By Aisha Tamba
Adama Conteh, widow of the only Gambian who was arrested together with West African migrants in July 2005 and later killed, has wept as she testified on the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her late husband.
Adama told the TRRC yesterday: “One morning we were having breakfast and he had a telephone call. I overheard him saying ‘I am coming; I am coming’. He later told me that he was going to Banjul. He didn’t return until after 4am. They came with him to the house with his hands cuffed from behind. Those who escorted him did not wear a uniform. But they were more than 10 people. I was then asked to go out of the room. They were really intimidating.”
“I went out and stood under the veranda. They did not stay long inside. So when they came out with Lamin, the landlord asked them where they were going with him but one of them said to him if he wanted to know he should come with them,” she said.
She said when they left, she entered the house and noticed that it was ransacked.
“It was later that Lamin called me on my phone to inform me that they were taking him to Banjul police headquarters. That is the time I realised that he was arrested with the West African migrants because the government doesn’t believe that they were migrants,” she explained.
Conteh said the Kairaba police station was the last place Tunkara’s family knew him to have been kept – where she would take food to him.
She said it was when Lamin was transferred to Kairaba police that he asked him to contact counsel Neneh Cham to facilitate his bail.
“Counsel Cham managed to get him a police bail but the day he was supposed to be released, the police said the station officer was not at work. But when his younger brother took his dinner, he was nowhere to be seen,” she said.
She said it was after the birth of her child that she returned to Mile 2 to find out the circumstances surrounding Lamin’s disappearance.
“I spent the next weeks and months looking for him. I searched for him up to Jeshwang, Mile Two and even the NIA. I remember at one point a man found me at the gate of the NIA and asked me to stop looking for him. He then told me ‘so Lamin Tunkara is your husband’… It then occurred to me he knew something about it. He then put me in his car and took me home,” she testified.
In her concluding remarks, Ms Conteh called for justice for her late husband as she vowed not to forgive the perpetrators.
“I cannot forgive them because they placed a big burden on me, something very painful. I have a child who was born without seeing her father. My daughter has now grown up just to realise that Yahya Jammeh killed her father and she wants justice,” she said.