by editor | April 19, 2016 8:19 pm
BY EBRIMA G. SANKAREH, Editor-in-Chief
Birmingham, UK—Almost a week after the eerily ominous arrests in the wake of peaceful demonstrations by youth leaders of the main opposition United Democratic Party of Banjul barrister, Ousainou Darboe, in which THREE reportedly died in custody, The Gambia headquartered, ACHPR- African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has tersely added its voice, albeit belatedly, for Africa’s continental human rights custodian. Like most organizations in the continent, it is beleaguered with manifest incompetence, gross and reprehensible bureaucratic razzle-dazzles with all its concomitant hopelessness. After much vitriol from the Senegalese media directed at the Commission last night; genuine criticism that largely resonates with the sentiments of many distraught citizens and keen observers of the carnage in Banjul, it has now spoken and predictably, its statement is couched in diplomatic parlance punctuated with ifs and buts. We have reproduced it, verbatim, as ‘breaking news’ and let us hope that they go beyond diplomatic innuendo and exert the requisite pressure on Jammeh’s government to bring all the culprits to book and once and for all bring about a more transparent system in this raging political conflagration.
Like ECOWAS—The Economic Community of West African States, now under the stewardship of Senegalese President Macky Sall, whose office overlooks Yaya Jammeh’s killing fields given Dakar’s proximity to Banjul (excuse my hyperbole) the ACHPR leaves a lot to be desired as far as the African peoples’ human rights go. Days after the United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Art. 19 and numerous others including the United States, condemned Yaya Jammeh’s heavy-handedness, ECOWAS still remains mute and here now comes the African Commission with its own version. Why are we as Africans always late? Why do outsiders have to always lead even in affairs unfolding in our own bedrooms? And why should we always wait for the Western governments and their human rights organizations to rescue our peoples from tyranny? Curiously, the tyrants are always our own brothers, fathers, uncles and sisters presiding over Africa’s nascent states, products of centuries of colonialism, pillage and plunder.
The ACHPR is headquartered in Banjul, but almost a week after Yaya Jammeh’s thugs unleashed hell on innocent and armless civilian demonstrators, we are now provided with a press statement with allusions to confidential meetings with a defensive Attorney General, Mama Fatima Singhateh, who together with Yaya Jammeh’s Vice President, Isatou Njie Saidy, are a tandem of catastrophe, scars on the collective consciousness of Gambians; a pair so drunken with power, that they can destroy The Gambia with their unbridled egos, powered by a mania to impress the tyrant of Kanilai regardless of the consequences on the Gambian people.
Take Isatou Njie Saidy for example— a woman, a mother, a housewife; one whose appointment in the Cabinet two decades ago (making her Gambia’s longest serving vice president since independence in 1965) was hailed by many Gambians, Jammeh critics inclusive, as probable panacea to Yaya Jammeh’s idiosyncratic idiocy; a hopeful antidote to the maniac’s propensity to violence but almost all who thought so, have come to regrettably concur, that Yaya Jammeh may in fact, be better than Isatou Njie Saidy. Like him or hate him, Jammeh does not hide his sadism; that he relishes killing his citizens like dogs and remorselessly gloats in burying them six feet deep is no secret; there is always that palpable malignant pleasure in Yaya Jammeh’s face after Gambians are murdered. Marches Isatou Kakatarr Njie Saidy—as enabler, chief fiddler and patron to Jammeh’s theatre of Gambian misery, Madam Kakatarr Saidy has presided over the darkest chapters of modern Gambian history— the massacre of over a dozen schoolchildren on April 10-11, 2001, the March 2006 chilling finality of NIA Chief, Daba Marena, Lieutenants: Alieu Ceesay and Ebou Lowe, Sergeants Alpha Bah and Manlafi Corr, the summary execution of a dozen (mostly political ) prisoners on August 12, 2012, and now, the unfolding disaster with reports of three torture deaths, tales of broken ribs and comatose peaceful demonstrators for fairer and transparent electoral reforms.
In characteristic Isatou Njie Saidy style, in disaster after disaster, she stands before the podium, nodding her head like a miserable duck and lies to her teeth, defending all these killings as sacrosanct with the security peculiarities of The Gambia; a nation that has never known violence before Yaya Jammeh and his gang of bandits seized power on July 22, 1994, promising Utopia. Before Jammeh’s coup, Gambians were not familiar with the cancerous political enigma of “National Security”, a highly oversexed phrase, abused, manipulated, misused and misapplied by Jammeh and his miscreants; a pretext for the systematic usurpation of our civil and political rights. Instead, ours was a nation anchored in the principles of the ‘Rule of Law”, “Due Process” and “Constitutionality” with recourse to an independent and inviolable judiciary where both the powerful and the powerless were listened to. While no system is perfect, what is evident is that prior to Jammeh’s lawlessness, both the administration of justice and the dispensation of justice in Banjul were almost nulli secundus in the African landscape.
