On this year’s remembrance (7th anniversary) of the former Daily Observer reporter, Chief Ebrima Manneh’s disappearance, I am mourning him as dead for very obvious and conclusive reasons. It wasn’t an easy route to take, the least of my choices. I have had to do this to bring a closure to the much talked about journalist who was abducted on broad day light at the Daily Observer premises in July of 2006.
Over the years, Gainako had engaged many people, some of whom were personal friends to the late Chief Ebrima Manneh. One such who reported for Gainako while in the Gambia was Foroyaa’s former reporter now in Sweden, Yaya Dampha. He last spotted Chief Manneh in Sarre-Ghai police station. We spoke with another close friend of Chief Manneh, Pa Ousman Darboe currently in Seattle Washington who was a live eyewitness account of Chief Manneh’s abduction at the Daily Observer premises. Gainako also interviewed Chief Manneh’s brother in the USA, a former GNA soldier; one Lamin Manneh who spoke very sweet about his brother, Chief Manneh. Gainako spoke and shared details about Chief Ebrima Manneh with many other credible sources including those at home and abroad, added to the fact that we followed almost all correspondences from his father, Sarjo Manneh who continually decried about his son’s whereabouts and followed up the matter to the highest office in the Gambia. Gainako has also participated doing a successful fundraiser for Chief Manneh and countless other journalists in solidarity.
We must start by telling every Gambian and the international community that Chief Manneh’s disappearance happened under the watch of Dr. Sajar Taal, a Managing Director of the Daily Observer at the time who doubled as professor at the University of the Gambia. Any investigation about the disappeared journalist must start with Dr. Taal.
The Jammeh administration actually is culpable in the disappearance of chief Manneh. It is consistent with their deeds and signal message they’ve been sending in the open and in secret by their aggression and “bait” laws like the draconian law that claimed the life of the former Point Newspaper Boss, Deyda Hydara for his famous column, “Good Morning Mr. President.” The regime has a record of lying about things especially their crimes and they do everything to bury their foot tracks so it cannot be uncovered. If an administration that calls itself a Government can lie about the little things, there is nothing that stops them from lying about the big things. Jammeh’s administration from the head to the tail is full of destructive pests and pathological liars who will habitually lie for their pockets. The administration has proved to be a lying and criminal machinery instead of a Government that would represent Gambia and its people.
The Jammeh tyrannical administration was dragged to the ECOWAS court with the help of the Ghana based media father-figure, Professor Karikari. In the ruling, the Jammeh administration was ordered to produce Chief Manneh and to compensate him and his family for the damages incurred. Jammeh and his gang of thugs ignored this verdict. Six US Senators petitioned the international community and took Jammeh’s regime to task over the journalist’s disappearance. They again ignored this call. Gambian journalists, activists and politicians made similar calls over the years, but to no avail. In the administration’s usual banditry and lying style, they advanced the story that Chief Ebrima Manneh is in fact in the US. They even tried to cook up their stories and when they were taken to task, they kept mute about it.
With the much exerted pressure on Jammeh’s administration and their refusal to produce Chief Manneh, together with revelations by Jammeh’s former associate Bai Lowe on Freedom Radio, it is conclusive to say that Chief Ebrima Manneh is dead. We must remember and mourn him as dead. Out of respect for his family, friends, and fellow activists, Gambians and the concerned international community must now accept the fact that Chief Manneh is dead and the crime was committed by none other than Jammeh and his thugs. If the administration cannot be successfully dragged to the Hague court now due to some of the complications involved, we must put this particular item on the to-do list come after the liberation forces finally put a hand on Jammeh and his administration. I am sure even Jammeh himself will accept the deal of going to court to set the records straight in the spirit of justice.
To Sarjo Manneh and his family, you lost a dear son and that is Chief Ebrima Manneh. To Gambians and the media fraternity, you lost a citizen and a journalist. The task ahead while not easy but we must continue to see justice delivered. Steve Biko, an apartheid hero in South Africa’s gruesome murder didn’t come to light till 27 years after his death. I believe some of these criminal activities in the Gambia will also come to light some day whether in our time or another time. With these words, I now say REST IN PEACE CHIEF EBRIMA MANNEH! MAY THE GOOD LORD FOLLOW YOUR GRUESOME DEMISE WITH JUSTICE AND BRING THE PERPETRATORS TO BOOK.
Yero Jallow lives in Minnesota, USA. He is an activist who doubles as Gainako’s co-editor and contributes to most of Gambia’s online media.