Exiled Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh can return to the country unnoticed according to a Minister of the Adama Barrow government, the local Standard newspaper reports.
Hamat Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, said lack of professionalism and corruption at the country’s international airport had become a national security risk.
Speaking during a high-level meeting at the seat of government, State House, the minister said it was public knowledge that security officials at the Banjul International Airport were not focusing on their duties stressing that “even Jammeh could pass there unnoticed.”
He was reacting to a recent report that two former Jammeh-era generals who went into exile with him had slipped through the borders and had only been arrested at their homes.
“How on earth could those people (Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tampa) pass through all the security checks to go and come without being noticed by anyone? These are issues we have to look at and see how best we can better the security service.”
Umpa Mendy, Jammeh’s principal protection officer, and the former head of the State Guards Battalion Ansumana Tamba had both accompanied the former leader into exile. An army statement said they flew back into Gambia last weekend.
“They were arrested at their respective homes … and are currently detained at the Yundum Military Barracks, where they are helping the military police with their investigations,” the statement said. It did not say why the two men returned to Gambia or on what charges they had been arrested.
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Barrow is still seeking to assert control following the end of 22 years of Jammeh’s rule under which the military served as a key pillar of a regime notorious for jailing and torturing political opponents.
The new government has replaced or dismissed a number of senior military officers, some of them suspected of being members of a group called the Jungulars, which many Gambians say carried out killings on behalf of the government.
However, the army still contains many former supporters of Jammeh. Barrow’s allies have repeatedly warned of the possibility that exiled officers were working to undermine the new government from abroad.