By Talibeh Hydara
A notorious Gambian migrant-turned-militia has been accused of kidnapping his fellow Gambians and other African migrants and extorting money from them.
The militia, one Sankung Janneh from Kanifing Estate, is believed to be working with several brutal Libyan militia groups in Ben Walid, a town 200 kilometres from the capital Tripoli.
Janneh is allegedly jointly operating three prisons in Ben Walid where kidnapped compatriots undergo torture and some even die.
Speaking to The Standard from Tripoli, Edrisa Sarjo, the secretary general of the Gambia Association in Tripoli, said dozens of Gambian migrants have already died in those prisons with many more still kept there.
“Just yesterday [5th May], a Gambian migrant died in his prison. The last six months alone, 32 Gambians have died in that bloody prison because of hunger and torture.
“We cannot do anything about him unless we get an arrest warrant from the Gambian authorities but so far that has not happened. And he is well protected by the Libyan militias,” Sarjo said.
He added that Sankung’s family back in The Gambia has often received complaints about their son’s nefarious activities in Libya.
Last year, Sankung’s brother was arraigned for allegedly working with him by unlawfully collecting money from relatives of Gambians in Libya as payment to secure their release from captivity by Sankung and his militia group.
He was accused of receiving at least two million dalasis from people for the purpose of sending the money to Sankung in Libya to secure the release of their relatives held captive.
Lamin Manneh [name changed], a victim of Sankung who has just been released from the prison, narrated his story to The Standard.
“People keep dying in the prisons operated by this Gambian and they don’t bury anyone. They just secretly deposit the body behind the police station at night so that the police could discover it in the morning. In fact, more than thirty people have already paid their monies but they are dead. Some families paid money not knowing that those they are paying money for have already died,” he said.
Edrisa, who has been a key figure in the return of migrants from Libya, called on the government to issue an arrest warrant for Sankung. If not, he warned, many Gambians will continue to die in his hands and many families will lose their monies.
The Standard could not reach Sankung Janneh for immediate comment on the allegations leveled against him.