By Tabora Bojang
At least 50 personnel of the Police Intervention Unit Monday commenced a two-week course designed to equip police officers to protect important facilities against potential terrorist attacks and VIP protection ahead of the OIC heads of state summit in The Gambia next year.
Organised by the Turkish government and OIC Gambia, the training is under the auspices of a technical assistance programme between Ankara and Banjul. It is being held at the Police Credit Union headquarters. It seeks to develop the capacity of Gambian security officers to better counter terrorist activities for a successful summit.
“Summits and high-level meetings require strong security arrangements. In this regard, the Gambian security officers will play a very crucial role in the success of the forthcoming OIC summit next year,” Tolga Bermek, the Turkish ambassador to The Gambia, said.
It was in light of such an account that the Turkish government organised a series of training programmes for the Gambia Police targeting over 350 personnel, he added.
The Chief Executive Officer of OIC Gambia, Yankuba Dibba, said the capacity building programme formed part of the secretariat’s goal of equipping the police and other security services with modern apparatuses and technical know-how to keep the streets of The Gambia safe before, during and beyond the summit.
According to CEO Dibba, the training could not have come at “a better time” when the country prepares to host the second largest inter-governmental conference amid rise in terrorism activities in the sub-region.
“The OIC hopes to train more than 2000 security officers before the summit. And with the increasing terrorism activities around the world most especially in our Sahel region, we are not taking national security for granted which is why we are engaged in constantly improving our forces’ engagement readiness and capability,” he said.
He submitted: “The coming of the OIC to the country will be meaningless if it cannot be linked to the welfare, wellbeing and progress of most of the people in this country. That is why we are seeking meaningful partnerships to leave a legacy in every aspect of Gambian lives.”
Adeline Basangeh, PIU commissioner, said protecting important installations where the VIPs will be lodged during the summit is “not an easy thing”.
Speaking on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, he remarked that terrorists have no boundaries, warning that The Gambia can be considered “a soft target”.
“So, in order to minimise that threat, we [police officers] have to be trained to understand how terrorists think and do their planning,” commissioner Basangeh noted.