Reports reaching The Voice newspaper have it that the Gambian Muslim cleric, Imam Bakawsu Fofana is arrested for the second time this year.
A neighbor told this paper that Fofana was arrested at his home, Sanchaba Sulay Jobe, Kombo North district on August 14, 2012 by officials believed to be members of the National Intelligence Agency (the NIA).
It is not clear the reason behind his latest “arrest” or where he is currently detained as efforts to reach family sources was fruitless.
However, sources corroborated that the NIA told Bakawsu he was needed at State House in Banjul, but fails to return since being picked-up on Tuesday evening.
Other media reports suggested the Imam disappeared.
Bakawsu Fofana, who the Supreme Islamic Council and the Jammeh administration take a dim view of his preaching method, was released from “unlawful detention” on June 9 this year, following his unexplained arrest by the National Intelligence Agency on May 31, 2012.
After nine days in detention beyond the legal limit of 72 hours, he was granted a bail of D150, 000 of which two Gambians provided surety.
Shortly after his release, he told The Voice newspaper in an interview “I will never give up in spreading the words of God and establishing the truth.”
“I am not provoking anyone and if anyone feels offended by my preaching, it is not my words. It’s from the Holy Qur’an. I am only translating it,” he added.
He said of the reason of his arrest: “The NIA told me that they arrested me because I provoke people in my sermons, but I told them that I did not agree. I only said what God and his Prophet Muhammad (SAW) mention in the Holy Qur’an.” “I ask them who am I provoking, but they did not give any names,” he added.
“Even the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has gone through intimidation by his adversaries in order to stop him from spreading the words of God,” he said. “I am not against anyone, be it the government or Supreme Islamic Council. I am just spreading the words in the Holy Quran.”
The Director of the NIA, Mr. Numo Kujabi said to me that the President Yahya Jammeh love me and that my safety is guaranteed if I change my style of preaching - by not commenting on issues of government, tribes and people, Bakawsu revealed.
He also told this paper that he was beaten while in detention. “I am advising the government to avoid religious tensions; partisan politics should be separated from Islam, because its damages a nation and its people should not allow people to used them for their selfish interest,” he warned. “Many countries have cracked-down on Islamic scholars; it later turns worst for them.”
Authors: Modou S. Joof & Bakary Ceesay - The Voice newspaper