WHAT IS THE FATE OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS?

By Mustapha Jallow

The persons who were known to Foroyaa to be unlawfully detained without trial under the regime of former president Jammeh have all been released. But there is list of persons who have disappeared without trace during the era of ex-president Jammeh who are yet to be seen by their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, fathers and mothers? Family members keep asking questions about them and the grim faces that keep pouring into the offices of Foroyaa are no longer sure whether they are still alive.

They show appreciation and welcome the new leadership of Adama Barrow for taking a step in releasing people detained without trial and political prisoners. They say their loved ones who were abducted by men in dreadful black suits believed to be agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), have been missing for more than a decade now in some instances.

The situation has become a mystery to family members as they keep wondering and asking if their loved ones are alive or dead. Their absence has caused economic hardship to family members especially their young children.

Family members have severally knocked on the doors of ex-president Jammeh and its government to come to their aid and facilitate or send an investigating team on the whereabouts of their loved ones who were picked up by state security agents but all their requests, demands and hopes were thrown away. Below, we publish a list of disappeared persons.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS NOW:

Lieutenant EBOU LOWE, former soldier of the Gambia Armed Forces, has disappeared since 21 March, 2006. His whereabouts remains unknown to his family members.

“We have visited all the known detention centres in the country but none of the centres can tell us he is held in their custody,” said the brother.

Reports reveal that Lt. Lowe was among the military officers who were arrested in the wake of the 21 March, 2006 attempted coup to overthrow the APRC regime. It was later announced by the state owned television (GRTS) on 4 April, 2006 that Lt. Ebou Lowe had escaped with four other security officers while being transferred to Janjangbureh prison in the hinterland. Since then none of his family members has seen or heard from him.

CHIEF EBRIMA MANNEH, Former State House senior reporter and Crime Watch columnist of the Daily Observer Newspaper, has disappeared after his arrest by the state agents of ex-Jammeh’s regime. Up to date his whereabouts is also unknown to his family members, especially his poor old father.

Reports have indicated that Chief Manneh was picked up at his workplace in Bakau and taken to different detention centres in the country and that occurred immediately after the African Union (AU) Summit hosted by The Gambia on 7 July.

The aging father of journalist Manneh, has been making frantic efforts in search of his son since from inception. He said he first visited all the known security detention centres around the country without any trace of his son and had also approached personalities such as the then NIA Director General, Mr Harry Sambou; the then IGP, Mr. Ousman Sonko; the then State House Imam, Abdoulie Fatty and the former Vice President Madam Isatou Njie-Saidy to help trace Chief Manneh, but to no avail.

On 5 June, 2008 the ECOWAS Court entered judgment in favour of the missing journalist and ordered the Gambian government to release and compensate him an amount of 100,000 Dollars but still now nothing has been done.

The position of the Gambia Government as expressed by its agents has been inconsistent to say the least. The then Justice Minister Mrs. Marie Saine Firdaus stated in answer to a parliamentary question in 2009 that Chief Manneh had never been in state custody.

However, her successor Mr. Edward Gomez, told Daily News, that Chief Manneh was still alive but failed to give any supportive evidence about his claims. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Yankuba Sonko at the time also told a local newspaper that the missing journalist is residing in the United States of America, but he also failed to provide any evidence.

The Solicitor General, in 2008, told Amnesty International Researchers that the government believed Chief Manneh was abducted as it has been claimed amd nobody from the government had been involved.

  1. LAMIN KANYI (ALIAS KANYIBA), a native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East of the West Coast Region (WCR) and a former staff of the Christian Children Fund, (now Childfund, The Gambia) was abducted in the Gambia on 18 September, 2006 by men in plain clothes believed to be security agents, including a police officer in uniform in the presence of his family and since then the family couldn’t have access  to him or any clue as to where he is been held.

According to eyewitnesses, Lamin Kanyiba was abducted around 9:00pm by three men who demanded to see him in camera; that Kanyiba then asked them to identify themselves and their mission which they refused to disclose. “The said men in plain clothes then called a taxi driver who was some metres away from the scene. Within a twinkle of an eye, the taxi driver arrived, Kanyiba was forcefully pushed into the taxi and then whisked away in full view of his family, leaving the wife and family in tears,” said a family member.

His family members also filed a writ of “Habeas Corpus’ at the high court but he was not produced before the court neither was he released contrary to court order.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS NOW: Two Gambian US citizens,  ALHAGIE MAMUT CEESAY and EBOU JOBE were abducted by unknown men on Saturday, 22 June, 2013 in Brusubi while on holiday in The Gambia. Family members do not have any clue as to where they are kept.

The two were abducted from the same apartment at Brusubi on the same day. According to family sources, the duo came to The Gambia with the intention of investing in cashew export business.

