Archive for the ‘Domestic News’ Category

DID PRESIDENT JAMMEH KILL DEYDA HYDARA?

September 19, 2015
COMANDING DICTATOR

COMANDING DICTATOR

THE LATE DEYDA HYDARA

THE LATE DEYDA HYDARA

A US based Human Rights Watch Report has unveiled damning and incriminating revelation on the murder of Deyda Hydara. Deyda Hydara, a Gambian journalist and an outspoken critic of the Jammeh administration, was 58 when he was gruesomely murdered on December 16, 2004. 

Since Jammeh came to power in 1994, state security forces and paramilitary groups such as the Jungulers have extra-judicially executed dozens of people. Many others were forcibly disappeared and are presumed dead. Most of those killed or “disappeared” were critics of the government, opposition activists or those suspected of supporting the overthrow of Jammeh’s government. No one has been brought to account for these abuses.

An emblematic case of the government’s disregard for the right to life is that of Deyda Hydara, an outspoken critic of the government, editor of The Point newspaper, and then-president of the Gambia Press Union. On December 16, 2004, alleged Jungulers fatally shot Hydara in his car as he was driving home with two colleagues. The killing happened on the eve of The Point’s 13thanniversary, and just days after Hydara vocally opposed legislation that imposed prison sentences for defamation and sedition, increased registration fees for media outlets by more than 300 percent, and required newspaper owners to put their homes as security for payment of fines and legal judgments.

A former Junguler who, as a driver took part in the operation in which Hydara was killed, told Human Rights Watch that Hydara was shot and killed by members of the Jungulers.

“My fellow Jungulers were given a list of 22 people and told to kill them. On the list were politicians, journalists; people who he [Jammeh] feels are a threat to him. Deyda Hydara was on that list. It happened at night on the Sankung Sillah road. When he came, we blocked Hydara’s vehicle in between the two taxis, and shot at him. Then one junguler went up close and shot him again”.

In June 2014, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice ruled against Gambia for failing to properly investigate the killing and ordered the government to pay damages to Hydara’s family. At time of writing, the government has yet to comply with the ruling and no one has been held accountable for Hydara’s killing. 

In July 2005, Junguler paramilitaries summarily executed over 50 migrants who had been detained after arrival in Gambia. According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, which went to Ghana in 2007 to investigate the incident, a group of 44 Ghanaians and 15 other African nationals were detained on a beach in Gambia after having been brought there by human traffickers who had promised to take the men to Europe. The men were detained on suspicion of intending to overthrow the Gambian government. They were held for several days without charge at the Naval Headquarters in Banjul, before being divided into groups and executed. A joint UN-ECOWAS fact-finding mission found in 2009 that the Gambian government was not to blame but that “rogue elements” in Gambia’s security services were responsible for the killings.

A former Junguler who took part in the operation in which the men were killed, told Human Rights Watch that he was ordered to drive the migrants in small groups to a field near Kanilai, the president’s village, where two Jungulers then shot the men in several groups. He said eight others were killed with machetes in Brufut, a few kilometres from Banjul:

“I was stationed in Kanilai when they came with them [the migrants] from Kombo, Banjul area. We took them from Kanilai, just two by two, and dropped them at the border; someone else would take them into the bush where two Jungulers were waiting. Then shortly after, we heard gunshots, so then we turned the car around and went back to get two more. Some of them were scared because they knew they were going to die. The Jungulers dumped the bodies in a big well at Yunor, an abandoned village on the Senegalese side of the border, not far from Kanilai”.

Only eight bodies were eventually found, six of whom were Ghanaian. The Gambian government agreed to arrest and prosecute those involved, and to make financial contributions to the families of the six Ghanaians killed, in addition to exhuming and repatriating the six bodies to their families in Ghana. While the Gambian government contributed to the funeral costs of the six, they have not paid compensation to the families. The Gambian government conducted no further investigations, and none of the alleged perpetrators, some of whom were named in the UN-ECOWAS report, have been prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the killings.

