SIS RESPONSE TO FREEDOM NEWSPAPER ONLINE PUBLICATION ON ITS DIRECTOR GENERAL

The Office of Strategic Communication of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), has noticed the recent publication on the Freedom online media an article concerning its Director General (DG) Mr. Ousman Sowe and by extension the SIS as a whole.

In this regard, and as a responsible public institutions that is worthy of the public’s confidence and trust, the SIS hereby wishes to set the record right. Again this in tandem with and inline with its current reforms, restructuring, recasting, reshaping and rebranding efforts to making the SIS a professional institution at the service of the Gambia’s people, peace and security agenda.

Thus the SIS wish to from the onset state that contrary to so-called insider’s description of the DG as a divisive person, state and in no unequivocal terms that DG Sowe is a UNIFIER, a measured, fair hardworking, focused, clever, tribe-blind and not inept DG who has brought integrity, respect, pride to us as staff and the SIS as a national institutions in so short a time, since he took over. He is credit to the SIS and those who interact with him describe him as a gem in the Gambia national security system and by extension the Gambia government as whole. We are of the view that he is the best man at this time of our national security and development phase.

Hence we wish to bring to the attention of your readership that the publication about the DG is far from his character. Anyone who knows DG can attest to this. He is too decent and guarded for the malicious, ill-intended, spiteful, irresponsible, and unkind comments in the publication meant to misinform the public and to create undue embarrassment and disrepute to the honorable DG and the SIS as a whole.

Therefore the narratives therein stated are unsubstantiated and mainly based on character assassination. The SIS without undue malice or prejudice, and conscious of the fact it is a public institution accountable to the government and people of The Gambia, gives the following response on the publication to the extent possible, while safeguarding its responsibility of not divulging sensitive information on operational matters which shall as par standard practice remain secret.

To that effect, and given that the article is considered an attack on the Office of the Director General which is by implication an attack on the entire SIS as a government institution, we hereunder refute and condemn in the strongest possible terms this malevolent article, while we challenge the awareness of the author about the issues within the SIS as a responsible and noble state institution.

In the malign statement that the SIS DG “is instituting divide and rule system…”, the author exposes his/her ignorance that since his taking office as DG, one of Mr. Ousman Sowe’s first assertions and subsequent actions is to make the SIS reflect a national character where all tribes are equal. Tribe and divisive sentiments are not matters any staff dares to raise with the DG. This has created hope and inspire all thus contrary to the claims that the due to DG’s divisiveness personnel are leaving, all staff are accounted for.

He has also reallocated and redeployed resources across the country in a judicious manner without any biases, based on merit and professional requirement. E.g:

  • He took the bull by the horn by making roadworthy most of the vehicles within limited internal budget resources, thereby ameliorating operational deficits vis-à-vis mobility, thanks to him the response capacity across the country is much improved.
  • He promoted on merit over Ninety (90) SIS personnel cutting across all sections and across the country regardless of tribe or affiliation whatsoever, while confirming four (4) Directors some of whom were in acting positions for many years.
  • In barely three months since his appointment as DG he instituted a staff academic qualification audit based on which his management facilitated the sponsorship of personnel to pursue advance studies in various fields relevant to the institution’s capacity building needs while promoting all staff of higher qualifications who have not been for years to their commensurate grades. Again without consideration to tribe or gender.
  • Worth mentioning is also that as much as the SIS DG respects regimentation as in all discipline institutions, he has an open-door policy to all staff regardless of rank, tribe, qualification or affiliation. His characteristic versatility in speaking all the major local languages of this country make him an even much easier person to interact with.

The facts we state above, amongst many more are just a few to share for now. However, your readership would notice that the author lacks an iota of fact to back up his disingenuous claim of the DG’s institution of divide and rule system.

As opposed to the author’s fictitious claim of mass attrition due to dissatisfaction within the operatives, the SIS has so far not registered a single staff leaving the Service either voluntarily or by Absence without leave (AWOL). Instead, the service has within the past three to four months received piles of application for enlistment while former NIA staffs who were laid off also try to apply for reinstatement. Moreover, recent appraisals have shown that the SIS has comparatively registered a significant increase in overall staff enthusiasm and productivity.

This is partly manifested by the fact that personnel of the SIS under the current administration have so far been able to register an unprecedented professionalism in their operations, and significant increase in information collection and intelligence production, and indications are that the trend would continue if not double in the near future. This is a clear manifestation that staffs of the SIS are diligently serving their country with dignity and pride without compromising the principle of secrecy and compartmentalisation. Indeed this is pride and not disgrace as the SIS was described by your author, the so-called insider.

Furthermore, it is easy to notice in the article the sharp contrast between the author’s deceitful claim that the SIS DG is, as he/she puts it, “relegating and denigrating against operatives believed to be closer to the former DG Yankuba Badjie” and his/her later assertion that “He [DG Sowe] was a good buddy of Yankuba Badjie and General Badjie. How can one be a good buddy of Yankuba Badjie and General Badjie and yet be relegating and denigrating against people close to the duo. In fact DG Sowe had had no personal relationship neither contacts with General Badjie while the only relationship between the SIS DG and Yankuba Badjie was purely professional as colleagues in the then NIA. The records and testimonies are there to speak.

