Speaking at a presser held at the party’s headquarters in Manjai, lawyer Ousainu Darboe, the party leader, said: “Two days ago, on the 13th to be precise, Ousman Rambo Jatta was also heard on radio castigating Momodou Sabally, Sheriffo Sonko and Imam Sonko. And in fact, inferentially trying to link UDP with the event of the 12th [fatal shooting of two police officers].”
The party leader and secretary general of the main opposition party added that what is serious about this is that Rambo said the IGP should arrest Momodou Sabally, Sherrifo Sonko and Imam Sonko.
Mr Darboe said that Rambo made the statements on Wednesday and on Friday, Momodou Sabally was arrested. “Whatever he [Momodou Sabally] alluded to was already in the public domain. The police knew about it, the police read it. It was on his Facebook page. So what I am trying to say is that it is people, critical opponents of UDP, that are using the police for their own political agenda, for their own political purpose, and getting our supporters arrested.
Mr Darboe said that the statement of Momodou Sabbally was made on the 7th of September, and if the police cared, they would have effected an arrest at least the following day (the 8th of September). It should not have been on the prompting of Ousman Rambo Jatta, he held.
He also stated that there was no need to detain Momodou Sabally because what he said was everywhere and there was no need for any further investigation.
“Because you keep arrestees in detention to enable you to carry out investigations. What Momodou Sabally is alleged to have said is written. There was no need for any further investigation. If that is the crime, you already have the evidence here. What do you have to hold him for? If you have a case, you take him to court. If what he said violates or infringes any provision of the criminal code, you do not need any further investigation.
“All that he was saying is that the PIU brutalises. In fact, yesterday it happened at Kairaba [Police Station]. When some of our supporters went there to see Mr Sabally, a group of paramilitary officers, Police Intervention Unit personnel, came and instead of the civil police that they should be, started approaching people harassing them, beating them. That was absolute evidence of how the PIU brutalises opposition people here. If you say that, as I have done so now, that they do so, what is the crime.”
He describes this as reminiscent of the Jammeh era, adding: “The arrest of Momodou Sabally was not done in order to enforce any provision of the criminal law; it was not an arrest done in good faith. It was an arrest actuated by malice; it was an arrest solely intended to provoke Mr Sabally.
Darboe further stated that UDP members can be imprisoned by the government but they cannot be silenced.
“There is nothing,” the veteran politician added, “anybody can conclude other than being a politically motivated arrest. An arrest intended to silence Momodou Sabally but of course, we know Momodou Sabally is like several leaders in the UDP. You can incarcerate us but you cannot stop us from talking. Even if you incarcerate us the ideas continue to flow in the streets and the people will talk. We know that this 72 hours that the constitution tells us is abused.
He condemned the use of “Yahya Jammeh’s playbook in the run of this country”, which he said is being done every day with no regard for the rule of law
“Because regard for the rule of law means enforcing the law in good faith. Not when you use it in order to score points that are either immoral or points that are really intended to stifle or weaken your opponent. So our lawyers have gone to see Mr. Sabally.
“He’s in the best of spirits because I don’t think any of us can break him down. His family is also in the best of spirits. They realised and know that the cause that Mr. Sabally is pursuing in this country is a just cause and being a just cause and they are in high spirit and are proud that Mr. Sabally, his sufferings is all for the good of this country,” he said.