The musical jamboree of Gambia @52 two in one celebration dotted by match pass of the security forces, school children and civil societies submerged Gambians into a euphoric trance of reassuring peace, tranquillity, contentment and hopefulness. Conversely, beneath all that glittering fanfare lays three deaths and dozens wounded as a result of gross security negligence and police inaptitude at the stadium. Dependable reports emanating from Banjul confirmed the three deaths and dozens wounded gracing Gambia @52 nationhood celebration.
An eye-witness who had a gold invitation card observed, “On arrival at the stadium, I saw a huge crowd of people and few paras at the gate. Some diplomats were even struggling with civilians to enter the stadium. At first I thought is this some kind of a security sabotage? My card was useless as I have to squeeze my way in.”
Another witness also lamented, “People were jumping from the pavilion as it was packed full and no access route to go for refreshment in the loo or outside. The presence of the paras were painfully dispersed. Some other youths were likewise seated at the top of the areal on the left-hand side of the covered pavilion. That was a serious security risk and a potential accident waiting to happen”.
As a former security officer who partook in several parades, crowd control and management, I was socked with the news of such security lapse. A contingent plan must have been drawn by the Commissioner of Operations to curb any contingency of huge 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 unprecedented 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 at Gambia @52 two in one celebration is a gross neglect of duty and ineptitude.
The Hon Minister of Interior must investigate this gross security lapse and ineptitude of the police. President Barrow and his rainbow cabinet will not succeed if their efforts are continually thwarted by the security services. 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 at stadium. It is their constitutional rights to dissent but there should be a time and place for it. One of those demonstrators could have cause harm to the person of the president or any of the state guests. The space of change is slow and painful.
Another 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”. Many believed that most of the security chiefs and heads of units are still loyal to Jammeh. “The success of the celebration is purely due the civilians love and loyalty to Barrow. They did not want anything to rob them of the joy of celebrating”, added another.
“Barrow has lofty dreams and great intention for the Gambia but his efforts will be continually thwarted by bad elements within the security services”, lamented one youth.