By Baba Sillah
On Tuesday 4 April 2006, the Office of the President instructed the Inspector General of Police to issue a press release stating that former NIA director general Daba Marena and four other detained military officers escaped while en-route to Janjangbureh Prisons.
The arrest of the men followed the thwarting of a coup in March which was masterminded by former army chief of staff Colonel Ndure Cham who immediately fled the country. At least 19 suspected plotters were arrested and ten were sentenced from 10 years in jail to life imprisonment by a military court.
The statement from the IGP said five of them: Daba Marena, Lt Ebou Lowe, Lt Alieu Ceesay, Warrant Officer Alpha Bah and Staff Sgt Manlafi Corr, escaped from custody while being transported to an island prison 200km from Banjul.
Nothing was heard of them since, prompting fears from human rights and opposition activists that they may have been executed.
Following the ouster of President Jammeh in December 2016, the new government issued an executive directive in March 2017 to probe the “mysterious deaths” of Gambians during the Jammeh era. Consequently, some members of Jammeh’s death squad officially called The Patrol Team or the Junglers, were arrested and interrogated.
During the interrogations, Lt Malick Jatta from Tuejereng, a trained commando and member of the hit squad, revealed to the investigators that contrary to the government’s statement, Marena and others were in fact taken to a garden in Foni, shot and dumped into a well.
According to documents The Standard is privy to, Lt Jatta stated that on the fateful day, Marena, Lowe, Bah, Corr and Ceesay together with Masireh Jammeh and a lady identified as “Julia” were brought by Lt Yusupha Sanneh, Sgt Sainey Jammeh, Lt Saihou Jallow and Cpl Omar Jallow and handed over to the Junglers including himself Ismaila Jammeh, Michael Correa, Sanna Manjang, Alieu Jeng and others.
He said the five men and the woman were taken to a garden with a well. He said while he and Alieu Jeng stood aside, the orderlies who accompanied Daba and the others were led by Jungler Sanna Manjang in shooting the apprehended people. He continued: “Tumbul Tamba and Bora Colley were all present and they gave directives. During the process, Alieu Ceesay attempted to escape but was gun shot [sic] by Omar Jallow. One Julia, a lady, was killed by Sainey Jammeh and during their killing; they were all shot and thrown into the well.”
30th December attackers
In a related macabre testimony, another Jungler has revealed that the bodies of 30th December 2014 State House attackers, Lamin Sanneh and two others were removed from the EFSTH mortuary by a team of Junglers led by Major Nuha Badjie and transported to a range in Foni where one Major Landing Tamba had dug a hole and the bodies were dumped together and interred.
The Gambia Government had invited local and foreign forensic experts to locate and identify bodies buried in disparate locations mainly in the bushes in the Fonis. Details of their findings have not been publicly revealed.