A group of armed soldiers stands guard outside a farm in Farato, 19 miles southwest of the Gambia’s capital, Banjul. The farm is home to crossbreed cattle owned by the country’s former leader Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh was ousted in an election in December and forced to flee the West African nation of fewer than two million people after regional troops marched towards the capital to flush him out of power.
His unceremonious departure to Equatorial Guinea ended a political standoff that nearly ended in a civil war. Jammeh, 51, ruthlessly ruled over the small nation with an iron fist and became the champion of human rights abuse in the region.
The government of President Yahya Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, frequently committed serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition to the government.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has not said what would happen to Mr. Jammeh’s private properties. It has urged people whose businesses and properties were forcefully taken by Jammeh to come forward with documentation to reclaim their properties and businesses.
Gambian authorities are not saying if the Jammeh properties that continue to be manned by soldiers are now state properties. Attorney General Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou said the justice department is about to start investigations into Jammeh’s financial activities.
Gambia’s military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Lamin Bojang said he could not explain ‘exactly why’ soldiers are stationed at some of the former president’s properties and if they are now state properties.
Jammeh was a serial land grabber and owns pockets of farms worth millions of dollars across the country. He has laid claims on farms in Siffoe and the central Abbatoire in Abuko. He is accused of siphoning billions of dollars from the state.
Soldiers were withdrawn from Jammeh’s personal home in Kanilai. An expelled soldier, Lt. Col. Modou Sowe and a handful of recruited vigilante village boys now secure the abandoned presidential compound, which has a farm and a fast degrading zoo.