A former Junguler told Human Rights Watch that in July 2005, he saw Jungulers kill two men, Haruna Jammeh, relative of President Jammeh, and former NIA director Jasaja Kujabi, and one woman, Masireh Jammeh, also a relative of Jammeh and a former state house employee.

The government has been credibly implicated in more than a dozen extrajudicial executions of those implicated following coup attempts in 2006 and 2014. Most of the victims were current or former members of the security services.

In March 2006, after an attempted coup was thwarted, security forces detained 50 suspects, several of whom were held in prolonged detention at NIA headquarters. The whereabouts of five soldiers suspected of being involved in the coup plot remain unknown. The government maintains that they escaped while being transferred from Mile 2 prison to Janjanbureh prison, but the government has never investigated their disappearance.

A former member of the Jungulers told Human Rights Watch the five soldiers were tortured and that they believed they were killed by the Jungulers. While he was posted at Mile 2 security wing, his fellow Jungulers removed the five detainees and returned them to their cells the following day with visible signs showing that they had been tortured, including marks on their bodies from beating and problems with their eyes, reportedly due to a common torture method in which a polythene bag is tied tightly over the victim’s head:

The five were held at Mile 2 security wing, not NIA [headquarters]. And instead of taking them to court, they were just tortured seriously. And after that serious torture, they were taken to Kanilai and killed by the Jungulers. I did not see the bodies but I saw them take those people while they were still alive. They said they had escaped, but when they came back, my fellow Junguler told me they had killed all five of them – Manlafi Corr, Alieu Ceesay, Ebou Lowe, Alpha Bah and the former NIA director Daba Marenah.

The government reported that during the course of an attempted coup in December 2014, security forces killed four coup plotters. However, photographic evidence suggests that three of those killed (the fourth escaped to Germany) had actually been tortured and executed while in custody. Mobile phone images obtained by Human Rights Watch show three bodies, whom family members and former security personnel were able to identify as Lamin Sanneh, Njaga Jagne and Alhagie Nyass – three of the men named by Gambian authorities. Three images, taken at night, show the naked torsos of each man; two of these images show pools of blood on the ground behind their heads. Two other images each show a body with arms and ankles tied with rope. One image, taken in daylight, appears to show the three bodies in a row, not bound by rope. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and unlawful killings noted in his June 2015 report that, “if the photographs are authentic, they raise questions about circumstances that led to their deaths.”

In January, the United Nations Office of West Africa (UNOWA) offered to assist with an investigation into the events surrounding the December 2014 coup attempt, but the Gambian government did not accept the offer.

Courtesy of Freedom newspaper

BRITISH TOURISTS WARNED OVER ‘HORRIFIC’ HUMAN RIGHTS REGIME IN GAMBIA

September 18, 2015
Was Martin loyal to his oga?

THE GAMBIAN DICTATOR IN WHITE

By Colin Freeman

Torture chambers to be found just a short drive from sun-kissed beaches, human rights watchdog warns holiday Brits. British tourists heading for winter breaks this year in The Gambia have been warned of the country’s “horrific” human rights record, with state-run torture chambers operating just a short drive from their beach hotels. Britons are among the biggest customers of the tiny West African nation’s thriving tourist sector, but a new report by an international human rights watchdog paints a dark picture of life beyond the pristine white sands of its Atlantic coast.

While tourists enjoy reggae bars and wildlife reserves, Gambia’s 1.8m population live in fear of the country’s resident strongman, Yahya Jammeh, whose bizarre personality cult is a blend of witchcraft, oppression and anti-colonial rhetoric. The report, by Human Rights Watch, details widespread allegations of abuse by the “Jungulers”, a militia loyal to Mr Jammeh, who seized power in a coup 20 years ago.

The abuses include arbitrary arrest and detention of political opponents, and gruesomely inventive methods of torture. They include melting plastic bags on victims’ skins and inserting hot chilli peppers up their rectums. Some of the worst abuses, it says, take place at the National Intelligence Agency detention centres near the tourist beaches of Banjul, which typically attract more than 60,000 British tourists a year.