Mr. Ceesay is said to have completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington (Seattle) and later worked for Chevron Texaco for 11 years as an Infrastructure systems analyst. He recently obtained his MBA in 2013. He is married and has two children.

As for Mr. Jobe, he is said to have graduated from the University of Washington and worked at Wal-Mart as an Operations Manager. He is also married and has three children.

A family source has indicated that the police have been informed and are fully aware of the disappearance of the duo but are yet to come up with any findings regarding their whereabouts.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 11 YEARS NOW

A native of Kinteh-Kunda, Marong Kunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), MR. LAMIN TUNKARA, was arrested on 21 July, 2005 by a combined team, comprising the CID (police), NIA agents and plain clothes officers, behind Albert Market in Banjul. Since then he has not been seen or heard of.

The family members earlier reported that Mr Tunkara’s house in Tallinding was ransacked by the said security agents who confiscated foreign denominations – CFA, US Dollars and Euros and Dalasi as well.

He was detained at the Police headquarters in Banjul for few days and later at the Kairaba Police Station. His family said while in detention, he was accused of being an agent facilitating the journey of nationals through the “back way” to Spain.

Since he was last seen at Kairaba Police Station up till now family members have no clue of his whereabouts.

DISAPPEARED FOR 10 YEARS:

Three close friends, ALHAGIE MOMODOU LAMIN NYASSI, ex-Chief of Foni Kansala District, NDONGO MBOOB and ALHAGIE BUBACARR SANYANG, District Coordinator of APRC in Foni Kansala, all natives of Bwiam in the West Coast Region, have gone missing and never returned home since they were arrested by men in plainclothes including a senior police officer in 2006.

According to sources, ex-chief Momodou Lamin Nyassi, Ndongo Mboob and Bubacarr Sanyang were first arrested in 2004 and briefly held at Janjangbureh Prison in CRR but were later released.

He added that the ex-chief was rearrested in 2005 by men in plain clothes and later arraigned at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court where he was convicted and fined D20, 000 which was immediately paid by his family members. He was then set free.

It was reported that ex-chief Nyassi and Mboob were re-arrested by men in plain clothes including a station officer (S/O) from Sibanor Police Station on Tuesday evening, 4 April, 2006 whilst conveying his friend, Ndongo Mboob.

     BUBACARR SANYANG (ALIAS BUBAI), a District Coordinator of 22nd July Movement in Foni Kansala, was also first arrested in 2004 while attending a community ‘Gamo’ (a muslim religious gathering for prayer, preaching and recitation of the Qur’an). “We were wondering as we did not see him for 3 days but he was later released,” said a family source.

In 2006, his second arrest came on the same day as with chief and Mboob by three NIA operatives who informed him that he was wanted by someone in higher authority at the state house. The family said Bubai had just finished performing the ‘Maghrib’ prayer when the men came for him. They said Bubai had handed over his mobile phones to one of his wives at that juncture, and then the men whisked him away, adding that up to date they don’t know his whereabouts, or have not seen or heard from him.

DISAPPEARED FOR NEARLY 11  YEARS NOW:

A native of Dobong village, in the Foni Kansala District, JASARJA KUJABI, has disappeared since Wednesday, 27 July, 2005 after his house was ransacked by men claiming to be NIA agents who came in a numberless Nissan jeep with tinted glasses.

According to a family source, they have visited well known detention centres in the country, but couldn’t trace him and they had also approached the top security chiefs but all their efforts went in vain.

Family members have told this medium that they have not seen or heard from him since his disappearance in 2005 and they are still wondering if their loved one is alive.

According to the family, Mr Kujabi was picked up from his farm and then taken to his house for him to change his clothes. His situation is still unknown to his entire family after 11 years now.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 11 YEARS NOW:

HARUNA JAMMEH of Kanilai was arrested together with Jasarja in the same evening. He was put on board the same vehicle with Jisarja and whisked away by state security agents. Since then these two are nowhere to be seen or heard of.

MRS. MASIREH JAMMEH, a former employee at the State House in Banjul and also a native of Kanilai, has been missing since 15 July, 2005. The family said since then they have not seen or heard from her and do not also know where she is being held.

OMAR HYDARA, who resides at Mamuda, Darsilami Sherifo-kunda, has gone missing since 2006 after he was arrested by men in plain clothes.

His family members couldn’t trace him, according to his brother Sheikh Hydara.

The brother revealed to this reporter that before Omar’s disappearance, he (Omar) visited them at Welligara as he used to celebrate every Tobaski with his family and that while on his way, he was abducted by security officers.

‘‘Immediately after his abduction, someone came and informed our family members that our loved one was seen being taken away. Since then we began searching for him but cannot locate him. We have been to the main detention centres in the country such as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, Janjanbureh prison, Mile Two prison and police headquarters on several occasions but all our efforts went in vain,’’ he said.