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Thursday, February 22, 2024

‘Jammeh sanctioned migrants’ killing’

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By Aisha Tamba

Former Interior Minister Babucarr Jatta has yesterday told the truth commission that the massacre of the West African migrants was sanctioned by former president Yahya Jammeh.

Appearing before the commission for the third time, Jatta said the state was responsible for the migrants’ killings and that the order came from Jammeh.

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Asked by the TRRC chair whether he was sure of what he said, the former CDS responded: “Yes, for sure”.

Jatta said under the circumstances the migrants were arrested and the manner they behaved themselves “eliminates every possibility to suggest that these people were anything other than migrants”.

“If the migrants were mercenaries they would have overcome the police in Barra considering their number. They could have overpowered the Police Station at Barra but they didn’t resist arrest or whatsoever. They would have also carried weapons to suggest that they were mercenaries,” he said.

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He said when the migrants arrived in Banjul, the NIA took full custody of them.

 “The moment they arrived in Banjul they were picked up by the NIA. That was the last day I saw them until when I heard that they were killed,” he said.

Jatta confirmed that Ousman Sonko was the IGP at the time and he was responsible for the investigations of the migrants’ killings.  He said despite being the Interior Minister at the time, Sonko refused to communicate to him about the progress they made in their investigations, saying, “Sonko was answerable to Yahya Jammeh”.

“I cannot control the IGP because he was only answerable to the president. Sometimes for three months, I will not see him. So if you take a man of Sonko’s calibre who doesn’t have any idea or whatsoever about policing to lead a whole police force, what do you expect?” he said.

However, Jatta admitted to lying in an interview with Omar Wally where he said the migrants were deported.

Asked whether he knew Sonko was a known killer and had participated in the killing of Almamo Manneh, Jatta replied: “Yes, the fact that it was done under his command and through him”.

He said when the investigation team from the UN and Ghana came, they were misled by the former IGP Ousman Sonko.

 Jatta admitted that the current Gambian army structure “should not have a rank of Lieutenant General”.

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