By Madi Jobarteh
The so-called clarification by the Gambia Police Force that the unfounded comments made by Government Spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh soon after the September 12 unfortunate incident are based on preliminary information is indefensible and unacceptable. The Gambia Police Force is not a drama troupe. Rather GPF is a professional state institution occupied by well educated, trained, and well experienced experts in law enforcement and all that it entails. Hence the act of sharing false “preliminary information” is not acceptable.
What is expected is that the Police would have a level of expertise that they would have the trained intelligence to assess the nature and quality of any information given to them to determine its accuracy before relying on it, much more releasing it to the public as it were. To claim that the alleged murderer intended to kill dozens of PIU officers, and who worked for a local government office among other pieces of information is indeed a serious information to share with the public. To go further, to identify a wrong person’s picture as the face of the murderer is indeed unprofessional, inexcusable and must be addressed.
For that matter, both the IGP and the Government Spokesperson have no reason to continue to hold their offices anymore for this hugely unprofessional lapse. The consequence of this misconduct is far reaching as it has maliciously tainted the name and reputation of individuals and institutions. By identifying the killer as an employee of the Brikama Area Council whose chairman is engulfed in a sedition charge can only mean discrediting the Chairman as a violent person and putting the Brikama Area Council into disrepute. Therefore, both the IGP and the Government Spokesperson owe an unreserved apology to the Brikama Area Council, its chairman and to all Gambians for this unfounded information.
Furthermore, by identifying a picture of another person as the killer means inciting violence against that man. All patriotic Gambians are hugely perturbed by this attack hence to identify an innocent man as the killer means potentially causing anyone to attack the innocent man. The IGP and the Government Spokesperson must understand that in the moment of anger, they should be careful in naming anyone publicly as a killer lest it generates mob justice against him. Yet, the IGP and the Government Spokesperson do not seem to have the sense to retract and apologize to this innocent man.
It is therefore disappointing and irresponsible for the Police to issue this statement in the first place as if they did not realize the gravity of the erroneous information shared by Ebrima Sankareh. For that matter, it is insensitive to claim that “sections of the society” are angry with their claims. Which section is that? The fact is all decent and patriotic Gambians should be justifiably angry with their statement. We cannot have a public institution such as the Police spreading false information about another public institution and claiming that it is based on preliminary information. What prevented the Police from calling the Brikama Area Council to verify that information first before releasing it to the public?
Furthermore, Ebrima Sankareh may be the Government Spokesperson, but it does not mean he is well placed to issue any Government information. The incident of September 12 is a matter squarely for the police and the public prosecutor to address. Its details are not for the Government Spokesperson because he is neither the President of the Republic nor a security officer hence, he is irrelevant to the issue. He should step behind the police as they provide the security details of the incident. One must know one’s boundaries regardless of what big titles one carries.
Considering this gross misconduct by the Office of the IGP and the Government Spokesperson there must be accountability to determine who and why this false information of national security proportions could be spread, falsely. The IGP cannot charge citizens for threatening public officials and giving false information to public officials, and yet that same Office of the IGP and the Government Spokesperson are also threatening citizens and public officials and spreading false information to the nation. There must be consequences.
For the Gambia Our Homeland