21st February 2017
Hon Mai Ahmed Fatty
Minister of Interior
Republic of The Gambia
Banjul, West Africa
ABDICATION OF DUTY BY SECURITY DURING GAMBIA @52 CELEBRATION
Beneath the glittering festivity dotted by match pass of security forces, school children and civil societies which submerged Gambians into a euphoric trance of reassuring peace, tranquility, contentment and hopefulness laid three deaths and dozens wounded as a result of gross security negligence and police ineptitude at the stadium. Albeit most of the media houses remained mute on this disturbing reality, dependable reports emanating from Banjul confirmed the three deaths and dozens wounded gracing Gambia @52 nationhood celebration. Observers at the two in one celebration noted with dismay the gross abdication of duty by the Police Commissioner of Operation resulting in the dead of three and dozens wounded.
Most of the gates were manned by three paramilitary officers to control and manage over thousands of people vying to enter the stadium. As a result of inadequate presence of security personnel to control and manage the crowd, a stampede ensued. Diplomats, distinguished guests, women and children were uncouthly ruffled in the process. As a former security officer who partook in several parades, crowd control and management, I was shocked with the news of such a gross security lapse. A contingent plan must have been drawn by the Commissioner of Operation to curb any contingency of an unprecedented crowd turn out. Standby and backup platoons must have been readied to support units deployed to control and manage the crowd at the stadium. President Barrow has pulled extraordinary crowds in the past and will continue to do so in many more occasions. So for the Commissioner of Operation to fail to provide adequate security personnel to manage and control the crowd during Gambia @52 two in one celebration is a gross neglect of duty and ineptitude.
Your laudable strives to overhaul the security services particularly the police will not succeed if they are continually thwarted by the security services in the spirit of sabotage and abdication of duty.
During my time with the police, on such occasions, the Commissioner of Operation will request a number of officers and other ranks from Immigration Department, Prison and Fires services to form platoons with the paras to be deployed on road-lining to direct and manage traffic low and the rest deployed at the venue to control and manage the crowd. Dishearteningly, the celebration was marred by measured security lapse such that it was impossible to control the press around the President. At one point, he was almost engulfed by the press leaving his safety at the mercy of chance. The SIS has also failed in letting a pocket of demonstrators slip into the stadium and manifest in the presence of all the delegates and diplomats present at stadium. Even though it is their constitutional rights to dissent but there should be a time and place for it. Besides, one of those demonstrators could have cause bodily harm to the person of the president or any of the state guests. The space of change is slow and painful.
Many Gambians and friends of the Gambia believe most of the security chiefs and senior officers are still loyal to Jammeh. As such, they will always undermine the efforts and security of your government. One diaspora Gambian who travelled to witness the celebration revealed, “The only notable change is the executive and the cabinet. Other than that, everything remains unchanged”. Until thorough review and changes are made on the security services, the country will continue to sit on fragile stability. As a result, I request your office to speedily investigate the abdication of duty by the police service during Gambia @52 celebration.
While counting on your response to my request, I remain in the service of The Gambia.