Gambia’s self-styled “stress free” Army Chief of Defense Staff Ousman Badjie, who was relieved of his post on Friday, said he is more than ready and willing to serve the Barrow government under any capacity even as a watchman or cleaner if avail with the opportunity. Gen. Badjie, was speaking on Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Freedom Radio Gambia’s Leral show. Mr. Badjie tells Freedom Radio Gambia that he was not the least surprised about his removal from the army.
“No, it is not a surprise to me. I am never taken surprise by events. I am always willing to serve my nation in any capacity; red, blue flag, white; anywhere they take me; even as a watchman; and in the name of The Gambia, and Gambian people, I am prepared; very much happy to take over any responsibility; I am very happy about any other responsibility given to me; I am not looking for money; I am not looking for fame; I am looking to my serve my Gambia; beloved Gambia, in any capacity,” Gen. Badjie said.
Mr. Badjie received a phone call late Friday evening, from the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defense one Mr. Jarra, while on a security mission up country with the ECOMIG Forces, who asked him to report to Banjul. And upon his return, he received a letter from PS Jarra, informing him that he has been redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No reason was given for the premature termination of Badjie’s services with the Armed Forces. He was let go together with other officers. Badjie confirmed that Gen. Sowe, was also removed from the army.
“I was called by our Permanent Secretary Jarra to report to Banjul. I was taking part in an execise at the Pollody army range with the ECOMIG forces, when PS Jarra phoned to ask me to return to Banjul. I arrived in Banjul around 7 o’clock evening,” he said.
Gen. Badjie denied being fired. He said he was merely redeployed.
“The letter I received said I have been redeployed to the Foreign Ministry. And you know the difference between redeployed and fired. I do not know under what capacity, I will serve at the Foreign Ministry. Perhaps, I will find out on Monday, when I report to the Ministry,” he added.
Gen. Badjie has been replaced by Lt. Gen. Masaneh Kinteh, the former Gambian Ambassador to Cuba. Mr. Kinteh, was president Adama Barrow’s security aide, until his elevation to the position of CDS.
“As we speak, the Chief of Defense Staff, is no other person other Lt. Gen. Masaneh Kinteh; my predecessor. And I am happy that he is coming back to take over the mantle of leadership of the armed forces from me. I am happy. I trained him and I know the armed forces and the entire Gambian security are in better hands because I trained him. I know his capabilities,” Gen. Badjie remarked.
“Tomorrow, we are going to put pen to paper; and then he would take of the responsibility and I would say goodbye to our armed forces that I loved most. I would say goodbye to the Gambia armed forces,” he added.
Gen. Badjie tells Freedom Radio Gambia that he is not mad at the government for letting him go. He said he has accepted his redeployment at good faith.
“Not bitter at all. I am ready to serve with humility, integrity and honesty anywhere; even as a watchman, or as a cleaner,” Gen. Badjie humbly remarked.
The former army boss also denied reports that he promoted MA Bah from the rank of Colonel to General. He said he has no powers to promote a commissioned officer. Badjie said Bah was promoted to Major by the former president Yahya Jammeh.
“My capacity as CDS, I can promote from Lance Corporal to Warrant Officer Class one. But from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel, I can recommend to the Commander-in-chief, who is the president; who can approve or disapprove. From Colonel to whatever General, it is the Command-in-chief, who recommends, and it is he himself, who approves and promotes. I cannot promote a second lieutenant,” Gen. Badjie said.
Mr. Badjie also denied that the former CDS Colonel Ndure Cham, was captured in the Gambia. He is not aware of the arrest of Ndure Cham. He said Cham is residing outside the territory of The Gambia.
“Ndure Cham was never captured in the Gambia. Who told you that he was captured in the Gambia? He was never captured. It is a lie. Ndure Cham, has never been captured in the Gambia. How can he be captured when Ndure Cham is somewhere in the world? That doesn’t make sense. Ndure Cham has not been arrested by anyone,” he said adding that he is also not aware about the arrest Mahawa Cham and Saul Ndow.
Regarding allegations that he (Gen. Badjie) and Bajinka were onetime assigned by Jammeh to collect suitcases filled with foreign currency from the late Congo dictator Mobutu, Badjie ran into laughter. He categorically denied the allegations. He said he has never been to Congo.
Mr. Badjie also said he is not aware of dictator Jammeh bailing out the army with rice, cooking oil and condiments. This followed news reports indicating that the army was running out of ration. Hence, the former Gambian dictator decided to come to their aid.
Gen. Ousman Badjie, has served in various capacities in the army. He said his hands are clean, and that he has nothing fear or hide.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai