By Lamin Cham
For the first time since his murder in December 2004, the question as to who killed the former Point editor, Deyda Hydara, has been answered.
He was shot by three members of President Yahya Jammeh’s patrol team. His killers were Sanna Manjang, Malick Jatta and Alieu Jeng.
Revealing this chilling account to the TRRC, Malick Jatta confessed shooting Deyda seconded by two other shots from his two colleagues.
They were part of a deadly convoy of taxis arranged by the late Tumbul Tamba in command of the operations which also included Kawsu Camara [Bombardier] and one Bai Lowe who has tagged an operational code for Deyda as the ‘Magic Pen’.
After the killing, said Jatta, Tumbul Tamba dished out heavily loaded envelopes containing US dollars to all members of the hit squad.
He said the money must have been equivalent to D50, 000.00.
Jatta is the first among several former patrol members accused of most atrocities under Jammeh facing the TRRC in the coming days.
But he made it clear he had left the team well over ten years before the change of government when he was arrested.
According to him, they were told by Tumbul Tamba that they have been recruited into the patrol team whose mission was to stop a supposed rebellion organized by Gambian rebels from Liberia.
“I was used to shoot my own Gambian brothers because as a soldier, I thought I was doing this in the interest and demand of the Gambian people,” Jatta said in a moving testimony.
The witness emphasized that throughout the operations, Tumbul Tamba was on the phone with former President Jammeh and he could tell this because Tumbul was referring to the other man on the phone as ‘Yes Sir, Your Excellency”.
According to Malick Jatta, when he got to know that the victim shot on that dark Kanifing road was Deyda Hydara, he panicked and feared for his own safety especially after Jammeh, who masterminded the murder, hypocritically condemned the killing.
“What I had feared is what is happening to me now. I am in that soup now,” Jatta who has been in detention since 2017 told the TRRC.
The former patrol team member also narrated how he took part and or was present when Dawda Nyass and Ndongo Mboob were respectively killed.
Again it was Tumbul Tamba who commanded both operations using him, Malick Jatta, Sanna Manjang, Alieu Jeng and at some point Solo Bojang. He also recounted how Tumbul Tamba had described his victims as idiots.
According to Jatta, the patrol team which at various points came under names like Junglers, Black Scorpions etc.
were told their mission was to patrol the border areas around Foni to stop the rebellion in Cassamance from affecting Gambian villages nearby.
“But sometimes the mission turned to abnormal things,” a remorseful Jatta lamented.
He would continue his testimony this morning.
Earlier, journalists Alieu Badara Sowe and Yahya Dampha rounded up the media testimonies with accounts of human rights abuses meted on them and others in the profession.