By Omar Bah
In the wake of a reported coup plot and rising security concerns, a US-based Gambian degree holder on criminal justice, specialising on law enforcement and national security crisis, has said the time has come for President Adama Barrow to hand over security to Gambians.
“If you (Barrow) can thank the Gambia Armed Forces for foiling a coup plot against your government, then I see no reason why you should not trust them with the country’s security,” Modou Lamin Faye, a Seattle based Gambian told The Standard on Thursday.
Faye said he is making this appeal due to what long-term security implications of the continued presence of the Ecomig forces, especially the Senegalese troops can bring about.
“I am conscious of the good relationship we share with Senegal but that doesn’t mean we should trust them with our intelligence. I am concern because the influence they have in our security secrets and intelligence could have a devastating impact on the country’s security in the future,” he said.
He continued: “I am not sure who President Barrow’s advisers are but they have not been doing a good job and have been clearly advising him to fail. Advisers are supposed to give advice based on facts and should have no business in advising the president about only things he wants to hear. So, Mr Barrow should be really very careful with the decisions he makes.
“Mr President, if we do not respect and value our own security forces, how do we expect the international community to respect us? It is evident that the Ecomig forces, especially Senegalese forces stationed at State House, received firsthand intelligence before our own security forces. Now, I understand anybody would say we wanted these people to come and help but I want to ask whether, if you have a problem in your compound and a neighbour comes to help you out, will you let that person enter your bedroom and sleep with your wife or your husband or would you prefer the person to sleep at the boys’ quarters? This is common sense, Mr President, the Senegalese forces should not be in areas where our sensitive security information is being discussed,” he added.
He further argued that it is a strong probability that the Senegalese forces are also gathering intelligence for their country.
“This is very serious because when it comes to national security there is nothing like friend or relative. As a security person, I am not just looking at today but the future. What if the Senegalese forces come across any natural resources that were supposed to be secret and plant listening devices in all those places or use the opportunity of their stay to gather intelligence that they never had the opportunity to gather?” he said.
He advised President Barrow to lead by example and avoid reacting to issues based on emotions and sentiments.
“To avoid what happened to Jammeh you should revisit your style of governance and avoid being blinded by the power you occupy because it doesn’t last forever. I remember in 2016, you were calling on Jammeh to respect the will of the people. So, Mr President, you have another chance to do things right by focusing on the issues for which you were elected. That is the only way out because there is no marabout or charity that can get you out of this mess. The only solution is for you to learn from Jammeh’s fate and start doing what is right. Always remember, there is a life after the presidency,” Faye advised.
Mr Faye disclosed that in July 2015, he reached out to a family member who was close to former president Yahya Jammeh regarding his security assessment of the country’s situation at the time and Jammeh’s way of governance.
“It was my opinion at the time that whosoever was advising Jammeh was setting him up for failure. But again, it seems history is about to repeat itself with President Barrow. I have been monitoring the security situation and other situations within the government and I have observed that there is a political suicide on the part of Mr Barrow,” he said.
He described Momodou Sabally’s arrest and detention as a clinical example of Barrow’s path to failure, arguing that it was the same tactics former president Jammeh was using against his political opponents. Faye said the government has the right to invite Sabally for questioning but they should not have arrested him.
“So, any sensible adviser would have told the president that the right thing to do about Mr Sabally was for the government to call him for questioning and release him. But they instead focused only on the part of the audio that they think could incriminate him and decided to keep him. That was unwise because international investigative standards provide that if you are investigating a person, you should also look for evidence that could rule him out as a suspect and quickly move to something else because time is against you gathering credible evidence,” he concluded.