Added to this, was a vibrant—free and independent press with a latitude of freedoms to investigate, report and editorialise without an overbearing National intelligence apparatus-NIA, acting as overseer general of the Gambian media. Yaya Jammeh, the congenital liar and army renegade who promised to fix corruption and bring Gambians greater democratic rights instead, murdered journalist Deyda Hydara and routinely mocks the murdered journalist’s family. He disappeared Daily Observer reporter, Chief Ebrima Manneh into oblivion and tortured many, many more journalists. For months now, a private radio presenter, ALAGIE CEESAY, has been in state custody over the same National Security trivia; largely a reflection of Jammeh’s own paranoia. As we went to press, there are conflicting media reports regarding Mr. Ceesay’s health following earlier reports that he too, may have died of routine torture at Gambia’s infamous Mile II State Central Prisons, the main human abattoir of Yaya Jammeh’s political enemies—real, perceived or potential.
Significantly, in a nation were paradoxes are now fashionable, and ironies a national treasure, Yaya Jammeh appointed or supported the candidature of Edward David Singhateh as Commissioner of ECOWAS, the moribund regional organization famous for its big speeches and less action about human rights, good governance and economic corporation in West Africa. When its Court decides cases against rights violators like The Gambia, Jammeh does not even blink. Instead, he mocks ECOWAS’ Court with biting hyperbole.
But, does ECOWAS really vet its candidate for high profile jobs like Commissioner given to Yaya Jammeh’s former Vice President in the AFPRC—Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, who is the most notorious murderer ever in Gambian history? In June 1995, Edward David Singhateh (the most notorious Butcher of Banjul as we always called him at The Gambia Echo) together with his younger brother, Peter Singhateh, Yankuba Cabinet Touray and Yaya Jammeh constitute “The Gambia’s Quadruplets of Evil”; an irredeemable gang of renegade soldiers that conspired and lured their cabinet colleague, Finance Minister, Ousman Koro Ceesay, to a hoax emergency meeting at Touray’s residence, only to hit him with a baseball bat, shot him multiple times in the head and in a classic overkill style, ferried his tragic remains in his ministerial Mercedes Benz and then set it ablaze in the woods of Farato village, 7 miles off the Banjul International Airport where hours earlier, Mr. Ceesay bade farewell to President Jammeh as he jetted to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend his first AU summit meeting.
Drunken with power and determined to impress Yaya Jammeh, the newly appointed ECOWAS Commissioner, went on a killing spree, shooting soldiers without the slightest provocations and in the city of Banjul and its vicinities, Edward Singhateh was most polite, always giving smart salutes and waving at unsuspecting civilians and before he was outed by the diaspora press, coupled with a catalogue of damning revelations from victims and defecting soldiers, Singhateh had a pool of blood to his credit. Like Jammeh, he too is evil personified and how he made it to this coveted diplomatic portfolio at ECOWAS speaks to the triviality of some of these African organizations.
Lest we forget, since Gambians tend to suffer from an amnesia of history, as Defence Minister in the AFPRC military junta that propelled the scoundrels to the pinnacle of political power, on November 11,1995, Edward David Singhateh with his brother Peter Singhateh, Captains Sadibou Haidara and Sana B Sabally, led a campaign of unprecedented terror in Gambian history and summarily executed soldiers accused of complicity to counter-coup. What Singhateh and his brother did, including burying soldiers alive and using machetes to cut legs of soldiers too tall to fit in the mass graves is frankly beyond the scope of this editorial but only a painful recapitulation for the history books to remember and for the younger generation to take stock of our painful struggle against tyranny.
With this dubious distinction as Murderer-in-Chief for Yaya Jammeh’s blood-letting cabal, Edward went on to serve in various capacities in the Jammeh regime until he was finally, disgraced with a humiliating dismissal in 2007. He quickly matriculated to the hotchpotch law faculty of Jammeh’s university and within six years, he has qualified as a Banjul barrister, served as Magistrate and now here we go—ECOWAS Commissioner! Boy, Gambia deyatale, wai dekabe kenhamoot. Sa andi-halanaam.
Ebrima G. Sankareh:Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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