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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Letters to the Editor

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What Is SIU?

Dear editor,

We have a poorly funded, poorly equipped, and poorly trained police force. We have an outfit called the NIA which is distrusted by the population due to their despicable track record during the reign of the previous government. We have an army that is battered and demoralized because it could not rescue the Gambian people from a recalcitrant government [thus the presence of an ECOMIG Force]. We have a Police Intervention Unit that, like its sister forces, is poorly funded, poorly paid and thus poorly motivated. All these [working together or not] could not even be aware of the fact that two of the most feared generals of the previous government came back to this country.

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All these make it extremely strange if, out of the blue, citizens begin to hear about a new security outfit called State Intelligence Unit (SIU). Since this government took office, no one has heard of a bill in the National Assembly establishing a security unit called State Intelligence Unit. Is it a constitutional unit? If it were, certainly it should be done through the National Assembly. How can we have a security unit without it being passed through the House of Representatives? It is reported that this outfit is formed from the presidency. Since when does a president have the powers to form such units arbitrarily?
The National Assembly should definitely demand an explanation for this pseudo security unit. If found to be inconsistent with the constitution [which most likely it will] it should be disbanded forthwith. This seems to be another example of the epic blunders your government is becoming synonymous with. Why create yet another security unit when the ones here are in the woefully inadequate state they are in? This is unacceptable and we demand an explanation immediately.

As I have said repeatedly before, the Gambia Police Force is poorly paid, poorly equipped, poorly trained and poorly motivated. Just look at the incident in Busumbala where they were expected to quell a huge chaos in their pickup trucks with no teargas, no protective gear and no armoured cars. Going to such a place in such circumstances would have been suicidal.

The people of the country have had enough of the constitutional violations. We have seen governments operate outside the law on so many occasions that we have had enough of it. It was for this very reason that we came together and expended efforts, blood, tears and sweat to ensure that we change our government and put you in office. We will not allow you or any other person to take us that road again. It is indeed disappointing for Gambians to witness the setting up of a unit outside the law, for that is what this looks like at the moment.

Instead of setting up of the State Intelligence Unit [I wonder whether it should be called State …], why can’t you fund the Police Force, give training to the Police Intervention Unit, revamp the NIA, restructure the Army and secure our borders. The security of the country is fragile at present but the solution is not in creating more units; rather, it is in strengthening the ones we have.


Musa Bah
Nusrat SSS

On the State Intelligence Unit

Dear editor,

What is this? Which law created this outfit? Where is its Act? Since January 2017 we have not seen or heard of any bill placed before the National Assembly entitled ‘a bill for the creation of the State Intelligence Unit’!
If there is no law for the creation of SIU then it cannot be a state institution hence it is an illegal outfit. This outfit cannot be created by any Executive Directive.
If it is an administrative and operational unit under any other office then its name cannot be State something something.

What is the mandate of this SIU? The National Assembly must get up to ask Pres. Barrow about the SIU? We must not allow arbitrary decisions and actions that are beyond the powers of the President.
This was what Yahya Jammeh did by creating illegal entities such as Junglers, Bulldozer, Black Black, etc. We know the havoc this terror groups eventually did just to satisfy the whims and caprices of one person. We do not expect Pres. Barrow to follow that path!
No to SIU! No to SIS!
We have only NIA as the state intelligence agency which in fact needs serious review and audit and restructuring!

Let us demand Pres. Barrow to confirm or deny the existence of SIU and tell us the rationale and mandate and creation of the SIU if it does truly exist.
Stand up for good governance with transparency and accountability in The Gambia.

Madi Jobarteh

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