The Gambia’s intelligence community is undergoing a dramatic shakedown, days after a high-profile security gaffe at the country’s main airport involving two returning army generals who had accompanied ex-president Yahya Jammeh into exile a year ago.
Recriminations within the country’s security and intelligence community have been prompted by news of the largely unexpected return from exile of Ansumana Tamba and Umpah Mendy aboard a Royal Air Maroc flight from Malabo last weekend.
Despite being serving members of The Gambian Armed Forces, the pair had gone AWOL, spending a year with former president Jammeh in Equatorial Guinea.
They were later trailed by operatives and subsequently rounded up several hours later and are currently being questioned in a military barracks outside Banjul.
Underlining state interest in the case, President Adama Barrow reportedly asked to view CCTV footage which captured the scene at the airport as the generals arrived.
The footage showed the two men accompanied by a civilian, exchanging courtesies with a handful of immigration officers at the airport.
Since then some security operatives have been suspended or transferred, pending investigations into willful negligence, official incompetence or possible culpability by a section of the Gambian intelligence community.
A memo leaked to the African Press Agency on Friday confirmed that the State Intelligence Services, formerly the National Intelligence Agency is undergoing some drastic tweaks with unit heads being transferred to other branches of the agency.
Those transferred include Ebrima Faye from being the Director of Internal Security to the head of the Counterintelligence unit.
Saddy Gassama was moved from being the head of External Security to the directorship of the SIS’s Internal Security Unit.
The others are Mariama Janko, counterintelligence director to the director of the Kanifing Municipal Command, Samba Bah as director of Training from his post as director of the Brikama Intelligence Command Post.
Perhaps the biggest leap was by Lamin Jadama from deputy director to director of the SIS External Security branch.
Ousman Jallow who worked as operations coordinator now heads the Intelligence Unit at the Banjul International Airport while Jerreh Jammeh director of Intelligence at the Seaport from his position as regional director of the Kanifing Municipal Intelligence Unit.