By Omar Bah
Senegalese parliamentarian, Oumar Cissé Souvané, has alleged that majority of people in his community in Casamance have Gambian identity cards because it is very easy to get.
Addressing the assembly in Dakar recently, the MP added: “I am from Casamance, we are at the Gambian border. Our entire community have the Gambian identity card. The Gambian ID Card is very easy to get during their electoral process. You just bring two witnesses and if they know them, they prepare an ID card for you. We should have special ID Cards for our citizens living along the border, if not all of us will be Gambians. I will list some of our communities that have majority Gambian ID Cards. Kanjalon, Kanjon Mangana, Gonani, Njamalachel, Njamakuta, Bona, Jaakunda etc,” MP Oumar Cissé said.
The Senegalese lawmaker also said the people of Casamance are grateful to President Macky Sall for constructing the Farafenni bridge.
Reacting to the MP’s assertion, the Gambia Immigration Department spokesperson Mamanding Dibba, yesterday told The Standard that his office is taking the allegations very seriously and they will investigate the matter. “We cannot take things like this lightly – anytime somebody brings allegations like this to us, we take it very seriously and we will treat this one with all the attention it requires especially given the fact that the person who said it is a National Assembly member but we will probe it and get the facts.”
He added: “I don’t have all the details of the allegations made by the MP but I want to believe that all he said is his opinion. As far as we are concerned, I cannot substantiate the gentleman’s claims that the majority of the community in the border are having Gambian ID Cards because the document is very easy to acquire even by non- Gambians. That is his opinion. In fact, that will be a surprise to us because when we issue these ID Cards, we base our issuance on regulations that are supported by law. There are requirements that we look into before we can issue people ID Cards, so I don’t know how true his claims are because also you can have Gambians living on the other side of the border just like you have Senegalese living in the Gambia. That is my belief but the issue of issuing Gambian ID Cards to Senegalese to that magnitude that the MP is claiming is unsubstantiated for now. Don’t get me wrong, he might be right or wrong,” Dibba added.
On the claims that acquiring Gambian ID Cards is easy, PRO Dibba argued he is not sure the MP has any proof to his claims.
“I want to say as far as we are concerned, whenever we are issuing ID Cards, we do it based on the regulations supported by law. So, his claims that you just need two people to serve as your witness to acquire the ID Cards is completely wrong because that is not one of the requirements that we used in acquiring ID Cards and they are stipulated and the person must adequately respond to profiling questions to prove to the issuing authority that he/she is qualified,” he said.
When contacted for comments, the Senegalese High Commissioner to The Gambia, Bachirou Sené said: “The person who is making these claims is a member of parliament and nobody can attack him based on what he said because he has immunity. The other thing is that if what he said is true, I want to say that is a good thing because it demonstrates the peaceful coexistence the two countries share and because of that Senegalese want to become Gambians. It shows that Senegalese are appreciating the peace and stability in the Gambia.”
He promised to give a befitting response to the matter after an investigation is conducted and all the facts are established.
Two years ago, the Minister of Health Ahmadou Samateh said most of the Government imported medicines at public hospitals go to people living across the border who report to facilities with Gambian ID Cards.