By Mustapha Jallow
A religious leader at the Kanifing South mosque, Imam Alhagi Ousman Sawaneh has today spent 27 days in detention without trial at Janjanbureh Prison in the Central River Region (CRR), a family source tells Foroyaa.
According to a family source, the Imam is still held without any access to him and that they are seriously concerned about his situation which they say is affecting the family including the young ones. “We tried our best to access him but we were not even allowed to see him at his place of detention,” a distraught family member said.
He added that the Imam has no access to clothes and that they do not know how he is treated there. “We took clothes and toiletries for him but the NIA agents refused to take them to him, we are deeply worried and concerned about the present situation of our father who is being detained,” a concerned family source told Foroyaa.
Family members are calling on the authorities to release him or at least allow them access to see him. They also said they have no clue why the Imam was arrested and placed behind bars.
Earlier reports have indicated that Imam Sawaneh was missing and later traced to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul. Sources say that the Imam was transferred to Janjanbureh Prison in the Central River Region (CRR) since the 27th of October, 2015.
The Imam was said to be escorted by members of the NIA from their headquarters in Banjul to Brikamaba Police station, where they stopped and entered the station. Sources added that the said men later boarded their vehicle and took him to Janjanbureh Prison where he is currently detained without trial.
Residents in his neighbourhood who see him as a good leader in the mosque and in society, expressed total surprise regarding his arrest. “I was shocked when I received Information of the arrest of the Imam, I could not do anything but just pray for him to be released from detention,” a neighbour told Foroyaa.
Earlier reports indicate that Imam Sawaneh was picked up by unidentified men in plain clothes around 10 am on Sunday, 18 October, 2015, while leading a team of workers to clear the grass in the Kanifing Cemetery. He was later whisked away to an unknown destination. His family members searched for him and finally traced him to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
The continued detention of Imam Sawaneh is in contravention of the Constitution which stipulates in section 19 that upon expiration of 72 hours the detainee should either be released or taken before a court.