Army spokesman Lt. Col Omar Bojang

(JollofNews) – Authorities in the Gambia have rounded up a number of soldiers accused of engaging in mutinous, defamatory, scandalous and unethical acts against the government of President Adama Barrow.

The number of soldiers arrested and detained is not known but the military high command said they are part of a group using WhatsApp to post  audio recordings critical of the government.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Omar B Bojang said the content of the postings by soldiers described as ‘disgruntled elements’ are mutinous, defamatory, scandalous, unethical and against  the military code of conduct.

“As soldiers once we accept to serve in the armed forces we surrender certain privileges and rights. This is done to ensure that command and control is made easier. This is why upon enlistment, every soldier signs a declaration  as enshrined in the Gambia Armed Forces Act 1985, Part 1, Section 22,” Lt Colonel Bojang said.

“The soldiers make a solemn and sincere declaration that “I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the President of the Republic of the Gambia and obey his successor and the government of The Gambia. I will also obey all Orders, both written and verbal, given to me by my officers placed over me and subject myself to all Acts, Regulations and Standing Orders relating to the Gambia Armed Forces now in force or which may from time to time be brought into force for so long as I shall serve.”

He added: “Furthermore, it is also incumbent upon every serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces to sign the Official Secret Act, which barred every serving member/or upon retirement not to make any unauthorised disclosure in material published in a speech, lecture or radio or television broadcast, or in press or in book form.

“I am aware that I should not divulge any information gained by me as a result of my appointment to any unauthorised person, either orally or in writing, without the previous officials sanction in writing of my head of Department.

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“I understand also that I am liable to be prosecuted if I publish without officials sanction any information i may acquire in the course of my tenure of an official appointment (unless it has already officially been made public) or retain without official sanction any sketch plan, model, article, note or officials documents which are no longer needed for my officials duties and that these provisions apply not only during the period of my appointment but also my appointment has ceased or I have retired.”

The detained soldiers are yet to be charged but Lt Colonel Bojang said they helping with the investigation.

Although it is illegal under the constitution to detain an accused person beyond 72 hours without charge, authorities in the Gambia often use the Armed Forces Act which allows the indefinite detention of soldiers accused of criminality pending the outcome of an investigation.

Meanwhile, the Gambia Armed Forces has assured the general public that it remains focused, intact, vigilant and will continue to deliver the noble services to keep the country secured and peaceful.

“We will continue to bring about the needed reform and structuring programs that are required to make the Gambia Armed Forces more responsive to the needs and aspirations of Gambians especially in this new democratic dispensation,” Lt Colonel Bojang added.

“The Gambia Armed Forces will continue to embark on training programs, threat assessment and analysis both internally and externally to ensure a more robust and professional force that would be able to counter any threats both within or outside the Gambia.”