By Baba Sillah
Kanifing East Mosque imam Baba Leigh, has condemned the importation of arms into the country by private companies or individuals, saying “it has no place in this new Gambia”.
Security officers at the seaport on Wednesday, 9 January, intercepted a container loaded with 1,263 rifles imported from Turkey by GACH Security Company Ltd owned by Abubacarr Jawara. It was discovered that 38 of the guns were not the type authorised for importation as indicated on the packing list. The story has been generating intense debate since.
Delivering his weekly Friday congregational sermon, the imam described the importation of the firearms as “unfortunate” and “a misplaced priority”, noting that the police have no justification to issue a private firm licence to import guns for the “so-called purported purpose of hunting animals”.
Imam Leigh contended that since there are no wild animals in our forests, the reason for bringing the guns into the country could be “to threaten the security and life of the people”, and that the issuance by the police of the licence is beguiling.
Imam Leigh, an outspoken critic of former Gambian president Jammeh admonished religious leaders in the country not to shirk in speaking truth to power or hesitate to condemn any trait of injustice to avoid a repetition of Jammeh’s score years of tyranny.
“The recent seizure of arms at the seaport is very bad news. Since The Gambia is a peaceful country, why should the government issue licences to someone to import weapons in the country? This should be a concern for everyone. The Gambia is a peaceful country and it has been known for that ever since. We should put aside our political differences and put the interest of our country first.
The Gambia is bigger than anyone of us and we must be astute to speak out the truth no matter what it takes. What the people of The Gambia need now are good roads, education, energy, health and books for our education and not weapons that will only instigate violence and war,” he chastised.
He said Jawara should be in custody while police continue investigating the matter.