|Abubakar Jawara, Proprietor of GACH|
The IGP's January 12th press release confirmed that the Gambia Angola China Company, known locally by its acronym CAGH applied for a license to "import single barrel rifles for hunting and recreational purposes in The Gambia."
The IGP claimed that it was during routine security inspection that they discovered that "38 of the guns were not the type authorized" for importation and were thus impounded and an investigation team from the various branches of the security establishment impaneled "to look into the matter as to whether these (presumably the 38 guns) are categories of hunting guns, as claimed by the importer."
By conveniently omitting the total number of guns clearly shown on the "packing list", the IGP is deliberately, and by implication, limiting its investigations to the 38 rifles when the packing list is showing that there were a total of 1,200 semiautomatic rifles and an additional 50 units of pump action BR-18s to allow for conversation of the weapons.
The End User Certificate (EUC) which is issued by the Gambia Police Force headed by the IGP and signed by the importer i.e. CAGH with the company stamped lists the exact same figures of 1,200 BR-32s and 33s and 50 pump action attachments. Where are all the weapons?
During the National Assembly debate this week, the Interior Minister was asked by a parliamentarian whether "government intends to prosecute the owner of the company called CAGH who imported guns into the country without any authorization."
In response, the minister revealed that the Inspector General of Police approved the license that allowed Mr. Jawara of GACH to import hunting rifles. However, GACH took the liberty of including "two (2) pieces magazine-fed, semiautomatic guns, three (3) cross-fire magazine-fed guns and eight (8) pieces sentient F99T blank pistols"...not covered by the license."
Despite this, the Interior Minister didn't see any contradiction in his claim that an unidentified ballistics expert confirmed that these arms were meant for hunting. Nothing short of an independent investigation by an outside group will suffice in help shed light on this murky deal that has all the hallmarks of a regional security threat.
The debate revealed two important developments i.e. the National Assembly's Select Committee on Security is investigating the matter and that the same issue is before the courts. While the former is welcomed, the latter has left us wondering why the matter is in court in the first instance and what is being litigated.
Whatever the case, this issue will not be laid to rest until the Gambian people's concerns are addressed. Military-grade weapons such as the ones listed in the End User Certificate (BR-32 and BR-33) have no place in our country. They are a threat to both the military and the civilian population. Therefore, as we have said in the past, they must be confiscated, publicly destroyed and appropriate legal action taken against all those who have broken the law or committed an administrative error.