The entry into the country, “unnoticed”, of top former security operatives, who accompanied former President Jammeh to Equatorial Guinea highlights serious breach at the airport and lends credence to the general security apprehension expressed by our fellow citizens.
The audacity of these men to come back to the country one year after they left and deserted the army should not be underestimated or regarded as coincidence. It could be part of an elaborate plot to destabilize our country. The motive and connection must thus be quickly explored and established.
Given insufficient security layers at our ports of entry, absolute reliance on flawed human intelligence gathering and low technological capabilities, it should not be surprising that high profile suspects could take advantage of these loopholes to get into the country.
Suspects can use aliases and fake passports and since there is no biometric system at the port or facial recognition assets, they are likely to slip through the cracks.
We must also commend our security and law enforcement officials for acting very quickly in arresting generals Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba hours after they landed in the Gambia.
Co-operation of the civilian population in reporting situations to relevant authorities is a critical component in prevention, investigation and resolution of security matters, and I happy Gambians are paying close attention to their environment.
However, in serious security lapses like the one we witnessed, taking individual and collective responsibilities is highly crucial in drawing valuable lessons and preventing similar mishaps. At the governmental level, massive investment is needed in the security sector.
Democratic gains cannot be consolidated or sustained in the absence of security. Security sector reform must not be limited to only changing faces, retraining and or redeployment of officers. The infrastructural overhaul, procurement and deployment of complementary technological assets are equally central to the package. Our security and law enforcement agencies must be given tools and incentives to help ensure efficiency in their works.
This investigation should be exploratory, thorough, exhaustive and far-reaching to account for all angles. Individual actions that might have led or contributed to this embarrassing security circumvention either in the form of dereliction of duties or collaboration with the suspects at every level must be established and those found culpable are held to account without prejudice.
Security of our country and safety of our fellow citizens, including the protection of our democracy and ensuring justice, must not be jeopardized. President Adama Barrow and his coalition government should be put on notice that they will pay heavy political and legal prices if their actions and omissions in office run counter to these ideals.