By Abdou Taal
The former Director General of the State Intelligence Agency (SIS), formerly named the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Yankuba Badjie has not been interrogated yet since his firing about events that transpired at the agency during the transition period impasse and past activities of the agency during his tenure as Director General in the former regime of Ex President Yahya Jammeh who is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, a country under a dictatorship since 1979.
There is a national security risk that Mr Badjie could leave the jurisdiction of The Gambia before he can be questioned by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a commission that the Coalition team has promised in their Memorandum of Understanding agreement.
In another development, many of the soldiers who were part of the entourage that accompanied the former President Yahya Jammeh into exile and those that deserted The Gambia Armed Forces are said to be coming back home and returning to their previous job positions without any consequences.
The Chief of Defense staff should investigate this phenomenon and ensure that proper protocols are followed to address and mitigate any security risks that the returning army personnel may pose. In following army staff protocol, it is extremely unlikely that a personnel who has been Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) or in desertion status would receive the maximum punishment upon return to the military, except in the most aggravating circumstances such as if someone on AWOL goes on a crime-spree.
The primary difference between AWOL and desertion is intent to remain away from the military permanently. If a member deserted, but voluntarily returned, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, and confinement for 2 years are possible disciplinary measures imposed.
However, the vast majority of AWOL and desertion cases are disposed of with an administrative discharge. In cases where the maximum punishment is sought, the accused is tried by a General Court Martial.