The Gambia Police Force yesterday debunked unfounded rumours of child kidnapping in the country. The Office of the Inspector General of Police in a press release issued said it has learnt with dismay that some of the general public is disseminating the false information. The full text of the message from the police reads:
The Office of the Inspector General of Police has learnt with total dismay that some members of the general public are disseminating false information about child kidnapping in the country.
This false information is causing panic among the population therefore, the Office of the Inspector General of Police wants to reassure the members of the general public that the rumour is false and baseless, and those responsible just want to cause panic among the population.
In this regard, the Office of the Inspector General of Police strongly warns those responsible to desist as those found wanting will be dealt with according to the law.
Finally, the Office of the Inspector General of Police wishes to reiterate that members of the public reserve the right to report any suspicious or clandestine activity to the nearest police station for investigation rather than spreading false rumour that may cause panic among the population.
Meanwhile, members of the Gambian public have been reacting to the unfound stories in an interview with Daily Observer team of reporters dispatched to verify the veracity of the rumours, but have been unable to obtain any eyewitness account, other than hearsays.
“We are aware of the allegations posted on social media platforms but cannot substantiate the legitimacy thereof due to a lack of evidence. We urge people to refrain from posting false rumours about child abduction on social media,” a senior security officer speaking on condition of anonymity said.
“If anyone knows someone spreading these rumours, please report them. The public must note that any such incidents will only be communicated via the police and mainstream media.”
Landing B. Badjie, head-teacher of Tallinding Lower Basic School said: “I heard this rumour of children being kidnapped and this has been circulating over the past days. I even went to Tallinding Annex School and found the same rumour there. Just yesterday, I had an issue with some parents who came withdrawing their children without informing the school authorities. When one of my teachers saw them withdrawing their children he informed us. I asked them what was the reason taking their children home and they informed us that they heard rumours that some children are being kidnapped around Ebo Town area. I say when but they couldn’t tell us the exact time and whose child was kidnapped, so is like they were only acting on hearsay.”
He added: “This false rumour has affected effective learning in schools over the past few days for the simple fact that a lot of students are absent from school these days as indicated in our attendance list. But since the rumour started spreading, not a single student from my school has been reported kidnapped or missing.”
Mr. Arnold Sowah, the principal, S.D.A Junior and Senior Secondary School in New Jeswang added: “We haven’t experience such a thing like that in this school. Some parents came here to pick their children before the school closes.”
Musa Badjie, an eigth grader at the same school said: “I have heard about it, because it didn’t happen here in this school. When I heard about it, what came to my mind was to go and pick-up my little brother and take him home. Upon hearing this, I thought it was a joke. And still I believe it’s a joke.”
Marie Therese Boissey, another grade eight student said: “Our school didn’t come across anything like that but we heard about it yesterday, I was not scared, but some of my friends were crying because they feared that their little sisters could be picked up.”
Musa Ndow, Bekai Njie and Sheriff Janko contributed to this story.