Gambian police still probing suspicious arms shipment

Gambian riot police. Photo: Reuters

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – Panic could be subsiding in The Gambia stemming from a suspicious arms shipment impounded at the tiny country’s seaport last week, but police investigations continue, sources told ADV on Sunday.

In a statement over the weekend, the police tried to allay the fear among the population by stating that the arms could belong to a security firm that is registered with the government.

The GACH Security, which is the said firm, provides private security for businesses and private households in the country.

But what seems to be heightening the apprehension is that the assorted consignment of arms contains single barrel rifles that are used for hunting and recreational purposes and which could not be used for a dissident purpose.

Preliminary investigations reveal that GACH had legally applied for licenses to import the arms to meet demand and scarcity of well-regulated hunting guns.

Media reports quoted GACH officials as saying that: “we applied for a license to import firearms and ammunition having gone through a strict vetting process and having met the conditions”.

Hence, a license was granted to GACH on the 28th of September 2018, the statement explained.

According to GACH Security, it placed its first order of hunting rifles legally and submitted an application to the Gambian Customs for clearance.

“Throughout this process we were transparent and no aspect of the importation process was shrouded in secrecy.

“If we had any sinister motives we would not have opted to use the Banjul Port, knowing fully well of the high-tech scanning machines and effective inspection measures put in place by the Gambia Customs,” the statement said.

Insiders said the confusion was caused when free samples which included blank pistols for sports and recreational purposes and used by farmers to scare animals from their crops were included in the shipment in the event of future orders.

“These pistols which can be googled are safe and can cause no harm. – The other category of weapons are hunting guns which use the regular hunting bullets with scatter pellets as opposed to a single brass or metal bullets” it added.

Notwithstanding, sources told ADV that the Gambian police was still pursuing the investigations with the view to allay fears among the population.

It can be recalled that the port of Banjul like many others in West Africa had had an antecedent with arms smuggling which provides the grounds for apprehension among the public.

© Bur-csa – N.W / From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV) – Follow us on Twitter : @ADVinfo_eng