A former soldier is demanding the return of his passport and other identity documents seized by Gambian immigration authorities.  

Omar Sarjo, 38, was dismissed from the Gambia army in 2017 over allegations that he was the son of the Cassamance separatist leader and therefore not a Gambian citizen. An investigation was launched into his Gambian citizenship.

He has however challenged the state allegations against him and said he is a Gambian and has never “returned” to the southern Senegalese province of Cassamance. 

His dismissal from the army, according to GAF, was not based on the allegations that he was the son of the separatist warlord Salif Sarjo. They are not blood related, the army confirmed.

The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) has since clarified that the embattled corporal was dismissed in 2017 on the grounds that he falsified his biographical and academic documents to meet the army entry eligibility.

 “I want to ask the government to please return my documents back to me. I am not a criminal. I have not committed any crime in this country that would warrant the seizure of my documents. 

“I urged the president to exercise his prerogative to help regain my documents. I have served this country honourably. I deserve better,” Omar Sarjo said.

Omar said his passport and other national documents were seized by the Immigration Department in 2018 when he attempted to change his expired passport.

“The Immigration department told me they received a correspondence from the army that I am not a Gambian. 

“So, for that reason they took my papers and charged me to court. But for three years the same court case is going in and out without an ending. I now need my documents. I am continuously being harassed for not moving with my documents,” he added.

He denied reports that the case has been withdrawn from the court and that he never committed a single crime in his lifetime.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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