Dear Mr Editor,
Please allow me some space in your wisely read newspaper to express my fears to the Gambians President my commander in Chief. Your Excellency I was an immigration officer of nearly 16 years of service to my country and have been among your security officials who used to go your farms to work to help you. Sir I know for sure most of us in the security have served you diligently with dedicated and loyalty. We praise sing your name and run after your vehicle, we obeyed your orders without asking whether such orders are constitutional or not. All we cared about are as long as it is an executive order it must be obeyed but sir every one of us knew in truth, when executive order conflicts with the constitution, the order of the constitution should be followed. So it means therefore that most of us in uniform have betrayed our oath of duty to the Gambians people as we swore to carry out our duties without fear favour ill will or affection.
Your Excellency, the resent rumour of death of a protester under state police custody really troubled my heart and I was left with many sleepless nights thinking of the victim’s wife and children as a family man myself. In my view the state could have avoided this situation if proper security protocols were followed. Our constitution which is the supreme law of the Gambia, forbids torture of all forms and I couldn’t imagine how someone could be tortured in the Gambia to the point of killing the person. I am no politician but a service personnel therefore I intend to speak in security perspectives. When such things happen, swift investigations should have been launched to ascertain the truth and the general public should be assured that the law would be applied to the fullest on anyone who violate their duty as security officers. But unfortunately state security failed and as a result more protests were staged with opposition leaders out on to the streets with our national flag demanding the dead body and those detained to be handed over to them.
Here again instead of calming the situation by allowing them to march ahead with police escort, security were unleashed on them beating them while other bystanders were taking videos and pictures spreading them on social media thus tarnishing the image of our country and all blame should be directed on the security leadership for publicly violating the constitution. Some others who do not know how security should be executed in scenarios like this alleged that even at the death of someone in detention opposition leaders should first seek a permit before going out on the streets but sir I disagree. In situations like this angry families and those affected would not have thought of any permit at the material time of their outrage. We are securities officials yes but we are human first before wearing the uniform so putting ourselves in their shoes all of those families would have done the math. Your Excellency I would take you as an example.
When your aunt was said to have died mysteriously, Sir you did not wait for parliament to make witch hunting legal in the country instead security forces were sent round the country to pick suspected witched and our constitution does not permit witch hunting so you see maybe you also acted out of anger and you are our commander in chief. Sir all Gambians are under the law including you therefore no one is an island. The rule is for all citizens including my commander in chief which is you.
Sir to avoid any further escalations of the present situations which is no doubt causing hardship for many people I am referring to the Gambia/Senegalese boarder issue which has also added salt to injury causing a lot of difficulty for the Gambia which boarders no other country in the world only Senegal except for the Atlantic Ocean and as an immigration officer, I knew all goods and basic commodities coming into the Gambia by land must pass through Senegal therefore if these boarder closure escalate beyond how it already has, Gambians would scream for help as difficulty for the poor farmers would worsen further. If swift actions are not immediately taken to remedy that problem, it could lead to national crisis and the truth is no one wins in a chaotic situation.
Today the Gambia is in a very volatile situation and my fear is if those demonstrators go out on the streets again like they’ve been doing for the past days and my colleagues decide to fire on them when they failed to disperse, the Gambia could definitely descend into civil strife and God forbid because such would destroy our beautiful country. Sir I belief you are under oath to defend the constitution to the best of your ability without fear, favour ill will or affection and you must remember all Gambians including those in the opposition are part of your administration.
You are the President of the whole Gambia including even the opposition therefore their safety and security is part of your oath of office. Sir these are reasons I think for peace to prevail, I am writing to you in this open letter for you to consider stepping down or possibly retiring quietly and hand over to someone else. That interim leader whether he/she anyone of your choice who would complete your term and am sure such a person would give you the same honour you gave the former Head of State so that all can continue to live in peace and prosperity the Gambia is known for worldwide. I hope you would heed my humble advice and give it a thorough thinking as it is the best way to leave with dignity after serving your country as President because if you are forced out of power, mostly those who forced you would have grudges against you that led them into going against you. Think about it.
Kebba Samateh UK