By Mustapha Jallow
The detention without trial and disappearance without trace of Gambians have become a nightmare and common experience to families whose loved ones fell prey to injustice, human rights violation and impunity in the Gambia.
In this publication, we are featuring the list of detained and disappeared Gambians whose whereabouts has of become a mystery to their families who are traumatized and disturbed as a result their missing husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, mother and sons.
Former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Mambury Njie, who was acquitted and discharged by the Banjul High Court on Thursday, 3 July 2014, was re-arrested at his residence in Brusubi on Thursday, 9 October 2014 and detained by the state security agents. According to our source, Mr. Njie is still detained by the NIA without granting him bail or court appearance.
It could be recalled that Mr. Njie was earlier arrested and detained at the Brusubi Police Station on 25 February 2014 and later granted bail by the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on economic crime and neglect of official duty charges.
Mr. Njie was eventually acquitted and discharged on the two counts of economic crime and neglect of official duty by Justice Mikailu Abdulahi of the special criminal division of the high court in Banjul on 3 July 2014.
The family of the former Finance Minister said they have been given access to him, but he has now spent 10 days in detention. They have however called for his unconditional release.
56 days in detention as at today: Mr Seedy Jaiteh, former Human Resources Director of Gamcel, has been arrested and detained for 56 days without bail or court appearance.
According to family sources, men in plain clothes believed to be state security agents, took him away from his residence in Manjai Kunda on 27 August, 2014, at about mid-night to an unknown destination. The men in plain clothes took Mr. Jaiteh away in a black tinted glass vehicle without registration number, a family source indicated.
On Thursday, 28 August 2014, family members visited the NIA, the Police and NDEA but were told that Mr. Jaiteh was not in custody in any of the three places.
According to the source, he was eventually traced at the NIA headquarters in Banjul and that the family was initially allowed to be taking food to him but this was stopped on 2 September 2014.
The source has indicated that the family has got information that their loved one is being held at Mile II prison, but that they could not have access to him.
The fifty two year old man is said to have two wives and a child.
61 days in detention as at today: Mr. Bakary Nyassi, the Managing Director of the Gambia International Airline (GIA), has been detained at the Brusubi Police Station for 61 days now without bail or court appearance.
Mr. Nyassi was arrested on 19 August, 2014, and detained at the Brusubi Police Station at a time when he was on the verge of going for studies abroad.
They told this medium that Mr. Nyassi is still detained at the same police station and that they do not know the reason (s) of his arrest and detention. It is said that the family still has access to him.
“We had expected him to be released during the feast of Eid-Ul-Adha to rejoin his family but this did not happen. We are therefore appealing to the state authorities to intervene and facilitate his release,” said a relative.
139 days in detention as at today: Mr Thomas Jarju, Commissioner of Prisons, a resident of New Yundum, who left home for work at Mile II prisons in Banjul was reported missing since on June 4th 2014. Family sources have indicated that he has not been seen since then.
According to sources, Mr. Jarju’s whereabouts are still not known by his family as they have not had any information about him since he disappeared without trace.
He is said to be the sole bread winner of the family and has many children, the youngest, a 2 months old baby boy at the time of his disappearance.
161 days in detention as at today: The erstwhile Commander of the State Guards in Kanilai who was also the manager of the Kanilai Family Farms (KFF), Lieutenant Colonel Solo Bojang, is still under detention for 161 after being acquitted and discharged by the Brikama Magistrates’ Court on 12 May 2014. Immediately after his release, he was seen being escorted out of the courtroom by men in plain clothes and whisked away to an unknown destination.
Lt. Col. Bojang was tried for four counts i.e. Abuse of office, False information, Conspiracy and Theft and was acquitted in all, but convicted on the false information charge and fined D50, 000, a fine that was paid, according to the family.
According to a source close to the family, Lt. Col. Bojang is detained at the NIA detention center in Tanji, Kombo South.
The family is appealing to the state to help in securing the release of their loved one as they are really going through very difficult times.
705 days inn detention as at today: Mr. Momodou Sowe, former Protocol Officer at the State House in Banjul, a native of New Yundum village in the West Coast Region, was arrested and detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) since 3 December, 2012.
According to the family, when Mr. Sowe set out for work at the state house in Banjul on that fateful day, he never returned.
Mr. Sowe was first arrested on 20 November 2012 by state security agents and briefly detained at the NIA before being transferred to Mile II prison.
The family has indicated that he is being held at the maximum security wing of Mile II prisons.
