Operation ‘Bulldozer’ launched
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Gambian leader has spoken tough of his government’s zero tolerance for all forms of criminal activity, prompting him to spearhead and launch what he called ‘Operation Bulldozer’ that will seek to weed the nation of criminals. He warned that The Gambia under his watchful eyes will not be a safe haven for criminals such as murderers, rapists, homosexuals, paedophiles, 419ers, drug and human traffickers, while deploring the heinous crimes committed in the country in recent times.
His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh was
speaking Tuesday evening at State House in Banjul during a meeting with the
members of the National Security Council under the chair of Vice President Aja
Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy.The Gambian leader’s comments are coming week(s) after
heinous crimes were committed in the country, including the murder of a British
national in the country allegedly by some Nigerian nationals.
The president was very clear in his strong message, stating
that he is personally going to supervise and command the ‘Operation Bulldozer’
with a view to ensure that criminals are tracked down in the soonest possible
time. “The reason why I called you [the National Security Council]
is that we have to get rid of all the criminal elements and we are going to
call it Operation Bulldozer and I will personally supervise that.
I want all
the criminals out of this country and those who are Gambians, they would have
to go to jail because we will not allow less than one percent of the population
to hold a country’s destiny at ransom – that is unacceptable. Anybody who
thinks that your citizens are criminals, tell them to stay in your country
because if they come to The Gambia, they are asking for more trouble. Drug
dealers, paedophiles, homosexuals, murderers, drug traffickers, human
traffickers, 419, we are not going to tolerate that in this country – black or
white I don’t care.
I am not a racist but all criminals whether black or white should leave the country if they are not Gambians. As from now, I want to make sure that anybody can walk in Serrekunda or Manjai, or Brikama or Kanilai at 4am with a bag of money on his hand and nobody would ask him why. Criminals holding people hostage is not going to happen as far as I am the president of this country,” the Gambian leader vowed.
President Jammeh told the National Security Council that one
of the reasons why he called them is for him to make it very clear to them that
“no diplomacy or aid or friendship” would allow him to allow people to destroy
his country. Stating that everybody is welcome to this country, the Gambian
leader said criminals are not welcome.
“Those who think that their bad habits from outside can be
brought to this country, they are making a grave mistake. We are not going to
tolerate criminal behaviour and crime in whatever form is unacceptable. We have
zero tolerance for crime and we are not going to compromise on that
irrespective of whether or not we signed any protocol with anybody. If Gambians
who are criminals go to jail; I see no reason why foreigners would enjoy it
here if you are a criminal.
As from now I want criminals to be ready because we
have to clean the Greater Banjul Area before the 22nd of June and I am giving
you one month of intensive operation. Any criminals’ den, demolish it. Anybody
who is allowing your premises to be used by criminals, you are asking for
trouble. We are also going to look at the laws, maybe apply the same as we did
If you allow your premises to be used for criminal purpose, it will
be forfeited to the state. We cannot harbour criminals,” the president further
warned. To this end, he urged the authorities concerned to start
working on the team of the Bulldozer Operation, saying they want to make sure
that no criminal will sleep in Serrekunda or any part of this country.
He continued: “And for armed robbers, I will give you [the
security forces] these messages – shoot first and ask questions later because
we cannot allow armed robbers to terrorize innocent people in this country. In
fact armed robbers are not welcome in this country, the fact that they are
armed it means an invasion of the privacy of the citizens – they shoot people
and get their properties; that is not going to happen in this country.
armed robbers shoot first and ask for questions later and if anybody has any
objection to that let him come and ask me; it is not in our nature, armed
robbers are a new phenomenon. The last time we had almost 50 cases of murder in
one year, it is not going to happen this year. You [the IGP] warn your police
stations and you [The CDS] warn your soldiers that security is security and if
the police needs assistance, give them assistance.
With regards to the armed robber phenomenon that I will hand over to the CDS, you handle that because the fact that they are armed is no longer a police matter; if you arrest them, hand them over to the police to prosecute them – but as I said shoot and ask questions later because we are not going to tolerate this nonsense.”
While observing that the armed robbers have been on the rampage for a very long time, the Gambian leader spoke of his government’s commitment to put a stop to it. He said not under his watchful eyes is he going to allow this country to be synonymous with armed robbery, warning that robbers will be prosecuted to the letter.
He continued: “So I don’t care what nationality an armed
robber is, Gambian or non-Gambian, we don’t care because you are a criminal and
we will deal with you like that. Criminals have no place in our society. So
those who would be talking about human rights, they can talk about it, I have
not seen anywhere what formula they are using that criminals that constitute
less than one percent of a population hold the entire population to ransom and
their so-called rights are being defended by these criminals.
People who want
to make money in the name of human rights that is your business but in this
country, criminals will have no rights as far as I am concerned because the
mere fact that you go and kill somebody and take his property, what rights do
you have? So you will face the full force of the law and whatever the law says,
I am going to apply it to the letter.”
The Gambian leader also used the Tuesday meeting to assert
that he will not pardon a murderer, drug dealer, paedophile, homosexual, rapist
or human trafficker given the heinous nature of the crimes they committed.
“So if you are writing to me asking for pardon, you are making
a great mistake. So if you have a relative that is a drug dealer, warn him
because if he is caught and convicted, writing to me is a waste of time because
there is no way I am going to pardon him. This is a country of religion, we are
Muslims and Christians here and none of the two books encourage homosexuality,
or praise murderers and criminals.
In fact in the Holy Quran these are all capital punishments. I think we really have to look at our laws to reflect our culture because as Africans we must use laws that will protect our cultural values. We cannot bring an alien law that people don’t understand and so we have to work towards incorporating our traditional values into our legal system. Our laws must not only reflect our cultural values but must also protect our cultural institutions,” he stated.
President Jammeh again urged the National Security Council to go and work out the logistics that they will need for this operation. “If need be we will get you the vehicles for this Special Operation and all the vehicles will be labeled Bulldozer and we are not going to leave any rubbish thing standing because we are going to bulldoze any criminal institution in this country,” he added.
The Gambian leader also seized the opportunity to praise the members of the Gambia Police Force for what he called their great work, notably in tracking down the alleged perpetrators of the infamous assault on the Coco Ocean proprietor and murderers of a British national within a very short period after the incidents.
“The last time I blasted the IG and his police but I also
want to commend you for doing a very efficient job. In my system there is
punishment and reward – when somebody does something good, he should be
rewarded and so we really want to commend you for this. I think the public can
see what the Police Force was supposed to look like and when you have people
who are really dedicated to work and do their job with their hearts what can be
done in any given situation.
About four cases but I think two stand out – one was the attempted murder of the proprietor of Coco Ocean and within 24 hours they were able to get the culprits or suspects and then the brutal murder of this Briton and within 12 hours they were able to get the people concerned,” he stated, while pledging to give two vehicles to the GPF for the two good jobs.
Author: Hatab Fadera