While Human Rights Watch said that a boycott of Gambia’s valuable tourist sector would simply hurt ordinary Gambians, it said British visitors should at least be aware of the country’s darker side. “We’re not asking for tourists to cancel their holidays,” said Corinne Dufka, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But they should write to MPs and raise their concerns about Gambia’s hidden abuses – the atrocities that Gambia doesn’t want visitors to see.” Britain and the EU, she added, should consider “travel bans and targeted sanctions for the president and others implicated in serious abuses” if the Gambian government did not “seriously address the dismal human rights climate”.

Mr Jammeh, a self-declared spiritual healer, has courted international controversy ever since 2007, when he claimed to have invented his own herbal cure for HIV, which required that patients give up conventional retroviral treatments. He paints critics of his regime as neo-colonialists, and in the last two years, has withdrawn Gambia from the Commonwealth and scrapped English as an official language. He has also lashed out at Britain, saying it did nothing for Gambia in 300 years of colonialism, except “to tell us how to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep and God Save the Queen”.

The report also sheds new light one of the most bizarre episodes of the Jammeh era, when more than 1,000 villagers were rounded up on suspicion of witchcraft and force-fed hallucinogenic plants after the president’s aunt fell ill.

A former “Junguler”, who is now on the run from the regime himself, told the report that groups of Jungulers and government-hired marabouts (sorcerers) then systematically raped the female detainees during subsequent “witch trials”. In scenes reminiscent of Britain during the time of Matthew Hopkins, the 17th century “Witchfinder General”, the villagers were also tortured in an attempt to force confessions.

“We went to two or three villages a day,” the Junguler said. “The military and police surrounded the perimeter of the village so no one could escape. Then the Jungulers go with the marabouts to pick out witches. If you are an old man or lady or a young person, any category, you could be chosen… I remember the room where the torture was happening, the tiles were white but it was full of blood because of the bad tortures. Some died afterwards. It was really terrible.”

The report added that even those who served Mr Jammeh’s regime often ended up in jail or on the run, as did many government ministers. Mr Jammeh has a tendency to fire any government minister after just a few months or even weeks in office, apparently in order to prevent factions forming that could plot against him. In January, he accused Britain and America of harbouring exiled opposition leaders who led a failed coup attempt.

Both countries have criticised Mr Jammeh’s regime in the past, but have so far stopped short of imposing sanctions for fear of pushing him beyond the point of dialogue. In June he abruptly expelled the EU’s top diplomat to Banjul, Agnes Guillard. He gave no reason for the decision, but it came six months after the EU blocked some £8m in aid to Gambia because of its poor human rights record, in particular anti-homosexual laws. Human Rights Watch said that Gambia had declined to comment on any of the allegations made in its report.

Courtesy of The Telegraphnews

AN OBITUARY ON THE LATE MR BAMBA NJIE

September 12, 2015
PROF SULAYMAN NYANG

PROF SULAYMAN NYANG

By Professor Sulayman S. Nyang
Howard University

Bamba Njie was born in the year 1928 and died on September 9, 2015. Born and raised in the city of Banjul, Bamba Njie belonged to a generation of Gambia who lived under British colonial rule. In order for us to offer our condolences and to remind his beloved darling Dianna and the surviving children who are now in mourning of a loving dad, it is necessary for us to review his life and times in The Gambia and the United States of America.

In writing this obituary several aspects of his life present them immediately. First of all, Bamba belong to that generation of Gambia who were old enough to remember the Second World War and had familiar stories and anecdotes about colonial rule in The Gambia. This special dimension of his life put him in the same generation of educated Gambians who travelled on the pathways towards modernization and Islamization in The Gambia and beyond. Since The Gambia was effectively colonized by 1900, the generation of Bamba Njie lived under British rule. Interestingly, he lived long enough to witness the transition from colonial rule and decolonization on February 18, 1965. It was his generation, who were old enough to rise up and cheer the Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and the likes of Pa Edward Small, Reverend J.C. Faye, Pierre Sarr Njie, Ibrahima Garba Jahumpa, and Kairaba Jawara during those critical moments in our history.

