Faraba Commission Gets Testimonies From Villagers

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By: Aramata Jatta
The Commission of Inquiry looking into the Faraba deadly incident headed by Emmanuel Joof yesterday received testimonies from the natives of Faraba village.
The commission is currently investigating the recent clashes that happened between the villagers and members of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) leading to the dead of three unarmed youths and several others injured. Testifying before the commissioners, Suwaibou Sanyang said there was no one in the village who was not aware of the sand mining. He noted that on 17th October 2017, there was information that JULAKEY signed a memorandum of understanding with the village Alkalo without the knowledge of the villagers.
According to Mr. Sanyang, the villagers complained that they were not going to accept any mining activity as that would affect their rice fields.
He said the village head told them that JULAKAY had given the village contract committee D35,000.00 and he Sanyang was a member of that committee but he did not see the money.
He disclosed that the PIU officers were later deployed at Faraba on the 26th May 2018 until 18th of June 2018, to enable JULAKAY carry out his mining activities. The PIU, he went, on also restricted the villagers from going to the area which was sealed off and the women going to their gardens were also stopped from passing through and the youths were also prevented from playing football at the field.
According to Suwaibou, the Village Development Committee (VDC) held a meeting on the 26th of May 2018 to inform the villagers concerning the earlier meeting they had with the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Landing Kinteh which meeting was held at his office. After that meeting with the IGP, the members of VDC told the villagers that the IGP said they should allow JULAKAY to continue with his mining. However, the VDC at that meeting told the former IGP that they could not do that unless if they consult with the villagers. The position of the villagers at that meeting was that they were not going to allow any mining activities in their village. He informed the commission that after that day anytime JULAKAY and his son came to the village they were escorted by the PIU.
For his part,
Mr. Sulayman Jarju, the manager of the Village Saving and Credit Association also testified that he wasn’t present on the day of the incident as he was arrested by the police who accused him of instigating violence between the villagers and Julakay.
According to Mr. Jarju, the VDC called for a meeting and they were asked by the villagers how JULAKAY got license to mine in their village and the response from the VDC was that it was the village head (Alkalo) who signed a document for JULAKAY to take to the Geology department to obtain a license. The villagers assigned the VDC to find out how JULAKAY got the license which led the VDC to write to relevant government offices regarding the issue.
Jarju also added that JULAKAY and his workers fell down their palm trees, which was a family property. Later, the family was said to have been given D25,000.00 compensation but Jarju told the commission that he was never in support of the compensation neither was he given the money.

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