By Omar Bah
A US-based Gambian criminologist, specialising on law enforcement and national security crisis, has urged the government to provide more robust security for judges, IEC senior officials and cabinet ministers because they are usually at higher risk of being targeted.
Seattle-based Modou Lamin Faye said he has observed that the security provided to these individuals, especially the country’s judges, is insufficient.
“It is important to provide them with more security, especially intelligence, because sometimes their families, loved ones, and their weaknesses are used by criminals to blackmail them by obtaining classified information to get criminal cases compromised or dropped, or win government contract biddings,” he said.
Faye said during his several visits to the Gambia and visits to court houses, the office of the interior minister and other government offices, he realised that the protective detail for these VIPs is not sufficient.
“There are security vulnerabilities at court houses, where people can freely go in and out of the buildings without going through internal security access control to keep track of foot activities and make sure that weapons are not being smuggled in. Weapons that can be used to influence judges’ decisions or harm them, the employees and visitors of the building or even extract prisoners from being prosecuted,” he added.
He said the internal security access control should also be used at police stations and immigration offices to digitally keep track of visitors daily. “These digital daily logs can be crucial if an attack was to occur. With this security measure in place, investigators would be able to go back and trace activities prior to the incident. The idea of a Security protective detail for a VIP is to prevent attacks or minimize the possibility for attack during an escort by foot or vehicle. Therefore, a minimum of five officers with special formation skills are needed to place human barriers between these officials from potential threats,” he added.
He said the five or more men security protective team is for one or two officers to solely protect the VIP and get them to safety while the rest of the team focuses on neutralizing the threat in progress.
“So, if one officer is being assigned to protect a minister, how would he/she get the minister to safety and eliminate the ongoing threat at the same time? Who’s going to protect the minister when the officer goes to break? We need to get out of our comfort zones and understand that Gambia is not immune from any kind of threats/attacks. We should not be too naïve,” he said.
He said the government should be aware and put security measures in place to make sure that when these threats occur, they can respond accordingly and minimize damages.
“In other words, if other countries are spending millions yearly to strengthen their security so can The Gambia. Government spokesperson, Ebrima G Sankareh recently received threats of burning his house, which has also happened in the past, when the assistant police commissioner, Gorgui Mboob’s house, police stations, and other private properties were burnt down in July of 2019,” he explained.
He said with great security and health care system, the country will attract more foreign investors, and in the process of doing that, “we create more employment opportunities for the younger generation and put the government in a better position to increase people’s salaries and retirees will get more retirement money from the taxes being paid by these investors”.
He advised senior government officials to be responsible and serve the country to the best of their ability.
“The people currently in power that can bring the change that many people sacrificed their lives for, need to understand that they will not be in those positions forever. At some point, they will either be replaced by another government or answer to God,” he stated.