Bamba Njie was a contemporary of decolonizing youth and his biography is full of narratives about Gambian youths and the lessons from the Seringe Dara or the missionary teacher impacting Western knowledge to young Gambians. When Florence Mahoney wrote her dissertation and several publications on government and opinions in The Gambia she spoke about social changes and transformation. The biography of Bamba, like those narratives about Banjul and the Gambia captured in the telling of our individual and collective stories, is part and parcel of Gambian history.

When Arnold Hughe, for example, wrote about the Gambian leaders, his narratives written in collaboration with Norman Perfect, described certain personalities. Many of these individuals were contemporaries who knew Kortor Bamba Njie. To contextualize Mr Njie and his life and times in The Gambia, we must go back to the observations of historical writers such as Andrew Roberts who spoke about the colonial moment in Africa. Focusing on the period 1900 to 1940, the forces and factors that combine to shape and affect African lives come to mind. Bamba was caught in the coexistence of Islam and Westernization. Born in a Wolof-speaking community, he went to Quranic school (locally called Dara) and acquires a command of the English, which enabled him to gain access to the job market in the country. In Quranic school he learned from the scholarship of Tamsir Demba Mbye, who worked effectively with Imam Muhammad Lamin Bah and other elders of the Mosque Committee in Banjul.

As one of the small but growing numbers of Gambians with primary and secondary education he got jobs with the trading companies such as the United Africa Company (UAC) and later served in another capacity with Gambia Oil Marketing Board (GOMB). It was in these capacities when his life intersected with people like the Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, who had also worked with the UAC before joining the emerging People’s Progressive Party (PPP) headed by former President Jawara in the year 1959.

After serving with the GOMB whose name changed to The Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB) soon after independence, Mr Njie embarked on another journey to improve his life and circumstances in the U.S. These changes in his life were occasioned by the new ideas coming from the small but growing numbers of Gambians in the United States of America. The success story of Mr Ousman Sallah was beginning to ring a bell of welcome to Gambian ears. Sallah, who arrived in the country under the formative years of John F. Kennedy was a beneficiary of the assistance and generosity of Paul Paddock, a former American diplomat now better remembered by his book on China, Hungry Nations in the World, Ousman Sallah helped bring to the U.S. many family members and other Gambians. That demonstration effect from Sallah inspired me and several others who brought aspiring Africans. What the late Tom Mboya did for President Obama’s father and many others, Paul Paddock and Sallah did. Bamba too did similar things for his family and others. Prior to his decision to go to America before the end of the first decade of Gambian independence, Mr Njie had married the late Aji Ndeye Saine, who bore him the faithful and devoted Ba Sin Njie. This young lady known to many Gambians and others in America wears the uniform of her Islamic identity and tries to be the living human embodiment of her first name Basin (this is to say) the two alphabet in the al-Fatiha of the Quran.

When Mr Njie landed in the Washington area, he shared rooms with many Gambians living on 1724 17th. Street, NW, Washington D.C.  The first Gambians living in that apartment building were Cheyassin Secka, Babou Saho and Hassan Harding. Soon after Secka and Harding left the country and returned to The Gambia, the likes of Mr Njie shared quarters with Babou Saho, the three Sallah brothers (Tijan, Jabel and Mawdor), Bala Chune and several other young Gambians. During this period of residence at 17th, Street, many of the abled bodied Gambians offered their services to the contractors who were building what we now called the interstate highways linking the District of Columbia and the states of Virginia and Maryland. Whenever a comprehensive story of Senegambian immigrants in America is written the likes of Bamba Njie will be remembered in numerous capacities.

After working with many Gambians and other employees of the contracting companies in metropolitan Washington, Bamba relocated in Atlanta, forming a part of the new wave of Senegambian settlers in the hometown of Martin Luther King and Mayor Andrew Young. These were the new days for the African immigrants whose lives were destined to define and colour what most people now referred to as African immigrant Diaspora   in the land of former President Jimmy Carter. Not only do these Africans acknowledge this association with him, several other groups in Atlanta recognized and honoured him. While working with these partners in social mobilization and community building, he Bamba joined hands with the founding fathers and mothers of AGERA (Atlanta-Gambian Emergency Relief Association). Not only did he give time, money and energy to advise and guide younger and older Gambians, but also he exercised tact, experience and sagacity under sometimes trying and puzzling challenges. His passion for things Africa from his Gambian upbringing was evident in his cooperation with secular and religious organizations among the Gambians, Senegalese and other residents in Atlanta. Building on his past skills as a leader of men and women in the cooperative unions in The Gambia, the late Bamba joined those who served the Dariyyah (Sufi bodies) operating among the Muslims in Atlanta and beyond.