Contrary to the author’s devious claim, the SIS DG Ousman Sowe had never been dismissed from the then NIA and had never been an LO for the Agency in Seirra Leone.

In addition when he was appointed Director of External Security Daba Marena was not serving in the Agency then. We therefore wonder how Sowe greased Daba Marena’s palms as deceitfully claimed by the author. Thus it is undeniably disheartening and greatly inhumane on the side of the author that he/she would not even let the DEAD rest peacefully not to talk of the living.

Records have also shown that during his tenure in the then NIA neither Mr. Sowe nor any of his subordinates were ever found wanting in any way not to talk of befriending hostile targets or leaking classified information. Such acts could have not gone unpunished and as a matter of fact, such allegations by the author can never be substantiated.

On the contrary, it is the author who should be guilty of leaking classified information by the unauthorized publication of names of secret service officials which should otherwise be kept silent.

From Director of External Security Mr. Sowe was redeployed to State House as Deputy Permanent Secretary and not dismissed and later when he became Permanent Secretary, at Interior in 2013 he got scholarship for himself to study in Malta.

It is worth stating that thanks to his outstanding performance and negotiations with the University he was able to secure the reservation of that scholarship package for The Gambia. Out of his credibility and international relations he further negotiated for another scholarship package in Germany and as at now both scholarships are benefiting Gambians as currently four Gambians have benefited in masters studies in the area of diplomacy and regional integration course in Malta and Germany respectively. These Gambians are serving and advancing the development agenda of this country. It is therefore evident that instead of grabbing scholarships as untruly claimed by the author, Mr. Ousman Sowe had earned scholarships for people he might not have even been close to.

Again contrary to the author’s accusation of DG Sowe being a spendthrift and selfish, and the insinuation that he was sacked from the bank, which was not the case it is worth noting that he has served in various Ministries as Permanent Secretary including the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Environment. In each of these ministries just like at the FIBank and Action Aid where he served in manager positions respectively, he has left enviable track records of excellence and outstanding performance as records from these ministries, bank and NGO can attest. Instead of being sacked from the bank DG Sowe had an appointment with Action Aid while working at the bank. Upon his appointment at Action Aid the bank was even reluctant to let him go. Therefore and needless to say, no bank would want to keep a spendthrift.

The author in his flagrant disregard to the integrity of our current democratic dispensation even went as far as not only accusing the Government and politicians but also important personalities for influencing Mr. Sowe’s appointment as DG SIS.

Thus must we say his appointment as DG SIS was entirely out of the trust and confidence bestowed on him by the President and his government, coupled with his experience in the business of intelligence, management and administration. For this there are records on the ground to prove.

DG Sowe is currently busy rebuilding a professional and reputable intelligence service through rigorous reforms, restructuring and capacity building efforts most of which are already evident for all to see. Since his assumption to office, there had not been a single report of extrajudicial tendency by the SIS and the level of international cooperation and high level engagements that the SIS has so far had never been this strong. If the SIS is to communicate in twit terms, it would use DG Sowe’s famous slogan #NO MORE EXCESSES.

A DG with no sense of direction would have not come this far within a very short period of time.

The accusation that DG “travelled (himself) countless times within a short spell” as opposed to his only less than a five-fingers count  foreign trips some of which were at no cost to government and all of which were called for by necessity, makes us question the author’s comprehension of the word “countless”.

For the so-called insider we message is that is if he needs reminding, the SIS is an Intelligence Service that works on information like all other Intelligence Services and thus hereby challenges the author to prove his/her patriotism by furnishing this Service or any other relevant government institution of his/her choice with germane and credible information concerning the unaccounted weapons allegedly hidden in soldiers’ houses, landmines planted in the Fonis, polarization within the army, among others as alleged in the article. Failure of this would undoubtedly demonstrate his/her ineptitude or better still unpatriotic character by hoarding information detrimental to the preservation national security.

The author finally signed off as An Insider. If indeed he/she is an insider, then this is a flagrant circumvention of set standards and procedures by publishing an article calculated to mar the reputation of this most noble Service, its honorable office of the Director General and by extension its entire staff. The author must have harbored deep seated grudges and dissatisfaction towards the DG and the establishment.

It is unfortunate that such unwarranted comments have been brought to the attention of your mass readership without any prove whatsoever of what is stated therein.

To conclude, the SIS wish to inform the Freedom and all media outlets that its doors are open and the Service would henceforth appreciate that it be contacted for any further information or clarifications on issues, articles or information before publication.

We thank you for the space to publish our response

From: SIS Directorate of Public Relations & Strategic Communications

Editors Note: The piece above was emailed to us by someone purportedly claiming to be representing Gambia’s Intelligence Agency-the State Intelligence Services (SIS). We could not verify the authenticity of the email, but based on its content, the author is holding a solid brief for the Agency and its Director General Mr. Ousman Sowe. This is what we expect from the government, including intelligence institutions such as the (SIS) in this new Gambia. We appreciate the rejoinder. In any given story, there is another side to it. Hence, in the spirit of fair reporting, we deem it crucially imperative to run the rejoinder purportedly coming from the SIS. Thanks for the assuring statement that the agency’s doors are open to the media for clarification of stories. Thanks for your attention. 

Join The Conversation