Commissioner is acting on behalf of the IGP and therefore would grant the application. The invitation letter was admitted and marked as Exhibit DE7.
Alkalo Jarju said he further received another invitation letter the following week but he did not attend that one also because his uncle was still away. “This was what had annoyed the IGP and as a result, he sent Benjamin Wilson (police Commissioner) to attack and injures me, damaged my properties, stole my money etc. I was released by IGP himself because when he saw my serious injuries he could not bear it. IGP came and wanted to demarcate Babylon and the surrounding villages,” he said.
Under cross examination, the first accused person told the court that he did know the farm of Francis Mendy (complainant) that is in Makumbaya. He dismissed the allegation that he connived with his men to cut down 275 cashew trees, adding that he is not a machine to be able to cut down such a huge number of trees in a short time. He said he had once got a problem with Makumbaya village in 2008 but after that there was no problem.
The case is adjourned for today, Thursday, 3 July, 2014 for the second defence witness to testify.