It is Time That The Air Is Cleared On Manneh’s Whereabouts
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
There are enough facts for anybody to rely on and take Chief Ebrima Manneh’s case to the court here in The Gambia for a redress. A former justice minister who is alive and ticking did admit that he knew where Manneh is, is one key witness who can be sub poena to appear before the courts and say where Manneh is.
6 years ago, this young man was said to have reported for job at his place of work, the Daily Observer offices, in Bakau at the time. There after, he went missing, never returned home to date.
He is not married though but has aging parents, all believed to be in their 70s. He also has brothers and sisters, who never saw him again. Worried are the family members and colleagues both in the country, like us and those outside of the country.
Since then, many efforts were done either to seek his release from the unconstitutional custody or from the bondage of bandits who are unreachable by the laws of the country. Amazing indeed.
Nobody could have thought that such could happen here in The Gambia, a country two decades ago, peaceful as we are and have peace-loving the citizens are. However, it seems this is not the country that is called the Smiling Coast - no not anymore.
How could anybody think that this can happen to a citizen of the Gambia and supposedly by another Gambian? It is unimaginable that such a thing can happen in a country like this kind of kidnapping, and the perpetrators go scot-free.
However, it has happened and we are still in trauma as what happened to our dear colleague can happen to anyone of us. Until justice is seen to have taken place by either the state, which has the sole responsibility to search everywhere, and in doing so should leave no stone unturned; until they get Chief Ebrima Manneh out of this unlawful custody; then no journalist is safe in The Gambia. This may not only stop at the journalists but to any citizen. We must see to it that there are institutions around that are capable of protecting the citizenry.
When DeydaHydara was killed in December 2004 under the nose of the Gambia Police Force, we the journalist did tell the government that if they do not have the resources, human or material, they (Government) should seek assistance from outside to help. At the time, it was Yankuba Touray who was either the minister of information or one of the cabinet members who spoke on behalf of the government and he told us that it was premature to do that.
Media Watch is asking: If it is still premature to call in for a help after 7 years no suspect was brought before the law courts, is it still premature? Yankuba may not be in any position to say a word, but any state minister could attempt to answer this question now. Media Watch for one does not think it is premature to do so 7 years after Deyda was killed.
It is in the same vein that Media Watch is asking the government to open up and invite help from outside. Let us have help from our African brothers or even outside of Africa, America for instance, to have experts come and help us dig into the whereabouts of Chief Ebrima Manneh.
This is a case that should be very easy to establish a fact about his whereabouts now. If and only if the government of The Gambia is interested in finding where he is, there is no reason why they (government) should not be interested in finding him alive or dead.
Manneh is a bonafide citizen of the country. Even if he was not a citizen, as far as he got disappeared here in the Gambia, it should be a concern of the government of the Gambia to establish the fact or misery surrounding his disappearance.
Media Watch feels it very easy to establish the facts, simply because there are living witnesses who could throw light on his whereabouts. Yes the governments, of the Gambia several times denied holding him. Then justice minister, Marie Saine Firdaus did respond to a parliamentary question where and denied that government was holding Chief Ebrima Manneh.
But interestingly another minister of Justice said in an interview with this newspaper that Manneh is alive and is somewhere and will say it when the time comes.
To quote his exact words this what he has to say in quotes “You journalist go about tarnishing the good name of the state but you will shame when he is out, I will tell you when the time comes.”
Now that is on record if the government of the Gambia feels contrary to what former Justice Minister Gomez said, then let them use him as prosecution witness and tell the court where Chief Manneh is. On the other hand, if what he said is what they as a government believes, then they should produce Chief Ebrima Manneh.
The world is watching Gambia government. Recently there has been many conflicting pronouncements on the whereabouts of Manneh, from the President, to the Vice President and Inspector General of Police all on Chief Manneh. The world is confused and do not know what to believe. It is time to clear the air.
Concerns are raised by others too like, the International Federation of journalist (IFJ). On the occasion of Manneh’s seventh year disappearance, they called on the US to investigate the claims over missing journalists presence in America.
“The international Federation of Journalists (IFJ) 6th June 2012 requested in an open letter to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, her personal intervention in investigating allegations over the presence of missing Gambian journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh in the US.
“We write to request that Mrs. Clinton investigate the allegations by the Gambia Government that journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive and lives in the US,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director IFJ Africa Office.
The Inspector General of Police of the Gambia, Mr. YankubaSonko, publicly disclosed on 22 May 2012 that his organisation had received information from Interpol that Chief Ebrima Manneh was in the United States of America.
This information was widely carried by the media but has not been confirmed or denied neither by the US nor any independent source.
“Considering its leading role in the world with regard to respect for the freedom of the press and democracy, we urge US to give this request due consideration with a view to bringing to an end a long wait for the journalist’s family and friends,” Baglo added.
Another concern was raised by the British MPs, who calls for urgent Investigation into missing Gambian Journalist.
“Six years to the day after the disappearance of Gambian journalist Ebrima Manneh North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark has tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the Coalition Government to urgently address the disappearance of missing Gambian journalist.
Gambian journalist Ebrima Manneh was detained in 2006 and after years of refusing to account for his disappearance, in 2011, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Edward Gomez said MrManneh was alive. Since then no further information has been released about the wellbeing of Ebrima Manneh.
Katy said, “I have called for an urgent investigation into the continued detention of Ebrima Manneh. I met with the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia and I am deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of people who are perceived to be opponents of the Government.”
Arthur West, Chair of the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia was present at the meeting. He said:
“We have recently had a very constructive meeting with Katy Clark MP and are very encouraged by the positive support to the Campaign given by Katy at the meeting with myself and two Campaign office bearers.”
Author: Madi MK Ceesay