Tensions are building up between the army and the personnel of the police intervention unit (PIU), following dictator Yahya Jammeh’s planned move to annex the PIU into the army. There has been growing hostility between the two security institutions. PIU personnel are now being targeted for attacks, constant assaults and harassment by soldiers. Soldiers hardly comply when stopped at PIU manned checkpoints. Instead, they engage in drive offs.
The latest incident occurred on Thursday at Farabasutu, at approximately 2:00 PM. Some soldiers attacked the PIU officers stationed at checkpoint in the locality. Hell broke loose, as the PIU officers on duty fought back. There was complete a chaos and pandemonium. Fighting ensued between some unnamed soldiers and PIU officers stationed at the Farabasutu checkpoint.
At the end of the day, the PIU officers overpowered the rampaging soldiers. The soldiers were seriously beaten up and handcuffed by the PIU officers. They were later escorted to the Kombos for further processing.
The PIU has suffered numerous attacks coming from the personnel of The Gambia Armed Forces since Jammeh’s recent decree to merge the two institutions. Even though, the PIU is yet to be officially annex to the army, notwithstanding, there is a deep-rooted acrimony between the military and the PIU. Soldiers are now physically attacking PIU officers at their place of work, in the streets, and homes.
A highly placed source familiar with the story said dictator Jammeh doesn’t trust the army, and as such he has decided to discreetly relegate the Republican Guards headed by General Saul Badjie. Our source intimated that the PIU are now manning certain strategic security details in the country, which doesn’t went down well with the army.
“The PIU and the army are now strange bedfellows. The army perceives the PIU as an enemy. The army believes that the PIU is out to take charge of Presidential protection and other key related national security assignments. Since Yahya Jammeh instructed his former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, and Gen. Badjie to enforce a decree he issued for the annexation of the PIU into the army, there has been growing discontent within the rank and file of the military,” said our source.
“It is not healthy to see two security outfits to perceive each other as rivals and arch enemies. Someone within the army command is manipulating the soldiers to hate onto the PIU officers. If the current trend continues, there is bound to be a serious breach of security in the foreseeable future. The PIU officers have been provoked to the nose and they wouldn’t hesitate to retaliate if the soldiers doesn’t stop attacking them,” our source added.
The PIU in collaboration with the police have been cracking down on some elements of the “jungullars” and the NIA engaged in drug trafficking. The jungullars is an elite assassin team constituted by dictator Jammeh. They are in the business of trafficking cannabis from the Southern Province of Casamance into The Gambia. One of their leaders Sulayman Sambou, has been taken into custody on drug trafficking related charges. He is yet to be formally charged.
“General Saul Badjie is manipulating the Republican Guards. He is telling the soldiers that Jammeh is out to replace them with the PIU. There is an ongoing intimidation of PIU officers by the soldiers,” said our source.
The arrested soldiers are yet to be charged. Our sources on the ground have promised to keep us posted with developments.