Did The Gambia's new president work as a security guard at Tesco in Sheffield?

Did The Gambia's new president work at a Tesco store in Sheffield?

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 24th January 2017, 12:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th January 2017, 12:07 pm
The Gambia president Adama Barrow (AP Photo)

A former customer at the long-defunct Tesco Metro branch in Woodseats, is convinced Adama Barrow is the security guard with whom he shared lengthy discussions about African politics.

What initially sounds like a spurious claim becomes more plausible when you consider the remarkable rise to power of the west African nation's new leader.

It has been widely reported that the property developer, who had never held public office before his shock election victory last year ended Yahya Jammeh's 22 years as premier, worked as a security guard at an Argos store in north London during the early 2000s.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ian Whitaker believes Mr Barrow must also have spent a short time guarding the Tesco store in Chesterfield Road around eight years ago.

Although he cannot remember the guard's name, Mr Whitaker says his appearance and in-depth knowledge of Gambian politics mean he is almost certainly the same man now tasked with running the country known as the 'smiling coast of West Africa'.

"I'm 100 per cent certain the new president is the former security guard I used to talk to every day and who once invited me to Gambia," said Mr Whitaker.

"He'd come over to Sheffield from Manchester and he was the man who taught me all about Gambia.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw he'd been elected as the new president. It's amazing."

The Star contacted Tesco, which said it hadn't employed Mr Barrow directly but that he may have worked for the retailer's security contractor Cordant.

Cordant said it could neither confirm nor deny whether it had employed him, as this would breach the Data Protection Act.

The Star has contacted the Gambian embassy but is yet to hear back and given the ongoing political strife in the country Mr Barrow and his team understandably have more pressing concerns.

The old Tesco Metro store is now home to The Original Factory Shop.

Mr Barrow was elected president at the beginning of December but his predecessor, who reportedly ruled with an iron rod, initially refused to recognise the result, before flying into exile over the weekend. Mr Barrow has been living in neighbouring Senegal as he prepares to assume power.