By Mustapha Jallow
Paramilitary personnel have arrested a man in Tranquil, who the Senegalese military said is the Alkalo of the area.
The disputed Alkalo is one Saysu Badjie. His residence is just a stone throw from the Gambian military base in Tranquil.
Tranquil is a residence along the Gambian-Senegal border which has been witnessing series of confrontation. The border line between the two countries is not clearly defined and this has been the source of conflict.
Sources informed Foroyaa that Saysu Badjie was picked up by a group of paramilitary officers on Tuesday, 18 July 2023.
“He was picked up in the evening and taken away to an unknown destination. Currently, we do not know where he’s being held. But we can confirm to you that he’s still detained,” our sources said, on condition of anonymity.
Foroyaa sent the reporter to Tranquil for fact-checking mission on Sunday, 23 July.
Saysu’s borther, Buba confirmed his arrest saying he was picked up by Gambian security personnel.
“He is still detained by the Gambian authorities. I am yet to see him. I was at my farmland during his arrest. I heard the news when I returned home,” Buba said.
He added: “If you want to know why he Saysu was arrested, I will refer you to both Gambia and Senegal authorities.”
He declined making further comments.
Musa Tabally Bojang, the Alkalo of Darsilami village said Sayusa’s arrest came in the wake of an encounter between Gambian and Senegalese soldiers. He stated that the Senegalese soldiers were heavily armed.
Bojang said on 14 June the Senegalese troops said they were going to greet their Alkalo, Sayusa, but the Gambian soldiers denied them entry access. The Gambian soldiers said they need to obtain permission because the place Sayusa is residing is in the Gambian territory. Bojang said Sayusa’s residence is just few steps from the Gambian military base in Tranquil.
“Our soldiers stopped and asked them why did they did not inform them before coming. The Senegalese military also told them that they were going to greet their own Alkalo Saysu. And the Senegalese officers claimed Tranquil is their territory because the village is in Senegal,” Bojang explained.
He added: “It nearly looked ugly but the Senegalese forces later left and that was the time soldiers in the Gambian side decided to inform their authorities to take actions otherwise it might result in gun battle.”
He said Saysu was arrested four days later.
“The officers felt that he is in the center fueling the situation between Senegal and Gambia,” he said.
Bojang said he was invited for questioning at the police headquarters.
Bojang advocated for the border line to be clearly defined to restore peace and stability in that area.
At a Senegalese military base in Touba-Tranquil, the reporter interviewed the Senegalese soldiers to get their side of the story.
The Commander who spoke to the reporter said their reason for trying to visit Sayusa was they were providing escort to an NGO group who were out looking for the refugees’ state of wellbeing.
“You know it is not safe to leave officials go like that. Of course, they need our escort. Our intention was not to cause any troubles, but we were on the way to meet our Alkalo Saysu first before meeting Gambian soldiers. As we were escorting these officials, we were stopped by the soldiers of Gambia, asking us to return to our territory. There was push and pull, but they later decided to leave,” the senior officer narrated.
Within few days, he said they heard that Alkalo Sayusa Badjie was picked up by Gambian security forces. The senior military officer said they do not mean any harm to Gambia – instead they were trying to visit their recognized Alkalo.
“Border tensions between Gambia and Senegal have been going on since. But after all, we are brothers and sisters. The only thing that will solve the matter is for authorities from Gambia and Senegal to do demarcation of the area,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saysu had spent 6 days in detention and is still counting.