Yankuba Jambang, Senegambianews.com, 02/09/2009
In what appears to be a prelude to a costly civil war, armed military personnel, accompanied by acclaimed witchcraft doctors from Guinea-Conakry, have been randomly arresting people suspected of involvement in sorcery, and this time, the former chief of Lower Niumi, Alhaji Tobora Manneh is among hundreds of those arrested.
Chief Tabora Manneh was arrested on Thursday together with Fabakary Nana Sonko and his elder sister on suspicion of practicing witchcraft against president Yahya Jammeh, said our correspondent. They are now being detained at Banjul police headquarters together with hundreds of others arrested from the towns of Barra and Essau, 5 and 6 nautical miles east of the capital Banjul. Tabora Manneh, according to our correspondent, was ordered to pay D5,000 in order to be released, but he refused to comply with the order.
Armed soldiers and witchcraft doctors attired in red garments descended on Essau and arrested scores, causing pandamonium as people ran helter-skelter from a social gathering during a naming ceremony. Many had sustained injuries of varying degress as a result.
A resident of Serrekunda who hailed from the trouble town of Barra, told Senegambia News that he was traveling home to defend his parents, saying Badibou citizens are all heading home to take a stand against this “madness”. Gambians, he said, must take up arms now to remove Yahya Jammeh at all costs as he claimed, “he’s gone really, really crazy and we cannot afford a mentally deranged president”.
Similar incidents have been reported in the Kombo South village of Jamburu, where 60 people including the Imam, were arrested on January 28 on suspicion of practicing witchcraft. They were then taken to a compound belonging to the former majority leader Baba Jobe in Kololi, where they were forced to drink from bottles of concocted herbal medicine.
Scores of people have also been arrested or kidnapped in Foni Kansala District on January 26.
These state sponsored kidnappings did not spare worshipers at Serrekunda mosque, nor were the police stations in Banjul and Serrekunda, where senior officers were forcefully undressed in public and had their charms or jujus confiscated. Even some guards at the State Central Prison, Mile 2 had been searched for charms.
Army Leutenant Ebrima Solo Bojang is said to be leading these arrests, assisted by a National Intelligence Agency officer called Mr. Bah.