In reconstructing the life and times of Mr Bamba Njie, we must inform other Gambians and other human beings who knew him or did not know anything about, who he was and what were the contents of his character, as once formulated generally by the late Martin Luther King. Truth be told, Bamba was a gregarious person who knew how to make friend and influence people. Not only did he befriend Gambians and others, he worked his way to the management of the hotel industry in Atlanta. His relationship with the operators of the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta led to his secured and effective career as an employee of this Atlanta enterprise. Not only was he visible at his job, but he also served as a guide for the perplexed Gambians looking for employment. He was found willing and helpful. There are countless anecdotes to support these claims.

From Atlanta he once again relocated to New Orleans. This is the third chapter in his tales of three cities. This American Journey is filled with personal successes and tragedies. Like countless others, he and wife Diana suffered from the slings and arrows of Katrina when nature flooded the city and threw thousands to faraway places. Suffering from these blows, the family moved back to Atlanta. Fate and history in their mysterious ways kept him in his second American city until illness began to inch its way into his strength and powers. With its disabling powers, a stoke hit home and he learned to cope and survive. For several years, he limped and persevered with the support of wife and children. To the best of my knowledge, he left us with serious appreciation of his wife and children,

In concluding this obituary, a few points need to be left to fellow human beings about the man and his works: Kortor Bamba was our elder both in words and deeds; he was rich both in his command of our Senegambian traditions and cultures but also in his familiarity with modernizing ways as he educated his children in The Gambia and here in the United States of America; finally, it must be added here that Bamba Njie was one of the few Gambians who went through the ordeal of colonial rule without losing his pride and feelings of being useful and relevant wherever he was. Coming to America was a challenge, his wife and children will forever serve as his magnifying mirrors as well loud speakers reassuring world as to he was and what he accomplished in his lifetime.

Ameen.

POLICE CHARGED FORMER GAMBIAN PRESIDENT’S SON AND 4 OTHERS FOR CORRUPTION

September 10, 2015
THE WOLF IN SHEEP CLOTHING

THE WOLF IN SHEEP CLOTHING

IGP SONKO

IGP SONKO

The son of the former Gambian president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and four others were charged for corruption allegation, according to police on Wednesday.

The co-accused are Ebrima Jawara, Dr Alasan Bah, Sulayman Manneh, Lamin Fatajo and Momodou Lamin Mass both working at the Ministry of Agriculture are accused of allocating themselves a monthly fuel allowance of over 8 Million Gambian dalasi equivalent to 196,831.76 USD   for two months.

Their case has now been transferred to the High Court in Banjul after appearing previously before Magistrate Fatou Darboe of the Banjul Magistrates. On September 7 2015 they were arraigned before Magistrate Darboe on a ten-count charge including economic crime, stealing by clerk or servant, theft and abuse of office. After their plea in the box, the police prosecutor, Inspector A. Manga, applied for the matter to be transferred to the High Court on the grounds that the said magistrates’ court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, and urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody.

According to the presiding magistrate at the court, section 9 of the Economic Crime Act, ordered that the case should be transferred to the Office of the Chief Justice for re-assignment and the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.

GUINEA BISSAU TOP OFFICIALS IN BANJUL FOR PEACE NEGOTIATION

August 29, 2015
Dictator CALLING HIS CRONIES

Dictator CALLING HIS CRONIES

Top senior officials from Guinea Bissau government are currently in Banjul for peace negotiations talk that would ensure lasting solution in Guinea Bissau political turbulence, official informed Kibaaro News. The five-man delegation arrived in Banjul on Wednesday evening following an invitation from the Gambian leader. They are scheduled to meet the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to discuss the crisis in Guinea Bissau.

