By Sana Sarr

I see a few calling former APRC council member, Lamin Kaba Bajo, negligent in investigating crimes committed when he was Minister of Interior. Some are even trying to excuse him claiming he did what he had to do to protect his life.

Kaba was not just negligent. He was complicit! From his own testimony, dictator Yaya Jammeh and Kaba joined the Gendarmerie on the same day and became very close friends. They both felt they were denied opportunities for further training and this brought them closer. Jammeh did several favors for Kaba . For instance, according to Bajo, Jammeh alerted him to an opportunity for an overseas training scholarship which not only came in Jammeh’s name, but happened to be Kaba’s first one, then Jammeh went on to do all he could to ensure that Bajo got the scholarship. Jammeh also took up a fight and risked being denied an opportunity when someone disrespected Kaba…etc. Kaba was therefore one of the most loyal friends Jammeh had. The two even had a mantra – “we will not let them set the agenda for us” – based on the idea/sentiment that “the system” meant to keep them down and they refused to get distracted. Kaba’s loyalty to Jammeh can be seen as an admirable quality for a friend. However, I don’t want friends like Kaba Bajo. I want friends who will speak truth to me even, no, ESPECIALLY when everyone else is too selfish or too scared to tell me what they know i don’t want to hear. (Maybe Kaba did and is just not admitting it out of loyalty to Jammeh)…but i digress… As I was saying, Kaba’s extreme loyalty to Jammeh made him not want to see any negative in his friend. He deliberately chose to turn a blind eye to the abuse, torture, murder…and all other criminal activity Jammeh was involved in. As far as we can tell for now, Kaba was not directly involved in any of the abuses (of resources or people), and that’s commendable. However, his “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude was not only negligible, it cleared the way and allowed Jammeh to operate. It goes beyond negligible when the Minister of Interior, responsible for internal security, knowingly and willfully shirks his responsibility to investigate crimes, including the murder of the Minister of Finance…and hiding behind “It wasn’t my responsibility” or “I didn’t know then what i know now” is just cowardice at best.

And think about this if you still doubt how close Jammeh and Kaba were. Kaba was head of State Guards at the State House when the military took over on July 22nd, 1994. It is inconceivable that Jammeh would be involved in a plan to take over the government without letting his very close friend know. On that fateful morning, Kaba went on the US ship, unwillingly he tells us, with President Jawara. Given the history of how the Senegalese came in to forcefully crush the 1981 coup d’etat, it would have made sense for the new junta to be weary that Senegal might try to do the same. It would be reasonable for them to fear that the US military ship that President Jawara had left on might try to reinstate him. It would therefore be logical for them to want to question the returning commander of state guard who was in charge of protecting the president and his family, about the thinking and plans of those on board the ship that had just left with the head of state. This is common sense. It explains why Pa Sallah Jagne, police inspector general, who had left on the same ship, was arrested and detained immediately upon his return. Instead, Kaba Bajo was simply sent home, not questioned at all…and called in and offered, not just a seat in cabinet, but also membership into the special AFPRC council!!! Dafa yomba torrop!

These are only a few of several supporting evidences from Kaba’s testimony, that Lamin Kaba Bajo was a Jammeh loyalist. Bajo, to his credit, may have privately advised Jammeh and decided to keep it confidential, not out of fear  of repercussion, but so as not to embarrass his friend. But the oath of office is

“…without fear or favor, affection or ill will…”

While this loyalty is admirable in a friend, it was a betrayal to the office of Interior Ministry and to the nation. Bajo may not have participated in the murders and tortures. I’m also not sure he acted out of fear or ill will, but it’s crystal clear that when it came to Yaya Jammeh, Lamin Kaba Bajo always acted with “favor and/or affection”, and in that, he let his nation and his friend down!

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke