A seasoned Gambian security expert has commended the Minister of Interior for taking great strides towards addressing the country’s internal security.
Modou Lamin Faye, a US-based Gambian criminologist, specialising on law enforcement and national security crisis, said Minister Seyaka Sonko has taken significant steps to improve the country’s internal security.
“A head of security’s job can be challenging and stressful because you are constantly ‘steering the soup’ to see what seasoning needs to be added in the pot to perfect the soup. In other words, it is your responsibility to know what your nation’s internal security forces and emergency management needs to do to the best of their abilities in safeguarding the country.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank the Honourable Minister of Interior, Mr. Seyaka Sonko and his team for reaching out to the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Gambia, His Excellency Ambassador Lui Jin to work together and strengthen the security of the Gambia on February 8th, 2023. “This is a good example of what The Gambian people expect from every senior government official or head of a department. If everyone holding a higher position in the government do their part and spend more time going out in the field to hunt for what the Gambia needs to evolve or pave the way for generations to come and spend less time sitting in their offices bossing people around, then I have no doubt that we will progress,” he said.
Faye said he hopes this continues and that other senior government officials would learn from this, be productive, and get “out of their offices to see what their departments need to better serve the public”.
“Honorable Minister, while I commended you on the steps that you have taken to strengthen our internal security, I would also like to stress the fact that time is against our officers who are on the frontline,” he said.
He added that the robbery incident that happened on Sunday, February 12th, 2023, at one of the PIU checkpoints in Fass Njaga Choi where one officer, Lamin Jammeh was shot in his left hand and two others severely wounded is a good example that “we need to move fast and train the public, especially these officers”. “Carrying a rifle or handgun is one thing and being mentally, and psychologically prepared to use lethal force to eliminate a threat is another. Therefore, we should train them to mentally, psychologically, and physically be prepared to quickly react to threats like the incident in Fass Njaga Choi and use lethal force when necessary to save themselves and others. The incident that happened in Fass Njaga Choi wasn’t the only incident that happened around our borders, which is sad because the government failed to put measures in place to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again,” he added.
He added: “I understand that the word ‘deadly force’ might sound like a big deal in the Gambia, but may I highlight the fact that enforcing laws and using whatever force necessary to eliminate a threat does not go with social norms or with people’s feelings. Because we worry so much about the public opinion on how we enforce the laws of the land to deter people from committing horrific crimes like this, the criminals use that to their advantage and have the audacity to harm the citizens who pay taxes to be protected.
“Sending our officers to the frontline without properly equipping them while top officials like you are peacefully sitting in your offices or homes isn’t fair to our officers and their families. Therefore, it’s time to step up to these bad guys who are freely crossing our borders to come and do whatever they want and leave. We also need to understand that we have more people from all over the world with different styles of living in The Gambia and they know how our security forces operate or respond to crimes,” Faye added.
He further stated that it is time for the National Assembly to step up and “do the job that taxpayers are paying them to do”.
“They can start by being tough on crime, introducing the deadly or lethal force for our officers and the citizens to use in situations where their lives are in danger. It is time for you decision makers to do right by the public, especially our first responders and start treating/protecting them like how you guys would want to be treated/protected if you were in their shoes. Let us all keep in mind that being a good person/leader goes beyond praying and giving out charities. It’s about putting your feelings and personal beliefs aside and doing the right thing,” he added.