AGFP secures release of a Gambian student from Senegalese custody; two others to serve 45 days in jail

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By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

Senior representatives from the All Gambia Forestry Platform have successfully negotiated the release of Bakary Ceesay, a student from Sankandi village in the Lower River Region, after intense discussions with Senegalese officials in Sedhiou, Casamance.

The incident follows the arrest of a student from Sankandi, Alfusainey Tunkara, a seventy-five-year-old baker, and Yaya Darboe, a chainsaw operator from Brikama. They were detained by the Senegalese security forest patrol in a forest near Diallowkunda on April 22, 2024.

Reliable sources have informed TAT that three Gambians, while unknowingly entering a Senegalese forest to collect firewood for the Sandandi village bakery, were detained by the Senegalese Security Forest Team and taken to Sedhiou for prosecution.

Reports indicate that the Sankandi Student and the co-accused were charged with harvesting 100 logs of timber from a Senegalese forest. This case is considered an international crime and could result in imprisonment ranging from six months to two years. All three individuals have denied any wrongdoing in response to the charges brought against them by Senegalese officials.

However, TAT was duly informed by Saikou Janko, President of All Gambia Forestry Platform (AGFP), who confirmed that the Senegalese officials squashed the jail term imposed on the Sankandi Student after rigorous negotiations spearheaded by his association.

He said his organization secured the reduction of the two-year jail term slammed on Alfusainey Tunkara and Yaya Darboe to forty-five (45) days in Jail, a significant reduction that relieved the accused and their loved ones.

“Our intervention on the matter was necessitated by the involvement of the old man and the school-going student’s affairs in this matter. We successfully secured the immediate release of the Sankandi Student without being charged. We could also appeal to the Senegalese authorities on behalf of Alfusainey Tunkara and Yaya Darboe, whose sentences were reduced from two years to forty days in Jail,” Saikou Janko confirmed to TAT.

The AGFP President called on border communities to be vigilant and follow due processes in acquiring forest products, emphasizing the importance of this issue.

He also urged both the Gambian and Senegalese Governments to properly demarcate the borders, a matter of utmost importance, and engage in adequate sensitization to raise the awareness of their citizens on the importance of the forest cover and its benefits to the two countries and thier shared natural resources.

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