Former Gambian soldier and driver, Bai Lowe, had an interview with Pa Nderry M’bai of Freedom Newspaper Radio in which he explained how the 50 odd Ghanaians and nationals of other West African states were killed in The Gambia in 2005. Below are excerpts as translated by Human Rights Watch.
Right, we are still in 2000, 2004. In 2004 we heard that up to 90 Ghanaian nationals, and 20 other African nationals, South Africans, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans ….
Bai Lowe: Pa that happened in 2005.
Yes, 2005, thank you for correcting me. This happened in 2005, July 22nd, 2005. What can you tell us about this incident, what happened?
Yes what happened, in 2005, eve of 22nd July, yes I think that is when it was, either 22nd July or I think on the 23rd was when we got information that there were captured mercenaries in Barra who were coming to attack The Gambia. So, they were brought to the [military] camp. Sorry Pa. we caught them, and we took them to the NIA (National Intelligence Authority) office. From the NIA headquarters, they were scattered, generally we separated them and some taken to the house, Kotu.
Kotu at Yahya Jammeh’s compound, Baba Jobe’s compound?
Yes, Baba Jobe’s compound in Kotu. We separated them.
So, what happened Bai?
So then they came to pick them up, and we took them to Kanilai. Tumbul [Tamba, head of the Junglers] said let the guys [Sanna Manjang and Jatta] say, ‘We are going to kill you for the interest of our nation.’ He said once the guys say that then they, the Junglers, are not responsible for anything,
So Tumbul said for them to say “we are going to kill you in the interest of the nation”?
Yes he said for them to say “we are going to kill you for the interest of our nation” if they, the Junglers, say that then you know they are not responsible for the deaths, but Gambia as a nation will be responsible.
Which boys are you referring to, who did he say that to?
Them Manjang and Malick. They have an old well in the bush, you know the old Fula wells in the bush, where they fetch water for their cows. Two guys will just bring you to the well execute you and throw you in the well, paww! paww!. That is where I saw them use a pistol to kill people
So these people, where did they kill them? Which area did they kill them in?
You know Yunoor? In front of Kanilai there is a [place] called Yunoor. That is where the well is. That is where they take them, they took them all to Kanilai, then two by two the car take them to Yunoor.
So is [Yunoor] inside of Gambia or Senegal?
[It is in Senegal, Yunoor is in Senegal, but the well is in between Gambia and Senegal. I can basically say it is in Senegal.
Okay, thank you for making that clear Bai Lowe. I did say it on this radio before, that when Yahya Jammeh killed the Ghanaians, he took them and threw them in a well around Senegal, Yunoor, right by the border.
Yes, they bring them at the door of the well just shoot them there and throw them in the well.
So they shoot them, then throw them in the well?
Yes, they hold you and shoot you, while they already had a plastic bag over your head, the one dalasi black plastic bags, shoot you and throw you in the well.
How many people did they kill there in Yunoor?
That day, They killed up to 40 people.
So, they were all Ghanaians?
I don’t know their nationalities but I know there were some Ghanaians. I was not going around asking their nationalities because if I talk to them, they would think I wanted to betray them, the Junglers.
What do you mean by that?
You know my responsibility was only to drive. I don’t have access to talk to them. I just drive and park. There are individuals they kill whom I don’t even know.
So, it seems as they killed 40 people and buried them in that well in Casamance?
In that particular night, but there were some who escaped but I don’t know how they escaped.
Did you guys try to search for those escapees?
Yes, one escaped, he was caught near Kankurang and Bambara. There are villages near Kanilai called Kankurang and Bambara that is where he was caught. When he was caught, Manjang went there and cut him into pieces like a Tobaski ram and put him into a sack.
What did he use to dismember his body, did he use an axe, a cutlass or what?
He has a small cutlass that belongs to him.
So, he used the cutlass to cut him into pieces?
Yes, he cut him into pieces. He even brags about that, that nobody has done what he did for The Gambia because he has cut more people into pieces than any soldier in the Gambian Army. He said he has more guts than the kids because the kids cannot do what he did. He has killed people, cut them up, bagged them and threw them in Santangba.
When he cut that person into pieces and bagged him, where did he throw him, in Santangba?
Santangba, Santangba a village after Bwiam was where he threw him.
Was it during that time that a dismembered corpse was found in a sack?
Yes, that was him.
Whom GRTS reported that he was found dead in the bush?
Yes, yes, but the guys did not know what dismembered his body and put him in a sac. But it was my guy.
Sanna Manjang did this. Before you came on the Radio Sanna Manjang was begging you not to come talk on the radio?
Yes, you know a lot of soldiers were telling me, up until yesterday, they were telling me not to do this. But I told them, no I cannot leave it because I have to clear my name and people should know what happened. Because if not today, tomorrow will come, that is what [Kalifa] Bajinka used to tell us all the time.
Right, so now it is established that there is a well between Gambia and Senegal where…the well is in Senegal, Casamance, that is where you buried these 40 detainees in the well. Now what happened in Brufut, because we have heard that there was one batch (of detainees) who were captured and killed in or around Brufut?
Yes, they were killed, but when they were, I think that was where the escapee came from Pa. I think they were killed and thrown there. They were killed there and wanted to throw them in the sea, but then they said no because by that time it was almost dawn, so the guys threw them there.
In the bush?
Yes, they were thrown there in the bush.
So, what did the government say when they saw those dead bodies near the sea, what did they say?
No! The government spoke to other people. We left, we have done our deed, we had nothing to do with anybody or anything.
So, is the Senegalese Government aware that these Ghanaians Yahya Jammeh killed were buried in Senegalese soil? Was the Senegalese aware of this?
I don’t know anything about that, I cannot say anything about that. That place is also close to Kanilai. It is very close to Kanilai Pa.
So when these killings were occurring, was Yahya Jammeh aware of them?
Pa, who has the courage to kill in The Gambia without Yahya Jammeh being aware of it ?