The Gambia was recently thrown into a state of veritable mass hysteria when word came out that former AFPRAC/APRC stalwart Edward Singhatey was in town to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) about his alleged role in a slew of human rights violations.
Gambians, who have long been perplexed about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Cessay were anxiously to hear directly from the horse’s mouth. The testimony which was streamed live attracted thousands of viewers both inside and outside the country. Gambians were hoping and praying that the former AFPRC Chairman would be bold enough to own up to his personal responsibility for this heinous crime and bring closure to this longstanding issue but he did not. Once could imagine the sense of devastation and dismay that must have beset Koro’s family at the end of Singhatey’s marathon testimony.
Meanwhile Singhatey has masterfully played the victim card, referring to a plot by November 11 coupists to kill Council members and their family members and referring to AFPRC council members as young in their 20s. Never mind that he was the chief architect of the July 22 military takeover that deposed former PPP regime under the late Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
Singhatey consistently denied direct involvement in the torture of Mile 2 inmates, in the aftermath of the 1994 coup, despite consistent evidence to the contrary. According to him, he was there just briefly! Equally, he has flatly denied knowledge or involvement in the gruesome murder of former Finance Minister Koro Ceesay though he has been confronted with multiple evidence confirming his complicity. Koro’s family, who have been eagerly waiting for this day for closure must be surely devastated.
Singhatey used his legal prowess to mislead the TRRC, some would say, hence avoiding self-indictment. As such he admitted collective responsibility, rather than personal responsibility for the November 11 killings and other alleged atrocities.
Cognizant of religious and cultural sentiments of the Gambian society, Singhatey kept repeating sir, ya Imam and occasionally invoked God in a well-calculated move to draw the sympathy of the Commission.
Singhatey’s body language drastically changed in the last session as opposed to his initial appearances suggesting that he might be hiding something.
Singhatey was apparently frustrated with Lead Counsel who was determined to extract the truth so he turned to the Chairman as if he is complaining of victimization and insubordination at the hands of the Counsel. Faal was equally frustrated saying that the sky might fall without establishing the truth.
One thing struck me most in Singhatey’s testimony is that he didn’t show genuine remorse nor did he shed a tear while expressing” sorrow”.
By the end of his marathon testimony that lasted 3 days, Gambians were largely frustrated, some even enraged, that Singhatey failed to own up to his alleged involvement in the murder of Koro Ceesay.
Basidia M Drammeh
We demand our government’s leadership to prosecute Jammeh
I reiterate that after almost two years of thorough investigations and meticulous research that oversaw and recorded scores of witness testimonies and exhibited tones of material evidence, the Janneh Commission had uncovered the most elaborate and the worst economic crimes by anyone in the history of our country since Independence. In fact, Yahya Jammeh’s economic crimes and pilfering are so severe, extensive and corrosive that the Commission, among its recommendations, asked the matter to be referred to the National Assembly for the initiation of formal charges against him. The cabinet agreed as contained in its White Paper.
So, it was our my expectation that a case as serious and compelling as this would be accorded swift and expeditious action by our government that is devoid of the usual bureaucratic red tape; that our National Assembly would take up the matter very quickly and prefer charges against Yahya Jammeh or formally affirm the Commission’s recommendation so that prosecutors could get to work in earnest. Unfortunately, the Barrow administration is not showing serious sign of interest in prosecuting Jammeh, sadly. What is baffling is the decision by our Justice Ministry to file genocide charges against the government of Myanmar at The Hague for the country’s ethnic cleansing of the Minority Rohingya Muslims. Yet, the same Ministry has a nagging habit of reminding Gambians of the lack of resources and limited capacity to go after economic crimes and human rights violations committed domestically.
It is worth highlighting that Jammeh’s crippling financial crimes against the State and The Gambian people cannot just be relegated to the mere freezing of his accounts and seizing his properties or even auctioning them. Similarly, it is one thing to work with our allies and partners both within and outside The Gambia to recover every stolen property and butut from Yahya Jammeh but it is entirely another thing to make sure he is held fully and criminally accountable through unsparing litigation. He has to be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law without hesitation.
Therefore, we demand that our government take up the courageous step, exert pressure and demonstrate firm leadership in such a crucial National Interest by exploring the right channels with persistence and willingness and have Yahya Jammeh in the dock to answer to the economic crimes and all other crimes for that matter. These efforts must not be outsourced to the activists and other concerned individuals and entities only. Government has to lead!
Zakaria Kemo Konteh