Three of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s trusted guards and aide who accompanied him to Equatorial Guinea returned home to face whatever awaits them rather than enduring endless hardship in another man’s land.
Unlike other fugitives who sneak their way into the country, State Guard Commander Brigadier General Ansumana Tamba, Principal Protection Officer Brigadier General Umpa Mendy and Momodou Lamin Jarju had the guts to fly into the Gambia on Friday night. They were cleared by Banjul International Airport security, an act that invited protest from a civil aviation officer who questioned why the men who might have blood on their hands be allowed to enter the country without interrogation. The three men safely went home but their arrival in the country soon spread like a wild fire, with social media news junkies turning their daggers on Gambian security officers, reviving the common narrative that “our security is just too fragile.” Gambian security officers, particularly those at the airport, have become the punching bag. Their failure to arrest and interrogate the three military officers who flew with Jammeh to Equatorial Guinea and lived with him for a year has once again raised more questions than answers. But the steadfastness of Gambian citizens to guard everything that poses serious challenge to their democracy at teething stage is a sign that despite sabotage or connivance to discredit the new government, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Ordinary citizens, who are not taking anything for granted, alerted top military command, asking them to act swiftly on people who deserted the army. These civilians want answers to their mountains of questions: why did the trio leave with Jammeh? Why they didn’t return after two weeks to complete their remaining years of service? What were they doing in Equatorial Guinea. Why did they return at a time the country’s security was threatened by political fracas? What did they know about the tortures and murders they have been accused of committing? These questions and many more should be asked by interrogators and answered by the three deserters who, according to our information, are being held at the Yundum Military Barracks.
After losing elections in December 2016, Yahya Jammeh did the unthinkable: conceded defeat and ready to hand over power to then President-elect Adama Barrow. What does one expect from an unpredictable power-obsessed leader other than unpredictability? Jammeh threw the country into confusion nine days later by annulling the election results, complaining of vote rigging. Was it not the same leader who described the Gambia’s”electoral process as rig-proof?” What resulted after his adamancy is left for historians to write about. The tyrant who bragged to own the Gambia left for exile to the land of unknown faces, history and culture. The greed that took him to power had eaten up his soul as evidenced by his shipping of 13 expensive luxurious cars. Mr. Jammeh also dried up the national coffers and continued to milk even after he had left for Equatorial Guinea.
He also went with his trusted advisors and aides: unschooled General Saul Badjie, head of the Republican National Guard; Lt. General Umpa Mendy, Personal Protection Officer and Lt. General Ansumana Tamba, Lt. Col. Wandifa Barrow, Col. Amadou Joof, Capt. Ousman Jallow and Sgt. Lamin Nyassi of the elite presidential guard unit, among others. Most of these people have been accused of taking part in tortures and murders of citizens.
Gambians elected a new government mainly because of their thirst for change. Therefore, any resistance for change by any sector or department of the government will be costly. The security of any country, especially the Gambia that has just emerged out of 22 years of brutal dictatorship, is not a joke. The better this gets into the skull of our sleeping security officers the better for all of us. Gambians will shift their trust to the ECOMIG officers where their own security units fail.