By Lamin Sanyang – The properties of Gambia’s exiled former President Jammeh in his native village of Kanilai are abandoned without security guards except a handful of village youths who are acting as guards.
The military encampment was removed while the armed security men were disarmed and redeployed to other military camps by the joint forces of ECOMIG and The Gambia Armed Forces.
The place used to be called ‘the second State House’ where the former president spent most part of his vacation or weekends. It has a very high wall with three gates before reaching the entrance to his house. There were heavily armed security men mounting checkpoints at each of the gates.
Multi million dollar housing projects, farm and zoos among other things were built there by the former President from the state coffers. He used to organized festivals including wrestling competitions, and invited civil servants, public institutions and party supporters to work at his farm.
Apart from the above listed, the place was also known to be dangerous during Jammeh’s era. A deep well said to be the dumping ground for bodies of his victims is located somewhere near his home. Many said he fed the crocodiles in his zoo with the remains of his victims.
The exiled former president was defeated in the last presidential polls. He first conceded defeat but later made a U-turn causing a political impasse prompting sub-regional military intervention. He was forced to relinquish power and went into exiled in Equatorial Guinea.
Meanwhile, walking to the home of the former dictator was quiet interesting but historic as well. There were no sign of security men at the gates. Few youths were brewing green tea at the first gates while the farm workers were going to his farm.
The village youths at the gates said there are no security guards but they took it upon themselves as family members of the former dictator to protect his properties. They said the person in charge is the farm manager, one Major Alieu Sowe, he is the one they working with to guard the properties.
Sowe was called on his phone but declined to talked to our reporters. He ordered them not to allow anyone to enter, saying the order for access should come from the military high command.
“We are family members of the big man and we will protect his properties,” one of the youth said.
Meanwhile, the journey to the former president home was full of unexpected surprises as one could barely see green flags on the road like before.