By: Madi Jobarteh
The arrest of Comedian Muhammed Darboe is an outright abuse of power and a direct attempt to intimate and silence him contrary to the Constitution of the Gambia. The comments Muhammed made for which he was abducted are within his rights as a citizen and a comedian. His comments have not violated any law of the Gambia in any way. The IGP has no legal basis to arrest and detain him for 72 hours for which the IGP must be held accountable.
Even if Muhammed’s comments were said to constitute a crime and arrested for that, Muhammed should not have spent even a night under custody. He should have been released either on self-bail or put before a court without undue delay as required under Section 19 of the Constitution. Bailing Muhammed poses no risk because he was not going to flee, nor could he have interfered with any investigation or witnesses. Hence there was no legal or security basis for detaining a citizen for that long.
Furthermore, if the IGP has issues with Muhammed’s comments, one is bound to ask the IGP how he could have issues with Muhammed and not with others who also made a lot more unpleasant comments against other citizens. Not long ago, we had another comedian Baba Jah rain far more personal and reputational insults against the person of UDP leader Ousainou Darboe. If Pres. Adama Barrow and his wife Fatou Bah are above insults, is the IGP telling us that Ousainou Darboe on the other hand deserves insult such that he failed to arrest Baba Jah?
Therefore, what the arbitrary arrest and detention of Muhammed Darboe indicate is that the IGP is violating the Constitution and selectively applying the law. He is illegally serving the purpose and interest of political masters hence putting the Office of the IGP into disrepute. These actions indicate that the IGP does not fit to hold the position of IGP, and I hereby demand the IGP Abdoulie Sanyang resign or be sacked.
The Gambia Police Force is a constitutionally created institution which is under the authority of no person or authority. It is mandated in the Police Act to protect life, liberty and property of all citizens and residents of the Gambia without ill-will or favour. The GPF is not the defender of the President or his wives against the opinions of citizens. That is not the job of the police. The President has his official spokespeople and other institutions to speak for him including responding to his critics. The IGP should not involve in issues that are beyond his terms of reference lest he violates the law.
The arbitrary arrest and detention of Muhammed is beyond Muhammed. Citizens must realize that what the IGP is doing is seeking to intimidate and silence not only Muhammed, but in so doing also intimate and silence all citizens from criticizing the President and his wife and indeed anyone that the IGP wants to protect. Let us all demand the unconditional and immediate release of Muhammed and urge the IGP to refrain from such gross misconduct or resign from his position. The culture of intimidation of citizens by the IGP since 2017 has to stop.
The Police is a noble public institution in whose hands our rights and lives depend. This is why it is important that the police must act and be seen acting with fairness, justice, and professionalism at all times. This action by the IGP to arrest a citizen for merely expressing his opinion about the President is unfair, unjust, and unprofessional. Muhammed has committed no criminal offence and if the President and his wife feel offended, they have civil courts and other means to respond to Muhammed.
For The Gambia Our Homeland