Monday, November 28

On Omar Sarjo’s dismissal: More clarity needed

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On 23 October 2020, Government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh caused quite a stir when he claimed that the Barrow administration has dismissed several non-Gambians enlisted into the armed forces.

Defence minister Sheikh Omar Faye, Interior minister Yankuba Sonko, Nztional Security Adviser Momodou Badjie and government mouthpiece Ebrima Sankareh organised a heated presser requested by the president to “address issues of misinformation and lies circulated by detractors of the government.” However, clearly, the lies and misinformation were not addressed.

Sankareh boldly claimed “one Omar Sarjo who enlisted into GAF with fake credential, trained and served until he was finally dismissed and voluntarily left the shores of The Gambia. Sarjo now lives in his native Casamance in Southern Senegal.

“Sarjo was a guy who lived in Marakissa for so long he then used his familiarity with Marakissa to be enlisted in the National Army. All the credentials he presented were Gambian credentials – you know how things go here – you can just go because people are so hospitable you get a birth certificate and one document to another. But when the Barrow presidency came to power, they decided to do a thorough vetting process and it was in that process that Sarjo and several others were actually identified and removed.” Well, that news grew old faster than a bamboo because no sooner The Standard published that story than Omar Sarjo came forward, yeah here in The Gambia, not in “his native Casamance”.

Things unfolded badly, and quickly, for Omar who was later charged with acquiring Gambian documents by false pretense. That decision by the Gambia Immigration Department to take him to court could only mean they were able to establish that he is not a Gambian. Did they?

Earlier this week, the Army released a statement explaining how and why Omar was dismissed from GAF. The Army claimed a joint investigation was conducted but there was no evidence to prove that Omar Sarjo is the son of Salif Sadio, leader of the MFDC in Casamance. The only reason the army said he was dismissed was because he “gained admission into the GAF under false pretense.”

Government said Omar was dismissed for being a non-Gambian. Army said Omar was dismissed for enlisting under false pretense. GID is prosecuting Omar for trying to obtain a Gambian passport in 2018. Three different entities have three different positions on the same man. Therefore, for the sake of the protracted SSR, which is meant to downsize and rightsize the country’s security forces, more clarity is needed in Omar’s case.  Over to you President Barrow!