|Halifa Sallah, PDOIS Secretary General has written several letters to President Jammeh on critical national issues|
The very supporters of your party are outraged by rumours of torture and murder, the secretary general of the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) told Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh in an open letter.
Mr. Halifa Sallah is referring to “the rumours that are spreading regarding the personal security and well-being of Imam Baba Leigh” which he said “is raising the political temperature in the country as anxiety and disbelief emerge from even unexpected quarters.”
The activist Imam (an Islamic religious leader) wasreported arrested by the country’s spy officials, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on December 3, 2012. His whereabouts remain unknown.
“The family of Imam Baba Leigh is powerless to dispel the rumours since they do not have any privileged information regarding his whereabouts,” Mr. Sallah said. “Despite my strong conviction that no one dares to murder Baba Leigh, I often have doubts why he is not released or at least allowed visits which is a right enjoyed by people remanded in custody to give effect to the principle of presumption of innocence.”
Imam Baba Leigh is not even enjoying the right of a prisoner remanded in custody pending a hearing, that is, the right to be visited by family members, receive food and clothes from them and acquire the counsel of a legal practitioner, Halifa observed.
“Mr. President, your government has tried to distance itself from the murder of Deyda Hydara and the disappearance of Chief Manneh by conceding to external investigation. What image does it hope to give itself by ignoring all the national and international appeals for the release of Imam Baba Leigh,” Mr. Sallah asked.
Mr. Sallah, one of two recognised Social Commentators in the country, also said “it is becoming monotonous to repeat ad infinitum that you have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution without fear or favour, affection or ill will. This oath should censor your behaviour.”
He also asked why the Imam is detained for 25 days in gross violation of Section 19 of the Constitution which gives him the inviolable and inalienable right to see a legal counsel within three hours of detention and be released or taken before a court within 72 hours of detention.
“Mr President, it is incontrovertible that a democratic state should be a protector and not an oppressor of the citizenry. Every disregard of the dictates of the Constitution amounts to impunity,” he said, reiterating that “a government that cannot be criticised, scrutinised and restrained by its own citizens would end up ruling by coercion and oppression.”
Written by Modou S. Joof