The wife of Mr. Sowe, who has been running up and down and knocking at doors to secure the release of her husband, has described his long detention as traumatizing to the family as he was their sole breadwinner.
The wife has even filed a case at the high court against the state to produce her husband MomodouSowe, but the matter is said to have been referred to the AG Chambers.
Disappeared for more than eight years now: Former State House Senior Reporter and Crime Watch Columnist of the Daily Observer, Chief Ebrima Manneh, was picked up by security agents at his workplace in Bakau on 26 July 2006. Since then he has not been seen by his family. The incident occurred immediately after the African Union Summit hosted by The Gambia.
The father of Chief Manneh, who appeared desperate, said he has visited all the known security detention centers around the country without any trace of his son and has also approached personalities such as the former NIA Director, Mr Harry Sambou, former IGP, Mr. Ousman Sonko, Imam Fatty and the Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy to help in the efforts to trace Chief Manneh, but to no avail.
Disappeared for 500 days. Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, two Gambian cum US citizens went missing on 22 June 2013 in Brusubi while on holidays in the Gambia.
The Government of the United States of America (USA), through its Embassy in Banjul, has expressed its serious concern over the detention of her citizens in the Gambia. The White House is calling on their counterpart, the Gambia government, to help in facilitating the release of the two US citizens.
Disappeared for more than eight years: Mr. Lamin Kanyi (alias Kanyiba Kanyi), a native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East of the West Coast Region (WCR) and a former employee of Christian Children Fund, now (Child Fund The Gambia), was abducted on 18th September 2006 by men in plain clothes.
Family sources revealed that Mr. Kanyiba was abducted around 9:00pm. They said three men approached him and demanded to talk to him outside, and to which Kanyiba accepted but asked that they identify themselves and their mission. It was said that the men refused to do so and insisted that he should go with them. “The 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 and 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.
A family source told this reporter that they have been hurt by the abduction and disappearance of their loved one since 2006. It was also revealed that at the time of Kanyiba’s forced disappearance, his wife was pregnant and later delivered a baby girl who is now 8 years old.
The family said it is pleading with the head of state and his government to aid them in locating and securing the release of their loved one.
It was also reported that his father died shortly after a visit to Kanilai to have an audience with the president, but which he was denied access.
Mr. Lamin Tunkara, a native of Kinteh-Kunda Marong Kunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), was reportedly arrested on 21st July, 2005, by a group of CID, NIA agents and plain clothes officers behind Albert Market in Banjul. The family said his house in Tallinding was ransacked by the said security agents who confiscated foreign denominations – CFA, US Dollars, Euros and Dalasi. The family also said that Mr. Tunkara 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.” He was last seen at Kairaba Police Station and up till now family members have no clue of where he is being held.
Mrs. Masireh Jammeh, a former employee at the state house also a native of Kanilai, is reported missing since July, 15th 2005. The family said up to date, they did not hear from her.
Three close friends, Alhagie Mamodou Lamin Nyassi, ex-Chief of FoniKansala District, Ndongo Mboob and Alhagie Buba Sanyang, all natives of Bwiam village in the West Coast Region, also went missing and never returned home since their arrest by men in plain clothes in a blue numberless tinted glass vehicle in 2006.
According to sources, the former chief of Foni Kansala was arrested by plain clothes agents on Tuesday evening, 4th April, 2006, whilst conveying his friend, Ndongo Mboob, who visited his house. The relatives of the disappeared persons told this reporter that they are desperate to see their loved ones.
According to them, they have visited all security detention centres in the Gambia, including Mile II Central prisons, Janjangbureh prison, NIA detention centre in Banjul and the Police headquarters, but that all their efforts proved futile.
Alhagie Buba Sanyang (alias Bubai), was also picked up from his house on the same day by 3 men in plain clothes who informed him that he was wanted. The family said Bubai had just finished performing ‘maghrib’ prayer when the men came for him. They said Bubai at that juncture handed over his mobile phones to his wife, and then the men whisked him away. The family said since then they have not seen or heard from him.
Jisarja Kujabi, of Dobong village, in the Foni Kansala District, went missing since Wednesday, 27th of July, 2005, after his house was ransacked by 3 NIA agents in a numberless Nissan 4 wheel vehicle with tinted glasses. Family sources told this reporter that they have not seen or heard from him since his disappearance in 2005. Sources revealed that Mr. Kujabi was whisked away from his farm while working. Then they took him to his house to change his farm clothes from where he was taken away to an unknown location.
The same source revealed that Haruna Jammeh, also went missing the same evening, as he the boarded the same vehicle that came to arrest Jisarja.