By Omar Bah
The Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the June 18 deadly riots in Faraba has revealed that while there was no proper coordination of the police during the riot, “no orders were given by the police high command to shoot at the crowd”.
According to the report which was released with a government white paper yesterday, the PIU personnel who fired on the villagers did so without lawful command and therefore acted alone. However, the report highlighted that the PIU personnel who opened fire on the crowd at close range acted out of fear for their lives when they were outnumbered and overpowered by the angry villagers.
“Due to the inability of the villagers to identify with sufficient specificity the PIU personnel who actually shot at them mainly because of the helmets and other riot gears they were wearing, the commission could not establish with sufficient particularity the identities of the PIU personnel who actually shot and killed the villagers,” the report said,
However according to the report, ASP Musa Fatty, PC Musa Badjie, PC Nuha Colley, and 1st Class Momodou Z Jallow were found after the incident to have lost ammunitions.
“The evidence also places Superintendent Babucarr Cham at the scene throughout the disturbances and the commission has found that he could be liable as a superior,” the report said.
The report also maintained that the PIU personnel on the ground in Faraba Banta were responsible for shooting of the villagers and are consequently responsible for the deaths and gunshot wounds inflicted.
“The injuries suffered by the PIU personnel can be attributed to stoning by the villagers and the injuries sustained by the villagers can be attributed to the PIU personnel who shot at and also threw stones back at the villagers,” the report added.
According to the report, the destruction of properties through arson and vandalism were premeditated and calculated acts orchestrated mainly by the youths of Faraba Banta.
Presenting the report to journalists at the Justice Ministry, Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said the government accepted the findings “in so far as they relate to the causes of deaths, injuries and destruction of properties”.
He said accordingly, the government accepts the recommendations of the Commission, which include: appropriate criminal prosecutions be continued against ASP Musa Fatty, PC Musa Badjie, PC Nuha Colley, 1st Class Momodou Z Jallow and Superintendent Babucarr Cham for the deaths of Bakary Kujabi, Ismaila Bah and Amadou Jawo who died from gunshot wounds as established by the coroner; criminal prosecutions be initiated against all the perpetrators identified in the report for the willful destruction of properties and other related crimes in the village; police to conduct further criminal investigations into the killings, injuries and destruction of properties for the purpose of prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of the crimes within the shortest possible time; the families of those who died or sustained serious injuries and those who lost properties as a result of the vandalism and arson to be compensated by the state.
The government has also removed the alkalo of Faraba Banta village, Nuha Kujabi, dissolved the village council of elders. The government also recommended to the Brikama Area Council to dissolve the current Faraba Banta VDC and facilitate the establishment of a new VDC with immediate effect.
The government has also handed a six-month suspension to the NEA executive director, and the Geology department director general for their failure to follow established guidelines in the issuance of the mining licences to Julakay Company.
The government also ordered that the licence of Julakay Ltd which expired in July 2018 should not be renewed and the company denied any licence for the conduct of any mining in Faraba Banta until further notice.
According to the government white paper, all sand mining activities in the village will be suspended until proper environmental impact assessment is carried out by an independent consultant.
Meanwhile, a Faraba Banta Compensation Committee has been established comprising the permanent secretaries of the ministries of the Interior, Local Government and the Environment under the joint chairmanship of the solicitor general and permanent secretary ministries of Justice and Finance to handle all compensation claims as recommended by the commission.