Gambia: ‘Yahya Jammeh Ordered the Killing of 50 West African Immigrants in 2005,’ Reveals Top Govt Official

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By Ebrima G. Sankareh, Editor-in-Chief

 Echo ArchivesIn the wake of renewed interest in the 2005 abduction and coldblooded murders of some 50 West African immigrants (mostly Ghanaians) in The Gambia, The Gambia Echo finds it compelling to reproduce verbatim, the entire story as reported in our 6th September 2006 edition.

The Gambia Echo was the first newspaper to break the story linking the macabre murders directly to Yaya Jammeh’s despotic rule as revealed by a senior military official at the time. Following a two-hour exhaustive telephone interview with the military officer who called from a neighboring country, our editor immediately contacted the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, DC to share the details of the damning allegations and potentially follow up with the Gambian authorities, but the embassy staff showed no interest in the story. After several attempts to talk to the Ghanaian ambassador failed, we then proceeded to publish what has now become an unimpeachable story against Yaya Jammeh’s criminal regime.

Below is the full, unedited story as reported by The Echo on September 6, 2006:

Ever since the littered remains of some Ghanaians immigrants were found in the Gambian coastal villages of Brufut and Ghana Town (named for its predominantly Ghanaian population) in late 2005, there has been a combustible combination of rumor and speculation that at one-time dented diplomatic relations between The Gambia and Ghana. The last time we checked, the Ghanaian authorities had sought explanation from Banjul but nothing of substance was forthcoming. As the recently concluded African Union Summit was about to take off, this paper reported of heavy military presence in Ghana Town leaving the village under virtual military siege.

Well, it has been one year since the gruesome discoveries of these mysterious dead bodies, but the simmering anger and frustration of the villagers seem to have been galvanized the more they think about the ferocity of the crimes. Today, we at The Gambia Echo are privileged with perhaps, the most withering indictment of the callous regime of President Yahya Jammeh linking him directly with the atrocities. Throughout the controversy, the whole world was told of only 9-12 dead Ghanaians who were later taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for identification and postmortem examinations. On the whole that was a tip of the iceberg. Lo and behold, there were other nationals although comparatively smaller.

According to a top government official who claims to be haunted by the killings on a daily basis and is determined to testify before any credible court of law, this is the true story of the Ghanaian immigrants.

“A group of 50 peoples; 46 Ghanaians, 2 Senegalese, 1 Ivorian and 1 Guinean were arrested in July 2005 by our immigration at the Senegalese border village of Amdalaye for illegally entering The Gambia. Incidentally, there was an intelligence report that an attack on The Gambia was imminent that seemed to have linked this wave of illegal immigrants to the tip off. These men were frantically transported to Barra, a coastal village on The Gambia’s North Dank Division (7sea miles off Banjul) where a team of The Gambia Navy picked them up and ferried they to the Naval Headquarters in Banjul.

Present at the Naval Hqs. Were Colonel Ndure Cham then Chief of Defense Staff, his deputy CDS Lang Tombong Tamba, Major Ousman Sonko Gambia’s Inspector General of Police, Mr. Gibriel Ngorr Secka of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Major Ousman Badjie then Commander of the Presidential Guards.

Soon after they docked at the Naval Headquarters in Banjul, a group of masked, well-armed men descended on the scene and began to tie them individually like animals. While on action, now Lieutenant Kawsu Camara (alias “Bombardier”- thanks to his clownish shows of lethality) inadvertently dropped his mask and was recognized. It was then apparent that the much-feared Bombardier and his State House men were in action and nothing less than ominous was to be expected. These so-called illegal immigrants were bound in ropes and electric cables and divided into two groups of 25 men each. One group was taken to Kombo Police Station and the other taken to a house in Kotu belonging to Baba Jobe (a UN indicted felon serving nine years at Gambia’s Mile II Prisons) but under the custody of President Jammeh. Subsequently, Bombardier and his masked men picked these immigrants from these locations in groups of eight and took them to a killing site in the farms of Siffoe village in The Gambia’s Western Division 50 km off Banjul. At Siffoe farms under the command of IGP Ousman Sonko, CDS Ndure Cham, Major Ousman Badjie of the State House Guards and Captain Tumbul Tamba, the “CHIAKAS” (lethal killers) used machetes, axes, knives, sticks and sharp objects to kill them individually. The bodies were indiscriminately dumped at various locations among them Brufut, a coastal village close to Siffoe. As if by divine intervention, two of the immigrants (Ghanaians) escaped before their hacking and fled to Brufut. Once it was noticed that they were Ghanaians, they were directed to meet the head villager of Ghana Town. At Ghana Town the duo narrated their harrowing tales of escape from the Siffoe killing fields. The village headman was so nervous that he could not accommodate the desperate men only few kilometers from Bombardier and his men. Conscious of the consequences, the village headman called the Police Intervention Unit (PIU). Within minutes, the PIU came, rearrested the duo in two pick up vehicles and headed to Kanifing in the suburbs of Serekunda where they were detained and questioned. While in detention at Kanifing, the men narrated to some officers their ordeal and how some of their colleagues were brutally murdered with machetes and pick axes. One day, one of them managed to escape and ran into New Jeshwang shouting for help. He was apprehended and together with the other Ghanaian taken to an unknown location and until now, nothing is heard of them.”

Source: The Gambia Echo Newspaper, archives 6th September 2006 edition (Raleigh, NC, USA)

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