By Omar Bah
Gambian parliamentarian, Musa Amul Nyassi, has confirmed to journalists yesterday that the two missing Gambians were allegedly arrested by Senegalese forces during fighting with armed separatists along the Gambia-Casamance border last Monday, are being held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
Honourable Nyassi said Modou Bojang, the alkalo of Karorr village in Foni Kansala district, was arrested by Senegalese forces in his home in Bwiam while Abdou Jammeh, a police officer in the Crime Investigative Department, was arrested at Kampanti village in Kansala district contrary to reports that they were arrested along the border.
Nyassi said on Monday, the National Assembly Peace and Security Committee summoned the ministers of defence and the interior, the head of the State Intelligence Services, deputy chief of defence staff, the head of police, the national security adviser and others over the shooting incident.
“The discussions were mainly centered on the fate of the missing Abdou and Modou and their whereabouts and how soon they are going to be released if they are in the hands of either the Ecomig or Senegalese forces. Apparently, they are in Dakar. This was confirmed by all these government personnel and they have given us the assurance that they are in safe hands but we pushed them further to asked them why are they still held when negotiations have been made to release the Senegalese soldiers who were captured by the rebels.
“We challenge the government and Ecowas to ensure the immediate release of these two gentlemen because telling us that they are alive will not convince us. If they are safe, why are they still holding them? It was when we raised these issues that they told us those negotiations are already going on and in a couple of days they will be released and as far as I am concerned, a couple of days does not go beyond tomorrow [today],” he said.
Mr Nyassi said he is worried about the conflicting reports coming from both the separatist fighters and the Senegalese military. “I am concerned because the Senegalese side said they have captured one rebel and killed another, while the MDFC is claiming that none of their men were killed. What do you believe then? That was why I raised it with the defence minister that there is the likelihood that either the alkalo or the CID officer have been killed but he assured me that they are all fine and that those arrested by the Senegalese forces are in fact three instead of two as reported by the Senegalese.”
Senegalese forces in Foni
The lawmaker said the government should as a matter of urgency facilitate the withdrawal of Ecomig forces and give the responsibility of protecting the country’s borders to the Gambia Armed Forces.
“Foni is not against the deployment of Ecomig forces. Our concern has always been that the wrong forces were deployed in the area. It is not normal for Senegalese forces to be deployed in Foni given the relationship between Senegal and the MFDC separatists. In fact, I thought they were not part of Ecomig until yesterday (Monday) when I was told by the defence and the interior ministers that they were incorporated into the Ecomig forces since 2019 which should not have been the case. I have always made it emphatically clear time without number that the people of Foni do not appreciate the activities of the Senegalese forces in the area and I think it is now high time that the Gambia Armed Forces should be given the responsibility of protecting our territorial integrity,” Nyassi said. He said discussions are going on to get support for those who were displaced.
However, normalcy has returned in the area and residents who fled their villages are gradually returning and going about their normal lives.
Meanwhile, Gambia Armed Forces personnel have assured the people of Foni that their security is of paramount interest to the government.