Former President Yahya Jammeh’s loyalists, Brig. Gen. Umpa Mendy and Brig. Gen. Ansumana Tamba were given VIP treatment upon arrival at the Banjul International Airport, an investigation into the security failure found.
Mendy was the Principal Protection Officer of Jammeh and Tamba was twice the head of the elite presidential guard, often accused of human rights abuses and crimes against the state, summarily executing Jammeh’s perceived enemies.
“Some of the security officers knew that the Generals were coming and they assisted them when they arrived,” said a top security source.
Lamin Jatta, the Aviation Security collected the passports of Mendy and Tamba and gave them to the immigration personnel for them to be stamped.
“He gave the passports back to Generals and they all including Amadou Kinteh were seen in a security camera footage shaking hands and talking with the generals,“ the source said.
They did not have to join the queue, our investigation found. Everything was done in an express manner expediting their exit out of the airport. They were picked up by unidentified men, none of whom are yet to be arrested by authorities.
Lamin Jatta of the Aviation Authority was the Point of Contact for former President Yahya Jammeh at the Banjul International Airport. He was a close to the unceremoniously ousted iron-fist ruler and his embattled intelligence chief, Yankuba Badjie.
Both Amadou Kinteh and Lamin Jatta were part of the security officers that have been suspended while investigations are ongoing.
Brig. Gen. Umpa Mendy and Brig. Gen. Ansumana Tamba, both former aides of Yahya Jammeh arrived in the Gambia on January 19 through the airport unnoticed and unreported.
The duo were arrested hours after they had already joined their families. They are currently detained at the Yundum Barracks and are helping the security in their investigations.
Mendy, Tamba and many other security officers loyal to the former dictator Jammeh disserted the army and joined him [Jammeh] in exile in Equatorial Guinea last year, following Jammeh’s defeat in the December 1, 2016, presidential election.
West African forces that pushed Jammeh out of power and gave control to Mr. Barrow remain in the country. Their mandate has been broadened to help stabilize the security in the country and to help with the new reform efforts.
The country is struggling to rebuild its armed forces after mass graves were discovered in March last year. Police believe the victims were killed by members of the Gambian army, on orders from Jammeh’s loyalists that were led by Mendy and Tamba.
(Reporting and Writing by Assan Sallah; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)