By Talibeh Hydara
Lamin Fatty, the deputy production manager at Daily Observer at the time of journalist Ebrima Chief Manneh’s disappearance, had explained what he knew regarding the incident leading to his arrest.
Speaking exclusively to The Standard Mr Fatty, who is a programme officer at a child rights NGO explained: Dr Taal had an acrimonious spat with Chief shortly before the NIAs came for him.
“One day in July 2006, I was at home when I received a call to come and provide an extra [positive] plate because there was a story on the paper which was taken out. Few days after, I found Dr Saja Taal and Chief Manneh arguing in his office. Saja was even threatening to report Chief. I immediately intervened and told Saja to stop talking to his own employee like that. After all, the said story was never even published.
“Some day later, I was standing under the big tree near then Observer office building when I saw Chief being escorted by agents from the NIA. He had a file which he gave to the security guy who was supposed to hand it to one of the editors Ebrima Jaw Manneh. Fifteen minutes later, I saw him in a Nissan car with tinted glasses but the windows were lowered a little and I could see his head. The vehicle was heading towards Banjul. He even waved to us. I told the guy I was standing with that Chief would never return,” he said.
Asked if he had seen Chief after he was reportedly released that very night he was taken, Fatty answered in the negative, saying “he might have been released like I read it in the newspapers the other day but I didn’t see him.”
Fatty added that Manneh’s situation got bad because it was a colleague of his, Pa Malick Faye, who “dramatized” the BBC article that never made it to the press.
He continued: “Pa Malick made things worse because he told Saja that if he hadn’t intervened to stop the article from being published, Saja would have been in jail. He claimed he stopped the article from going to the press and Saja concluded that it was sabotage.”
Ebrima ‘Chief’ Manneh was picked up from the Daily Observer office on July 7 2006 and has since not been found. Many eyewitnesses say he was reported to the paper’s management by his jealous colleagues for allegedly trying to publish an international feature story from the BBC website critical of the Jammeh regime. He was then reportedly handed to the authorities who detained him at various locations before his disappearance.