They thus urged the ministry to apologise and withdraw its published statement.
Jabbie Saikou, one of the students, who walked into The Point’s office explained that as a result of the Covid-19, they had stopped their classes at Saudi and begun online classes. He stated that they never left their hotel prior to their coming and that all their needs were supplied to them.
“All of us were tested for Covid-19 and our results came out negative and we all had our medical certificates with us. The flight took us from Gidda to Dakar and the Saudi government had informed the government of The Gambia that we would be coming.”
He added that they were the fourth batch that came from Saudi and upon their arrival in Dakar, they agreed for a Gambian car to come and pick them.
“That was granted by the Interior Ministry, Health and Foreign Affairs and we were told that we would be quarantined upon arrival. Upon our arrival, we found immigration officers but not authorities from the health ministry were present. The immigration officers told us the quarantine center is in Badala Park but they didn’t know the place, likewise us.”
According to him, they proceeded to Brikama without finding anyone to pick them as promised. He said they went to their compounds with the hope that they would receive calls from to ministry for pick-up, but to no avail.
He indicated that they felt disappointed when they saw the publication on the Health Ministry’s Facebook page, claiming they had absconded, which he said was not the case.
“There was no date, name and signature on the statement they published and we want to make things clear. We arrived 30th July 2020 and they didn’t write the statement until the 11th of August and that is not proper. All those who were alleged of jumping quarantine never had their names and details published. There is a discrimination attached in our cases,” he complained.
Sajor Fadera, another student, expressed dissatisfaction with the manner the Ministry exposed their names and passports’ details to the public, claiming they were discriminated against because they are Islamic students and that’s why they didn’t take them seriously.
“I cannot have the virus, knowing that I am a family man and infecting them at home. It is only absconded criminals or someone who committed serious crimes that would have their names and passports numbers published in the media.”
Beyai Al-Amin Kebba, also told The Point that they need clarification from the government and the immediate withdrawal of the false publication against them.
“Our elders taught us respect and that’s why we didn’t take any harsh step. Lamin Saidy Faye of the Covid-19 team spoke to us unpleasantly and he even ordered paramilitaries to discipline us but they didn’t heed.”
He said that the contacts the ministry put in their statement were not working, saying they wanted a stop to the stigmatisation against Arabic students in the country.
He called on the minister and its people to apologise as they committed no crime.
Al-Haji Jawla, another student, reiterated that the ministry’s statement was totally false, adding that the ministry failed in their responsibilities.
“We were told by Saidy Faye that it was the public health officers who wrote the statement on the ministry's page. The statement affects us because they treated us like the way they treated criminals. There is lot of discrimination attached and they used to belittle religious people.”
He called on the government to dismiss Saidy Faye, one Manjang and those who couldn’t do their work. He added that if the ministry fails to apologise to them, they would leave them with Allah because they had already caused them damage.