By Alagi Yorro Jallow
23 June 2000
The citizenship of Independent Editor-in-chief Baba Galleh Jallow and Managing Editor Alagi Yorro Jallow has been questioned by The Gambia’s Immigration Department.
Two plainclothes Immigration officers walked into The Independent offices on No. 1 Kairaba Avenue Tuesday morning and asked to see the two editors. As Alagi Yorro was not in at the time, Baba Galleh invited them into his office.
‘The two officers identified themselves and said Immigration director Sheriff Faburay sent them. They said they had been asked to check on our I.D. cards and passports,’ Mr. Jallow said.
Mr. Jallow explained that since he did not have his passport on him at the time, he showed them his I.D. card and asked them to come later to see his passport.
‘They asked if they could take my I.D. card with them, but I said no, they could only take a photocopy,’ Mr. Jallow explained. ‘I made a copy and gave it to them. I also asked them whether they wanted to deport us. At 2.00 PM, the officers came back for a copy of my passport and also Alagi Yorro’s documents.’
Mr. Jallow said it was absolutely ridiculous for anyone in his right senses to question his nationality. Born in Farafenni in the North Bank Division, Baba Galleh attended Farafenni primary and secondary schools before proceeding to Armitage High School, where he obtained his O’ levels in 1985. That same year, he won a place and a government scholarship to the Gambia High School Sixth Form Arts stream. At Gambia High, he was both Head Boy and President of the Islamic Cultural Club. Following the sale of the Observer in May 1999, Baba Galleh resigned from the Observer and teamed up with Alagi Yorro to found The Independent newspaper. Managing Editor Alagi Yorro Jallow was equally baffled at the news of the Immigration officers’ visit. ‘This is a joke,’ he said. ‘It’s even “Yabateh.” How can they question our nationality? Let them go and question my dad at Sankwia.’
Son of Alhagie Amadou Jallow, the Grand Marabout of Sankwia in the Lower River Division, Alagi Yorro attended Pakalinding Primary School. He later proceeded to Saint Augustine’s High School, where he obtained his A’levels in 1985. In 1998 he was elected vice-chairman of the Gambia Press Union, a position he currently holds.
‘I think if I’m deported, my brother who is serving the Gambia Police Force as a senior police officer serving with the U.N Peace Keeping Force in East Timor will also be deported,’ Alagi Yorro said. ‘The director of Immigration or the authorities I believe should first do their homework properly, they should have checked with the Health Department to determine whether we are citizens or not.’
A few days ago, reporter Alhagie Mbye was also threatened with deportation by an anonymous Immigration official.
According to reliable sources close to the Immigration department, a top official at the department of state for Local Government had called the director of Immigration and told him that both Baba and Alagi Yorro are not citizens of this country. This followed the publication of a story on last Monday’s edition of The Independent, which reported that the elected chief of Upper Baddibu district had been sacked and the APRC divisional chairman, appointed chief.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, Baba Galleh’s 80-year-old father, Momodou Jallow, called from Farafenni to say that Immigration officers there had just subjected him to a lengthy interrogation. As at the time of going to press, they still had the old man’s I.D. card.