He is the first non-politician to be arrested and detained in the New Gambia for sharing his views on The Gambia’s national security.
Dr Ismaila Ceesay was arrested on Wednesday, January 31st after telling The Voice Newspaper that the presence of ECOMIG soldiers in The Gambia will not prevent long-term security risk if President Adama Barrow does not win the trust of the Gambia Armed Forces.
He was released the next day, but many took to social media to condemn his arbitrary arrest and detention at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
One of The Gambia’s most recognised US-based academics, Professor Abdoulaye Saine said Dr Ceesay should be applauded, and tapped for a senior security advisory position in State House, rather than arrested for raising a national security dilemma that is apparent.
The opposition party, Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) wrote in a press release: “President Barrow must not destroy the only achievement he made since he came to power a year ago. Just a few weeks ago his Information Minister told BBC in an interview that the greatest achievement made by the Barrow government is freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
“Again, we will never allow anyone to take us back to dictatorship. We have suffered enough for the past 22 years and enough is enough.”
But who is Dr Ismaila Ceesay?
He was born in Brikama but spent part of his childhood and teen years in Sierra Leone before moving to Sweden to join her sister.
Dr Ceesay is from a very influential family. His late father, who was popularly known as Ceesay Forest, was a household name in the administrative capital of West Coast Region.
He began his university education in Sweden, where he was very popular among Gambian migrants and was once elected to serve as the chairman of the Gambian Organisation in Stockholm (OGIS), which is responsible for organising the annual Gambian Cultural Week.
After bagging a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, Dr Ceesay moved to Scotland for his Master’s Degree in African Studies at the University of Edinburg.
Unlike many young Gambians in the Diaspora, he decided to return home to help reverse The Gambia’s brain drain. In 2010, he bagged a job with the University of The Gambia as a Political Science and African Politics lecturer.
While at the UTG, he was also busy pursuing a PhD in African Studies and was always travelling between The Gambia and Scotland.
Dr Ceesay speaks multiple languages including Swedish, Krio, Wollof and Mandinka. He holds a citizenship in Sweden, which he officially obtained in the late 1990s.
Does Dr Ceesay have political ambitions?
Yes, he might consider throwing his hat in the political ring. Dr Ceesay is not impressed with Adama Barrow’s one-year-old presidency. Shortly after his release from police detention, he wrote on Twitter: “The fight to consolidate our democracy has begun. We won’t be u-turned into dictatorship.”