The Bissau crisis evolved after the falling apart of the President and his former prime minister, Domingos Simon Preira, who was sacked a few days ago. Political analysts said President Jammeh has excellent relations with President Mario Vaz, and can play an excellent role to reconcile the two parties.

Previously, President Jammeh used to mediate and reconcile authorities of Guinea Bissau whenever they had differences. Sources added that members of the Bissau opposition party, PAIGC, who had the row with their President, are expected to come to The Gambia next week to meet with President Jammeh.

GAMBIA ELECTORAL COMMISSION DEMARCATES FIVE NEW CONSTITUENCIES FOR 2016 POLL

August 29, 2015
IEC Chairman Mustapha Carayol

IEC Chairman Mustapha Carayol

DICTATOR JAMMEH

DICTATOR JAMMEH

The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission has created five more constituencies in the Greater Banjul region of Kanifing Municipal Council making the total number of constituencies totalling fifty-three for the entire nation.

“The IEC undertook this assignment of re-demarcation with a lot of cautious commitment,” said the IEC chairman, Alhagie Mustapha L. Carayol, during an opening of a two-day workshop on the electoral reforms and the re-demarcation of electoral boundaries held yesterday at the NANA conference hall.

“The areas re-demarcated are: Kombo North, Kombo Central, Serre Kunda East, and Serre Kunda Central”, Mustapha Carayol the chairman of the commission disclosed to his audience at the conference.

Kombo North with a voter population of 110,132 is divided into three constituencies namely, Sanneh Menterreng Constituency, Old Yundum Constituency and Busumbala Constituency.

Kombo Central with a voter population of 53,956 is divided into two constituencies, namely Brikama North Constituency and Brikama South Constituency.

Serre Kunda East with a voter population of 54,904 is divided into two constituencies namely, Tallinding Kunjang Constituency and Latrikunda Sabiji constituency.

Serre Kunda Central with a voter population of 42,510 is now divided into two constituencies namely, Serre Kunda Constituency and Bundungka Kunda Constituency.

The heartless Jammeh regime and its crunched cronies are hell bend to rape the 2016 election at all cost. Firstly, his unwitting members of the National Assembly introduced the undemocratic political bill aimed to exclude all potential opposite and barring political changes through the ballot. This latest move by the IEC is the final nail on the 2016 election casket to avert an amazing disgrace for Dictator Jammeh. Gambians must not let this political barriers planted by the Jammeh regime deter you from booting him and his cronies out of office in the 2016 poll.

EX-PRESIDENT JAWARA’S WIFE CONVICTED OF FRAUD IN UK

August 24, 2015

JollofNews) – Lady Njaimeh Jawara, wife of a former President of Gambia, has been convicted of Housing Benefit and Council Tax fraud after continuing to claim support while visiting Africa.

Lady Njaimeh Jawara claimed Housing Benefit and help with Council Tax from Mid Sussex District Council, and Pension Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions, on the basis that she was living in her housing association flat at Tower Close, East Grinstead.
However, the 65-year-old did not tell either authority when she went to Gambia for five periods of over 13 weeks between 2008 and 2013.
Claimants are required to notify the authorities if they will be away for any significant length of time because they are not usually entitled to benefits during prolonged absences.
The trips Lady Jawara made to Gambia resulted in her being overpaid £9,255 in Pension Credit, £8,848 in Housing Benefit, £1,192 in Council Tax Benefit and £484 in Council Tax Support.
On Friday 21 August 2015 at Worthing Magistrates Court Lady Njaimeh Jawara pleaded guilty to seven counts of failing to inform Mid Sussex District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions about changes in her circumstances.Gambia
Magistrates sentenced her to be electronically tagged for 20 weeks, not to leave her home between 7pm and 7am during this period, to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and to pay Mid Sussex District Council’s investigation and prosecution costs of £4,286.
Lady Jawara is also required to pay back all the overpaid Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Council Tax Support.
“The Council works with the Department for Work and Pensions on matters like this and takes firm action against the small minority of claimants who seek to cheat and be a drain on the wallets and purses of the law abiding residents of Mid Sussex,” said Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Delivery.