Gambia’s security chiefs are showing very little concern after the casual entry into the country former top military commanders that have fled with ex-President Yahya Jammeh.
Since the arrival of Gen. Ansumana Tamba and Gen. Umpa Mendy no assurance to guarantee citizens of their safety has been made, prompting many to suggest the response would have been different under former security minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty.
The country’s Army Chief Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh said on Tuesday that Tamba and Mendy were no threat to the country, despite evidence of human rights abuse and crimes against the state on the two military generals.
Sanneh calls the arrest of the former righthand men of the ex-dictator as a “debriefing” – a normal procedure for the officers that have deserted the army and fled to exile with Jammeh, who is now in Equatorial Guinea.
“We have not seen anything pointing towards the fact that they could be security risks or anything to the contrary,” Kinteh told journalist Omar Wally.
The new Minister of Interior, Ebrima Mballow has neither made a statement nor visited the airport or any security installation; and all indications are that the entire National Security Council is yet to convene.
The Director of the Gambia’s Immigration Services Buba Sagnia said the immigration officers at the Banjul International Airport are not the only ones to be blamed for the security failure this week.
Sangia seems to be accusing some of the security officers from other agencies of misleading his officers, saying: “‘At the moment I cannot establish the intention of the officers who stamped their passports, it could be that the officers were misled.”
The State Intelligence Services, whose most senior officer at the airport at the time was seen in a security camera footage greeting and socializing with the two generals has made no comments about the incident.
The SIS was the National Intelligence Agency, the state security department that is filled with Jammeh’s loyalists and the most accused of torture and false imprisonment of the ex-dictator’s perceived enemies.
President Adama Barrow has been trying to take full control of the security agencies. West African troops were sent to The Gambia to facilitate the transfer of power between presidents.
These troops remain in The Gambia, and the situation remains calm. However, supporters of the former president could attempt to disrupt the peace at any time and at least a dozen soldiers are being prosecuted for failed attempt to overthrow Mr. Barrow.