By Lamin Jassey
As we continue to mourn the death of Major Khalifa Bajinka, former ADC to ex-President Jammeh, former State Guards and Camp Commander at Kanilai, we wish to highlight on what we know about the departed Officer. Not everyone will agreed with us, but our personal encounter with him, will clear a few doubts on him.
Bajinka, as he is fondly called, was enlisted into The Gambia National Gendarmerie in the early 1990s and attended trainings both locally and internationally. Following his graduation from Turkey, the Gendarmerie was already amalgamated with The Gambia Police Force and he and his peers were deployed into the Police and he was deployed to Banjul Police Station, whilst his colleagues were deployed to various Police Divisions across the country.
Shortly afterwards, came the change of Government in 1994 and most of the officers from the Gendarmerie returned to the army and Bajinka was one of them. He subsequently became the ADC to the new President, Yaya Jammeh. He rose through the ranks to Major! Undoubtedly he became a rising star, liked and admired by his peers, Superiors and subordinates alike. One thing about Major Bajinka was, he stood up for something even if it means standing alone. Because often times, he flies solo, he always has the strongest wings.
Major Bajinka has been associated with Jammeh’s killer machines for long, but during his life time, he had always kept silent despite numerous calls for him to speak out. He personally confided with me, when the time comes, he will definitely speak out. He was confident to stand alone. The courage to make tough decisions was his. The compassion to listen to the needs of others within the army was his trade mark. He does not set out to be a leader, but became one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.
Major Bajinka confided in that whilst he was serving directly under President Jammeh, he refused to carry out instructions from him. He did this discreetly to save lives of innocent people. He categorically told me that he blatantly refused to carry out orders to kill the following people as instructed by President Jammeh,
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe
Top UDP Executives
Lawyer Bory Touray
Baba Galleh Jallow
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Ndey Tapha Sosseh
This list was handed over to Bajinka by Jammeh himself at Kanilai during a retreat of Government officials. Bajinka was immediately redeployment as Commander from his post and Tumbul Tamba appointed to replace him. It was immediately that Tumbul Tamba carried out the cold blood execution of Deyda Hydara. Bajinka became a target of Jammeh and he was put under a tight surveillance ever since.
Bajinka was in a catch 22 situation and then followed the fire bombing of the Independent Newspaper printing machines in Kanifing. Some of the suspects got burnt and were allegedly taken to Bajinka’s residence in Mile 7 and later to Kanilai. It became apparent that Bajinka’s loyalty was been tested. He was isolated and dejected by his confidences in the army for fear been associated with him.
God in his infinite, helped him on recommendation by the CDS, he went to Nigeria to do his Senior Officer’s course. He told me in clears terms that President Jammeh wanted him death and that he was tired of seeing innocent lives been wasted for nothing. On his return from Nigeria and following the 2006 Ndure Cham’s attempted Coup, Bajinka was about to be arrested and dealt a final blow.
He finally escaped to the US, where is succumb to his ailment.
During the political impasse Bajinka continued to save the lives of many prominent Gambians. I received a call from him one day asking the number of Jaliba Kuyateh, when I asked him why he needed the number, he said “Yaya Jammeh wants him dead”. When I asked why “he said because of the new song he sang for Barrow”. He went further to tell me his boys within the security forces told him the information to alert Jaliba Kuyateh.
I later personally made my own enquiries about the attempt on Jaliba’s life and found it to be true. Bajinka managed to speak to Jaliba through a third party and advised him not to spend the night in his house that particular night as instructions were given to liquidate him. The mission to terminate Jaliba was aborted when it was discovered by Jammeh and his thugs that it was leaked. Bajinka, was the man behind leaking that operation from thousands of miles away from The Gambia.
Prior to his admission to the hospital for operation he text me to pray for him. I reply, I will pray for you and you will be alright. Few days later he rang me through a video call which he never done since I started talking to him. I could see him lying on his hospital bed. He tried talking to me but it was hard because he kept coughing after few words. He promised me that “if I recover from this sickness, I will tell you everything I know about the Jammeh regime for you to publish it”. I told him I will be glad to do that and further said to him it’s about time for you to speak up. He said “I will do just that after my operation”. Unfortunately, that was my last communication with him until his demise.
It’s because of this last conversation I had with the late Khalifa Bajinka, I felt obliged to tell the world what he wanted them to know through me. Though, he was unable to tell me all the stories but the ones he told me are enough evidence that he did saved lives.
Evidently, there are good reasons why Bajinka remain working for Jammeh at the time, notwithstanding, it would have been decent for him to take an early exit! Bajinka may have been complicit in many areas, but the truth be told, he also saved lives.
May his soul rest in peace.