The Chronicle Gambia

Police Claim Getting ‘Instruction from OVP’ to Arrest FSQA Dismissed Staff

About a dozen dismissed staff of Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) were picked up by the police on Tuesday as they insisted on coming to work, as well as their refusal to handover office materials. After their release the same day, one of the workers told The Chronicle that the police told them that they were acting on the instruction from the Office of the Vice President.

“They said they have instruction from the Office of the Vice President that some staff of the authority were dismissed in January and they did not handover office materials and they have been coming to work,” Alagie Sowe, a food inspector who was among over ten dismissed staff. 

FSQA staffers have been in loggerhead with their director, Zainab Jallow since last year, as they petitioned her to vacate the office over corruption and nepotism accusations. The independent investigation was carried out which found her wanting in some of the allegations. 

Zainab Jallow, Director FSQA

A couple of months ago, the staff called for a press conference to expose the alleged ill-administration style of their boss but this was met with unexpected decision of firing about ten staff of the Authority.  

Sowe said the office materials in question include the motor-cycles that are being used by some inspectors and badges they use as inspection cards. 

“We had that argument in the office. Initially the deputy commissioner [police] said they did not come to arrest us because they do not have an arrest warrant. But he said we hand over the materials to them or they will escort us to our various houses since we did not have the materials in our possession.” 

We insisted not to do that and we told them that we consider ourselves being arrested because if you come and say we should handover and if we couldn’t you will take action, then what does that mean,” Sowe told The Chronicle. 

He said they had a push and pull with the police until they agreed that they should go to the police station. 

“They took us to the police station and we considered ourselves being arrested even though the police don’t want to say that. When we got there our attorney came and we discussed it with them and they said it’s a civil matter and the police should not be involved in employment matters.” 

According to him, they agreed that they will hand over the materials tomorrow to the police. They were kept at Kairaba Police station from around 2pm until after 4pm, he said.

FSQA staff petitioned Director Jallow and accused her of corruption and nepotism

The police spokesperson, ASP Lamin Njie was contacted but he claimed that he was not aware of the arrest. He promised to get back to this medium immediately he finds out. However, he was repeatedly contacted but he wouldn’t pick up his phone. 

An anonymous staff who spoke to The Chronicle said the ten arrested are part of a group of twenty two people who were dismissed early in January and February, disclosing that the remaining dismissed staff who weren’t present during the time of the arrest were also called to report themselves to the Kairaba Police.

Others dismissed staff who were involved in Tuesday saga include Cherno Assan Jallow, Awa Camara, Abdou Sarr, Lamin S. Camara, Alkali Ndong, Alhasan Jatta, Bubacarr Jatta,, Mariama Sanyang and Buba Ceesay. 

Meanwhile, the former board chairman of the Authority who recently resigned in the midst of the conflict, Badara Loum has appeared before the truth commission TRRC on Tuesday. He described the modus operandi at the FSQA as below the standard. He said the Authority does not act in accordance with set rules, principles and procedures of the institution.

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