By Nelson Manneh
Pa Amady Jallow, former Crimes Management Coordinator of the Gambia Police Force who attempted to investigate the killings of West African Migrants in The Gambia in July 2005 yesterday told the TRRC that the killers of the migrants were callous.
Testifying before the Truth Commission on Monday 1st March 2021, Mr Jallow said there cannot be reconciliation without justice and those found wanting for barbaric acts should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Jallow said he was the Crime Management Coordinator of Gambia Police Force as of 22nd July, 2005. He added there was a musical jamboree at the 22nd July Square on this day, and while the celebrations were ongoing, the late Daba Marena walked to the President and spoke to him. He said thereafter the former IGP, Ousman Sonko, also went to do the same. He said after those two people spoke to Yahya Jammeh, he (Jammeh) left with the entourage and they never came back.
“Assan Sarr, Ndure Cham, Daba Marena, Ousman Sonko were the prominent people of the entourage,” he said.
The following day- 23rd July, 2005- he said he woke up and saw several miss calls from one Njie, the former Deputy Inspector General of Police. This made him to wonder as to what had happened, thus he decided to call Njie back. After he spoke to Njie, he (Njie) instructed him to go to the Kairaba Police Station to join the NIA to investigate a case pertaining to migrants.
“I went direct to Kairaba Station and when I arrived, I went to the Charge Office where I saw some people detained. I went to the Relief Commander and asked him about the arrestees. He pointed them to me and I spoke to three of them,” he said.
The witness recollected that the leader of the group told him that they were from Senegal and were to board a vessel in The Gambia to Europe.
Almost all of them were half-naked and while they were interrogated, one of the men, Ebrima Faye alias Pa Faye, joined them. He said the man told them that they were converged in Mbour where they had a Ghanaian called Kofi based in Mbour, who was supposed to facilitate their travel to Spain through his Gambian counterpart.
Witness Jallow said he was given a paper that had a telephone number and when he phoned it, he got one Lamin Tunkara, who confirmed that he helped people to travel to Europe. So Jallow told him that he wanted him to help his brother to travel to Europe. Jallow and Tunkara would meet at Westfield with Pa Faye. He arrested and escorted Tunkara to the Kairaba Station without facing any resistance from him.
Continuing his testimony, Jallow said while in the process of obtaining the migrants’ statements, the Deputy IG called him and told him that two bodies were discovered in Brufut and that he should go there and find out. The witness said within a span of three minutes, the Deputy IG called again and told him that there were four bodies instead of two as he previously told him. The DIG then told him to go with their cameraman, one Ali Njie.
“On my way to Ghana Town, I thought that a boart had capsized, I went to Brufut PIU and told them to take me to the scene. I was led by the PIU Officers and we went about two (2) meters and saw the first dead body, then I told the photographer to take the photo. The corpse was half-naked and the head was broken and blood was oozing from the head and ears respectively.
“When I reached the place I saw blood on the dead bodies. In my experience, the killings could have happened four hours back and the assailants were in a hurry and had to leave the bodies there instead of disposing them. I saw another body in similar conditions and I told the cameraman to take two shots. Blood was oozing from the mouth and nose and they were half naked as well. The death bodies were not tied, their hands were lose,” he said.
Still in the forest, the witness said they saw other bodies and when they counted, they were eight in total.
“I was traumatized, confused and as head of crimes in the country, I was terrified. I stood there meditating and I believed it was a massacre inside the forest. When I arrived at the scene, it was a total massacre,” he said.
Jallow said after a while, Ousman Sonko arrived with GPF1 and called him. He said Sonko did not see the bodies neither did he ask about them or entered the crime scene (The Forest). He said in his conversation with Sonko, he told him that the killings were foul play and barbaric.
Asked whether Sonko was traumatized, Jallow said he did not notice that in him. He said the former CDS, Babucarr Jatta, saw him and asked him whether they were in the investigation and he responded in the affirmative.
The witness said one Landing 13 Badjie whispered to him to be careful with the case. He said 13 Badjie cautioned him because he knew that the State was behind the Killings.
Jallow said The Standard newspaper Editor-in-chief, Lamin Cham and former Daily Observer Reporter, were with him and they called the Brufut Health Center which took the bodies to the mortuary. Upon arrival in Banjul, they put the bodies in the mortuary.
“All the deceased persons had foreign currencies with them (Euros, Dollars and CFA France). I called the IGP and informed him that the bodies were at the mortuary but before I finished, he hangs up the phone,” he said.
In his interview with Lamin Cham, the witness said he told Cham that it was a foul play and anyone found wanting will be dealt with according to law.
Testifying further, Jallow said he was in charge of Serious and Major Crimes respectively. He said he called all the Commanders and told them what happened during the weekend in Brufut and dispatched them on a fact-finding mission. Jallow said former IGP Sonko saw him as a problem because he was getting into something, but he did not tell him to stop.
The veteran police officer disclosed that while in the process of the fact-finding mission, there was a file he received prior to the mission which emanated from Spain informing them that there was a cargo ship which was to carry illegal migrants to Spain. He said he then assigned Interpol in the name of Numo Kujabi to investigate it. But he said Kujabi told him that the ship left two days ago.
Jallow said while in his office, the Deputy IGP entered and told him that he has been transferred with immediate effect and Commissioner Jatta Baldeh would take over from him. According to him, his transfer was in connection to his attempt to investigate the matter and it made his officers to be dejected and disappointed.
“I was told that I was going to be the Commissioner for Traffic, which I never commanded before. I feel it was a conspiracy against me and immediately I was expecting a sack,” he said.
Mr. Jallow said he was not only asked to serve as Commissioner for Traffic, but was completely removed from the Police Headquarters and taken to Kairaba Police Station, all aimed at preventing him from coming into contact with the investigation.
He said all the furniture in his office was taken to Kairaba Police Station. Jallow alleged that none of the security had the audacity to execute the migrants other than Yahya Jammeh.
He said he later decided to recuse himself from the investigation because he was kind of isolated but he never gave up. The witness told the commission that he was advised by close friends to watch his back because there was a particular Jungler, Nfansu Nyabally who was assigned to kill him.
“They wanted me dead because of the case I was investigating in 2014,” he said.
Jallow said in 2015 he went to UK to further his studies. He said while he was in UK, he was chatting with a fellow Jarranka on Facebook who asked him about the day the Ghanaians were killed. He said the person was a PIU Officer who told him that they buried 9 bodies behind a baobab tree in a mass grave in Brufut.
“I saw the place but cannot identify the spot,” he said.
About the witness
Jallow was born on 23rd April 1966 in Jarra Sankuya village. After finishing his school, he was enlisted in the Gambia Police Force in 1986. In 2005, he was elevated to the rank of Crime Management Coordinator. He said as an investigator, he served as Chief Investigator in mass atrocities in Africa where more than 300, 000 people were killed. He said this had made him understand the value of truthfulness and not misleading the records.