A retired senior official with decades of service and experience in the Gambian security services has told NewDay that The Gambia is currently being plagued by a wave of sinister interest from the Senegalese underworld.
Speaking on strict condition of anonymity, the retired security expert said all hands must be on deck to ensure that men of the Senegalese underworld do not begin to regard The Gambia “as a soft spot after the removal of Yahya Jammeh” and that the government must prioritize the security sector in order to stem the tide of cross-border related crimes that he says are now on the rise.
Pressed to offer cogent examples of such cross-border crimes, he pointed out that there are very clear leads linking the well-orchestrated robbery that happened in Jeshwang last month to criminals from across the border who “most likely crossed the border back after the robbery”. Over 16 million dalasi and other valuable items were reported to have been lost in that incident.
“Let me tell you. That is very serious from a security perspective. Senegal may be a sisterly and friendly neighbour and yes, we (Gambians) and Senegalese may be one people; but criminals don’t care about that (bilateral relationships).
These criminals are constantly looking for two things; a soft spot and a lucrative spot. Believe me; if we allow criminals from across the border to see The Gambia as a soft spot, we are finished,” he said.
According to him, investigations into the Jeshwang robbery, which is currently ongoing in Senegal, indicates that one Dam Sey, a Senegalese man in his late 30s and another notorious criminal named Boy Jinneh have been named and are being questioned over the incident.
“Dam Sey was once resident here in The Gambia and had multiple convictions for stealing, receiving stolen properties and obtaining money by false pretences. He served prison sentences twice at Mile 2 Prisons before he was released on a pardon by the president around 2017/18.
Senegalese detectives have recently found one of the phones stolen during the Jeshwang robbery with him and he is suspected to be part of that robbery. In fact, he has been marked positive during an identification parade,” he explained.
“Boy Jinneh is one of the most notorious Senegalese criminals, everybody knows that; yet he can come to The Gambia and leave. He is currently linked to the same robbery, but I am just afraid that if we don’t nip this in the bud immediately, we could be opening the floodgates to hell.”
nothing against Senegal, I have family there, but we have to protect this country. We cannot afford to be so careless. Asked if these incidences were not simply due to porous borders and lack of immigration enforcement, he replied: “The borders have always been porous; I agree that’s a problem but it’s nothing new.
What is new is the rising spate of crime committed by Senegalese and I have nothing against Senegal, I have family there, but we have to protect this country. We cannot afford to be so careless.
“Yes, of course, our borders are porous, but that’s not an excuse to allow cross-border criminals to find a safe haven in The Gambia; no. Look, let’s say the fact; most of the terrible crimes committed here recently are linked to Senegalese.
For example, an ex-soldier in the Senegalese Army, one Papa Ebrima Kalilu Njie murdered an innocent young girl in Kololi at her hair-dressing saloon.
The culprit had only spent two months in The Gambia at the time of committing the offence. He was arrested after going away with the deceased’s mobile phones; and calls print-out led to his capture.
He is currently serving a life sentence at the Mile 2 Prisons. Can you imagine that; you go into another country and within two months, you commit murder? What that tells you is that that person has zero regard for the country’s security and you cannot allow that to happen.
Do you understand what I’m saying?
“In July 2019, a group of Senegalese men were rounded up in the coastal town of Tanjeh following what seems to be conspiracy to commit felonies across that area.
They were found with suspected stolen properties and were later arraigned, convicted and sentenced. See, I don’t want to sound like I have anything against Senegal, but those who understand me know what I am trying to say,” he said, visibly impassioned.
“Look, there is a phycological element in security; you have to make criminals believe the cost of their crimes will be very high; once you lose that, it will be difficult to control things.
The mention of Yahya Jammeh alone was a deterrent at that time, let’s not fool ourselves. When you say these things, people term you as a Jammeh apologist, but that’s not true.
The man got a few things right and we must acknowledge those things and improve on them. He did evil things and let’s talk about that, yes; but Jammeh was solid on security,” he said.
“Jammeh is no longer here, so we have to find other ways to keep our security solid. Look, that’s not happening, I will tell you that. I am not in service anymore but we know what’s happening; peace is all we have here, and we will all lose if we fail to keep it.”
“Another major problem is the drugs coming into The Gambia from Casamance in Southern Senegal and also from Guinee Bissau through Casamance.
Of course, this has always been a problem even during Yahya Jammeh’s time, but I think the rising spate at which these things are happening now indicate that these criminals are losing the fear they have of The Gambia.
That’s dangerous, believe me; and we have to quickly put that fear back into them that this is not safe territory for their criminal operations.” Quizzed if he thought the current Inspector General of Police, Abdoulie Sanyang, is up to the task, he said: “Absolutely! Sanyang is capable.
In fact, most people in the hierarchy are capable. The real point is the support, the support from government. Are they getting that? “At the end of the day, everything comes down to politics.
Operationally, our Police is sound and they are committed; you people can think otherwise, but our men are the best, given the support and resources they have. If they have more, you will see what I’m saying.”
He also commended the Police and the National Guards for the initiatives taken to stem the current spike in crimes around the country. “A few weeks ago, you can’t listen to the news without a mention of crime happening here or there; but don’t you realise the difference since the Police and the National Guards stepped in?” he quizzed.
“Security work is like that; our work is often taken for granted, but the moment you lose it, nothing else is possible,” he said.
He was also effusive in praise for the Senegalese security infrastructure and personnel for cooperating with The Gambia, noting that things would definitely have been worse without the Senegalese security operatives helping us to mop things upon their side.
“To their credit, the Senegalese security are very cooperative and helpful. However, that is not an excuse for us not to sit up and take all necessary precautions,” he concluded.
Published on July 7, 2021