Shall We Ever See Chief Manneh Again?

Thursday, July 10, 2008
It is now two years since Chief Ebrima Manneh disappeared into thin air. Since then, several theories have been advanced for his disappearance. Some say he was picked up by security agents. But the state counters that they do not know his whereabouts. At a point, he was reported to have been sighted at a police station in Fatoto.

Then the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) stepped into the matter by taking the Gambia Government to the ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria. After several adjournments and the failure of the Gambian government and its officials to respond to subpoenas, the court finally ruled that the Gambia Government should produce Chief Ebrima Manneh. Even then, there is still inaction on the part of the state.

This has fuelled speculation as to whether Chief Ebrima Manneh is still alive? But we want to be less pessimistic and be more optimistic. We secretly hope that Chief is somewhere taking in all that is happening and that one day fate will surprise us by thrusting him out on the streets of Serekunda again.

It is this hope that has led us to revisit the Chief Ebrima Manneh case. He is not only a journalist, but he is also a bona fide citizen of The Gambia. It is therefore incumbent on the state to use all the resources at its disposal to find him and put to rest speculation that the young man has gone to the great beyond. Keeping silent, or not doing anything, will only worsen matters.

We believe that the step taken by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) by asking the National Assembly to take up the case of Chief Manneh is in the national interest. After all, the legislative body is composed of the representatives of the people. It is these representatives who should be in the forefront of speaking out against acts such as disappearances or murders of citizens of this country.

The National Assembly owes it to the people of The Gambia to initiate a debate on the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh and the murder of Deyda Hydara. That will be a way of taking the cases to the national level where they will get the sort of attention they deserve. When citizens disappear inexplicably, or get murdered in cold blood, then nobody is safe. From the way things are going, nobody in this country is immune to sudden disappearance or cold-blooded murder. If it can happen to Chief Manneh and Deyda Hydara, then it can also happen to anyone of us.

Fighting for Chief Manneh is no longer just a media affair; it is a national matter because he is a citizen of this country who has disappeared in mysterious circumstances for two years now. We shall continue to ask about Chief Manneh's whereabouts until we are told where he is - alive or dead.

"The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just."

Abraham Lincoln