By Tabora Bojang
Senegalese security forces recently arrested two natives of Madina Balla in Kantora district and took them to Tambacounda, where they are still being held for alleged drug dealing, residents of the village told The Standard yesterday.
According to the villagers, Kekuta Kanneh and Lama Sanyang were picked up from Madina Fula Kunda on April 17th 2022.
Narrating the circumstances of their arrest, Foday Camara a native of Madina Balla, told The Standard that the whole thing appeared like a setup. “The two were called by one friend of theirs, a native of Tambacounda who wanted them to help with his motorbike which had a breakdown but upon their arrival, they met security forces from Senegal who arrested them and took them to Tambacounda.
“In fact, I spoke to Kekuta on the phone before they were taken away and while I was talking to him, one of the officers took the phone from him and he told me in Wolof, they have arrested the duo and about to take them to Senegal and they will only be released if we are able to pay 1 million CFA. I was shocked and dropped the call. How can you accuse someone of engaging in cannabis dealing when you did not even find a single quantity on them? This is very sad because it is not the first time the Senegalese forces are entering and arresting Gambians in our own territories,” Camara complained.
According to him, the villagers reported the matter to both Fatoto and Nyamanari police stations where officers went to the scene and confirmed the arrests took place in Gambian territory.
A senior security officer familiar with the incident told The Standard that it happened between Bissadi and Sare Balla in Kantora.
“The Senegalese forces had arrested someone with cannabis inside Senegal who told them that he got the weed [cannabis] from Gambia and provided the names of Kekuta and Lama. So the Senegalese officers came with him to an area and asked him to call Kekuta and Lama to bring him one big bundle but they did not know it was an ambush and upon arrival, they met officers who arrested them and took them away to Senegal with their motorbike,” our source added.
Muhammed Fatty, a native of Kantora and aspirant in last month’s parliamentary elections for the said constituency, said the illegal operation of Senegalese forces in Kantora and its surroundings can breed instability between Gambia and Senegal.
He recounted that there have been series of operations by Senegalese forces in which they arrested natives of Kantora on Gambian land, remanding and prosecuting them in Senegal with huge amounts of monies paid to secure their release.
“In 2018, a Senegal security officer was arrested at Nyamanari by Gambian securities for such illegal operations. He was taken to the Fatoto police station and later released. This incident was followed by the illegal shooting of Sulayman Trawalleh, a native of Garawol Kuta, Kantora by Senegalese security operatives accusing him of possessing cannabis sativa. He was arrested, remanded and tried in Senegal. I am calling on President Adama Barrow to start informing President Macky Sall that Kantora is never a part of Senegal and the border operations by his security men invading Kantora should be stopped.”
The Standard contacted Kantora NAM and majority leader, Billay G Tunkara, who has not been informed of the incident.
“I will contact my structures on the ground and I will get back to you,” he said.
When contacted, DLEAG PRO Ousman Saidy-bah, said: “Yes, we can confirm that an operation of such took place and two people were arrested but the matter is being investigated and we will inform the public accordingly.”