Edward Sighateh current Vice President of ECOWAS West Africa Regional bloc and his brother Peter Sighateh have been named as the killer of Gambia’s former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay. Mr. Sighateh was a serving member of the military Junta who overthrew the former government of Sir Dawda Jawara. He has served as Defense minister and later Vice President of the military dictatorship.
Mr. Sighateh and his brother Peter Sighateh have always been alleged to be involved in several killings and tortures of civilians and Military after the military takeover in the Gambia in 1994. They have always been rumored to be the orchestrators of the killing of Ousman Koro Ceesay a young Gambian Finance Minister in the military junta.
The eye witness testimony of former junior soldier Alagie Kanyi at the on going Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission shocked the nation and the conscience of Gambians. Mr. Kanyi who confessed to being involved in several other killings himself, testified that him and three other junior soldiers were ordered to report to Yankuba Touray’s resident in Faraja for an undisclosed operation. Kanyi, who earlier confessed to killing Nov 11th coup plotters and one other Junior soldier said he was personally called by Edward Signateh then defense minister to report to Yankuba’s resident.
Kanyi said Edward never told them what operations or the reason they were asked to report to this resident. He narrated that Edward told him that they will be coming with a civilian minister to the resident and that he should escort the minister into the house. Upon entering the compound Kanyi said he saluted the minister whom he did not recognize into the house led by Edward Sighateh. Upon entering the house he called, Peter sighateh stroke the minister with a wooden baton twice instantly killing the minister. “There was blood everywhere and we were asked to each strike the minister with a wooden stick” supposedly to signify that we were all involved in the killing of the minister. Present were Edward Sighateh who first stroke the minister, his brother Peter Sighateh, Yankuba Touray the resident of the home and two other Junior officers all hit the Minister to affirm their involvement. The other officers were BK Jatta, Pa Alieu Gomez and Tumbul Tamba who also hit the minister to sign off to the killing. Kanyi said the body of Minister Ceesay was carried to his official car while they were instructed to clean up the blood in the house.
The following day there was reports over state media that a minister was involved in an accident and he was burned to asses beyond recognition. Kanyi said it was then he realized that it was the same minister who they killed the night before at Yankuba Touray’s Resident. Mr. Kanyi said it appears that the house was stage for the murder to take place as the place was unusually quiet. Kanyi said two days later they were called to Edward Sighateh’s house and were briefed that they are soldiers and were involved in an operation and that it was done and successful. He said they were instructed not to talk to anybody about the incident.
Kanyi’s testimony seems to have been corroborated by a previous witness former Lieutenant Demba Njie, Sgt. Major at the State House during Sir D.K .Jawara’s government and one time chief of Staff and Protocol to former Dictator Yahya Jammeh. Njie said Edward was involved in the killings of Former Minister Koro Ceesay. However, both Mr. Kanyi and Njie did not explicitly mentioned why the minister was targeted for killing by Edward and Peter Sighateh. Demba Njie hinted that Edward was “Over ambitious” and may have been jealous of Young Minister Koro Ceesay’s closeness to Chairman of the Junta Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh had admired the brilliance displayed by the late Koro Ceesay and was beginning to trust the young minister. The testimony and confession of Mr. Kanyi was incredibly powerful. He confessed to being involved to killing his fellow citizens and deeply regretted for being used by the junta for such killings.
The TRRC is making remarkable progress in producing witnesses who confessed to committing crimes. Kanyi’s testimony was also preceded by two other emotional and gruesome accounts by two other junior soldiers Sait Darboe and Abdoulie Darboe who were allegedly involved in November 11th military operations in 1994. Both implicated the Sighateh brothers and other military junta in executing soldiers in cold blood.
Mr. Edward Sighateh’s alleged involvement in killing former civilian minister Ousman Koro Ceesay has far reaching consequences than previous perpetrators named by other witnesses. Mr. Signateh was the Vice President of the Gambia during the Junta and he is currently serving as a VP of ECOWAS a body that has recently been recognized as Regional body working to defend democracy and Human Rights. Edwards continue to serve the ECOWAS body under such a cloud must be addressed by the body. The institution has all its credibility on the line if they failed to address this gross human rights violation and at best heinous crime committed by Edward Sighateh. It is also in order for Peter Sighateh who is equally implicated in the murder of Koro Ceesay and others to be investigated and brought to justice. Peter Sighateh is currently resident in the UK Kingdom. The brothers and many others who were involved in such crimes must be pursued and if possible return to the Gambia for prosecution or their case forwarded to the ICC. The murder of innocent citizens has no statue of limitation and these rogue brutal citizens must be held accountable to their crimes. Human Rights defenders across the globe who have been fighting to defend against human rights violations must take up this case… The TRRC is unearthing crimes and confessions beyond anything that was anticipated.
Report file by Demba Baldeh Associate Editor