By Mustapha Jallow
Sergeant Modou Lamin Bah alias ‘ML Bah’ who hails from Jarra Bureng in the Lower River Region (LRR), calls for his reinstatement into the Armed Forces since he was wrongfully dismissed, arrested and detained at the Yundum Barracks for 6 months, during the former regime of Yaya Jammeh.
Narrating what happened, Mr Bah said even though he was wrongfully arrested in 2008 and tried by the High Court who subsequently acquitted and discharged him, he is yet to be reinstated back into the Gambia Armed Forces.
The ex-military police officer said he was told by the then camp commander that a senior officer in authority, instructed for him to be arrested and dismissed from the army.
‘‘I am a member of GAF. Whatever crime or offence I may be accused of, I’ve a right to a fair trial but not to send me out just like that, without observing any rule which I feel was unlawful and unconstitutional,’’ he explained.
He said: ‘‘I am not an ordinary soldier. I am a Non-Commission Officer. So I cannot be dismissed like that. If you have to dismiss me, there are procedures that you need to follow.’’
Explaining his ordeal, Bah said after his arrest and detention at Yundum barracks, he was led in a vehicle and transported to Police headquarters in Banjul, where he spent 4 days before he was arraigned in a lower-court in Banjul and charged with conspiracy and robbery.
‘‘The charges came to me as a surprise. I was remanded in mile prisons for 4 years 6 months while I was being tried. After 4 years 6 months and 10-days, I was acquitted and discharged on all the allegations levelled against me,’’ he explained.
According to Bah, following his acquittal, his Counsel Borry Touray, wrote a letter on his behalf for him to be reinstated into the Armed Forces. He added, ‘‘The letter was written and sent to the defence headquarters but they refused to reinstate me”. He said he later received a threat which forced him to seek sanctuary in neighbouring Senegal where he spent three years, pointing out that he returned to the country following the change of government.
‘‘During the swearing in ceremony of President Barrow in Senegal, I was part of those present as refugees there. The next day, we had a meeting with President Barrow where he asked us to return home to our various areas of responsibility, to help him develop the nation which was an excellent idea”.
He said most of his colleagues who returned, have been called and reinstated into the army, but he is yet to be called by the Army even though he had expressed interest to re-join. He continued: ‘‘they said they (the Army) will call me when they need me and since then I have not heard from them’’. He added that he has suffered a lot and that his incarceration and dismissal from the Armed Forces has affected his son’s education.
“I’m a professional soldier that wants to serve my country and take care of my family”, Bah said with emotion.