Sep 20, 2013, 11:59 AM
Calls for the release of Imam Baba Leigh has finally yielded dividends as the Kanifing Estate Imam was Friday released after more than five months in detention.
Imam Baba Leigh, who was reportedly picked up from his house on 3rd December 2012 by men in plainclothes, was released ‘courtesy of a presidential pardon’, GRTS television announced in its news bulletin Friday evening.
According to the news, Baba Leigh was accompanied to State House by the Imam Ratib of Banjul, Alhagie Cherno Alieu Mass Kah, and members of the Supreme Islamic Council and was received by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr Njogu Bah, who is also the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service.
After news of his release was announced, hundreds of people including followers stormed his compound in Kanifing Estate to set eyes on the imam.
His detention raised serious of concerns both within and outside the country.
In a television broadcast aired both on Friday and Saturday, Imam Baba Leigh described his detention as something destined by God.
‘I am a human being and mistakes cannot be avoided, but the best human being is one who makes mistakes, knows it and tries to rectify the mistake,’ Baba Leigh said.
While thanking President Jammeh for pardoning him, Baba Leigh said he will not blame anyone for putting him into this situation, but rather will blame himself.
‘Even if I have anyone to blame for this, I will blame myself and not any human being. I have passed the stage of blaming someone for putting me in trouble because he or she wants something from me,’ he stated.
On the differences among Muslim leaders in the country raised by the Imam Ratib, Baba Leigh said he has never been a party to it.
‘I have never been a party to it, because since when my father was alive, this was the way I have been practicing,’ he added.
Baba Leigh, who said he cannot talk more because his mind would not allow him due to the long detention, called on President Jammeh to be more forgiving and know that we are his family.
‘Nobody will come from outside to offend you, we are your family and we are the ones who will offend you,’ he stated.
Speaking on behalf of the President, Dr Njogu Bah urged Imam Baba Leigh to distance himself and his comments from issues that have no business with him.
‘When you comment on issues that you don’t have clear facts on, whatever happens to you, you are the cause of it,’ he said, making reference to the Prophet Muhammed (SAW), whom, he said, has urged Muslims who believe in God and the hereafter to either talk peace or keep quiet.
‘In the event that we cannot stay away from commenting, let us say things that will add to the peace and stability in the country, but not to comment on issues that can destabilize a country,’ Bah told Imam Leigh.
According to him, what we comment on issues should always be looked into, and not to comment on issues that are not clear or that are not one’s business.
In his view, there are so many issues that imams in the country could discuss, especially issues affecting the society, rather than issues than can bring trouble in the future.
Noting that there is religion and there is politics, SG Bah urged the imams to discuss on religious matters when they are on their religious gatherings, but when they want to comment on politics, they should go and form their own political parties.
‘You cannot be involved in religion and engage in politics to overthrow a government or destabilize the country. We will not allow that to happen,’ he said, adding that what has happened has happened, but we should learn lessons from it in case of tomorrow.
Imam Ratib Ahlagie Cherno Alieu Mass Kah, lauded the President for the steps taken towards ensuring peace and stability in the country.
Noting that without peace, there cannot be any religion, Imam Ratib Kah said mistakes cannot be avoided, but their repetition is what is bad.
‘This is what God has destined on you and you should not allow anyone to use you,’ he said, while calling for unity among all the imams in the country.