By Omar Bah
A supporter and former mayoral aspirant of the ruling National Peoples’ Party, Pa Modou Jobe, has advised President Adama Barrow to restore the arresting powers of the State Intelligence Service to reduce insecurity in the country.
The SIS, formerly the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), was founded in 1995 to replace the National Security Service of Dawda Jawara’s government. Initially, its purpose was to combat threats from dissidents within the armed forces themselves. However, its role was quickly expanded to meet both real and perceived challenges from civilian critics and opponents. It also gained a “feared reputation for harassment of the political opposition and news media critics of the government”.
However, on January 31, 2017, the government of President Adama Barrow changed the name to SIS and since then, the agency has been operating with reform agenda and not meddling in affairs of the police or military.
But according to Mr Jobe, the country’s internal security challenges can only be fixed by allowing the SIS to be able to conduct arrests and empowering the police, who feel denigrated since the Faraba incident.
He said the police also need the president’s support for them to be able to execute their duties without fear or favour.
“I have realised that since the incident in Faraba Banta, the police are scared of using even minimum force where necessary. We have a very strong intelligence service, police, military, and drug squad, but they lack the confidence to be able to operate at full throttle,” Jobe said.
“Just recently, I came across a group of young boys and girls pretending to be masquerades and attacking people, taking their belongings from them, and the police could do nothing because they don’t even have a vehicle. I personally saw those attacking shops and women vendors, taking their money and telephones,” he said.
He said the government should ensure that the country’s security forces are respected and valued by its citizens.
“We cannot continue to bite the hands that feed us,” he said. He also advised the government to intensify its fight against drugs because there are many containers coming into the country with drugs, and that has to stop. “I appeal to all stakeholders to come forward and support the government,” he said.