By: Foday Manneh
The founder of the Bob Keita Foundation, Bubacarr Bob Keita, returned to the Mile 2 prisons four months after his release with a significant donation of food items for prisoners and staff of the country’s central prison.
Bob, who was under custody in the same prisons for almost two years while undergoing trial over the alleged rape of a minor before being found innocent, pledged to engage relevant authorities in the Gambia on the country’s justice system, most especially on access to speedy and fair trials.
“I know what is there. I could not discuss it because I was working on my mental health. Many alleged individuals are still in prison and going on their trials for five to six years now, and that’s not right. We will try to engage the stakeholders, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the IG of Police, and the Chief Justice to see how they can ease the laws for bail,” Bob promised.
“There are others with minor cases remanded for many years without timely trial or bail. That’s unacceptable. Those things should not happen, and we will have conversations around these with the authorities to have a way out,” he recalled.
Through his one-month-old foundation, which drew its motivation from the experience he had during his time at the prisons, Bob thought it wise to choose Mile 2 as its first point of intervention by donating food items such as rice, sugar, and oil, among other goods.
“When I left the prisons, I thought about establishing a foundation because I thank God what I was alleged of was not true, but I met hundreds of other inmates in the same situation. So we decided to get this foundation primarily focusing on improving the lives in the prisons and further in the communities,” Bob told TAT.
“I am known because of the prisons. But, 3 to 5 years ago, many people don’t know me. So I think it was wise enough to start our intervention at the prisons. We are seeking donations from people in both cash or kind to help achieve the foundation’s ambition,” he added.
In receiving the donated items, the Public Relations Office of the Gambia Prison Service, Modou Lamin Ceesay, thanked the BKF for the support and prayed for abundant reward.
The Acting Director of Gambia Prison Service, Modou Jarjue, acknowledged the gesture and described it as “timely” but pleaded for more support in terms of the health aspect of the prisoners.
“The government cannot do it all, and Gambians must unite to complement its efforts. No one will come from somewhere to rescue us. Nothing is small, and we thank you so much for this support,” Director Jarjue expressed.
“However, we all know the government is providing medicines, but the amount they provide may not meet the required target. So we are urging whether Bob Keita Foundation or any other philanthropist can help us. We need medicines for our inmates to help them physically and mentally stable health,” he urged.