Justice Minister: Chief Manneh is Alive

Monday, October 10, 2011
Gambia’s justice minister has confirmed that Ebrima Chief Manneh, a Gambian journalist whose whereabouts remain unknown ever since his mysterious disappearance in 2006, is alive.
“Now, let me tell you with a high degree of certainty that Ebrima Chief Manneh is somewhere,” minister Edu Gomez told The Daily News during an exclusive interview Thursday morning at his office in Banjul.
He however declined to go into full details of his knowledge about the missing journalist, though he vowed that journalist Manneh is not in the custody of Gambia government, as strongly alleged.
“We shall talk about this case at a later stage when it is more convenient; when I can prove to you beyond any reasonable doubt…” he said.
“But we will cross our bridge when we get to it, then some of you journalists will be ashamed of what you published. Let the right time come, that’s all I can tell you.”
Ebrima Chief Manneh, who until his disappearance, was the presidential affairs correspondent of pro-government Daily Observer newspaper of Gambia.
There have been strong allegations that he was whisked away from his office by some plain clothes state security men in a broad daylight.
His arrest is believed to result from a story he culled from an international news media on Gambia, but critical of the regime.
Dr Saja Taal, a senior lecturer at the University of The Gambia was the managing director of Daily Observer at the time.
Gambia government however repeatedly denied ever detaining journalist Manneh, whose colleagues and family have over the years worked hard to establish his whereabouts, yet to no avail.
In 2008, the Abuja based Ecowas Court of Justice decided in favour of journalist Manneh and urged Gambia to immediately release him and also be compensated with an amount of US$100, 000.00.
Gambia government however refused to honour the sub-regional court’s decision. It lately filed for a review of that judgement.
Even among his colleagues and family members, Chief Manneh is thought to be dead and there were some unconfirmed reports to that effect.
And Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh had also suggested that he is dead when he, for the first time in his 17-year rule, engaged the country’s independent media leaders in dialogue in March this year at State House.
“Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh,” Jammeh said. His comment was followed by an urging from media rights activists for him to explain knowledge of journalist Manneh.
After five years of painful search, The Gambia’s justice minister has however revealed that Chief Manneh is somewhere.
“Is he alive?” our own Saikou Ceesay asked him after he admitted knowledge of him.
“Well, I can tell you that Ebrima Chief Manneh is alive,” Minister Edu Gomez noted with emphasis.
Author: Saikou Ceesay
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