Ali Jawo, Ex-minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure yesterday
testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC),
chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise.
Demba Jawo fondly called D.A. Jawo, a seasoned and veteran journalist was appointed minister of Information in February 2017 until June, 2018 when he was removed in a cabinet reshuffle by President Adama Barrow.
He stated that no proper investigation was launched into the death of Deyda Hydara, noting that Jammeh regime was never serious about investigating Deyda’s death.
He pointed out that two ladies; Ida Jagne and Nian Sarang Jobe who were with Deyda Hydara on the night of the incident were transferred to Dakar for treatment after Deyda Hydara’s death.
He further pointed out that the autopsy report and the bullets extracted from Deyda Hydara’s body were never shown to either his family or the public.
He pointed out that the citizenship of Alhajie Yorro Jallow, Baba Galleh Jallow, Pap Saine and Deyda Hydara were questioned by the Jammeh government. The witness disclosed that each time Deyda Hydara’s death was mentioned, Jammeh government was always uneasy and uncomfortable.
D.A. Jawo told the Commission about his arrest whilst working at the Independent Newspaper following the publication of a story authored by Gheran Senghore touching on the collapse of the wall at the State House.
He noted that Baba Galleh Jallow was also arrested as well and they were detained at the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
He asserted that he received two death threat letters from supporters of Yahya Jammeh and that soon after the receipt of one of the letters, an arson attack was attempted at the Jamburr village residence of Ebrima Sillah, current minister of Information and the then BBC correspondent, and Deyda Hydara was killed.
“If any journalist was to be killed, he could have been the one,” he concluded.
D.A. Jawo worked with the Gambia Utility Corporation from 1974 to 1993 and moved to the Daily Observer Company and started as a freelance reporter but was later taken on board and was attached to the courts.
The witness disclosed that he was very interested in pursuing journalism and in 1996 he was appointed news editor after the news editor, Ebrima Ceesay travelled out of the country.
He said the Daily Observer was sold in May, 1999 to Amadou Samba who was perceived to be Ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s bosom friend. He revealed that after the new management took over the Daily Observer, he was sacked because of his independent stance and he joined the Independent Newspaper as editor-in-chief, whilst he continued working with the BBC and Associated Press (AP).
He told the Commission that he took over as the Gambia Press Union president from Deyda Hydara, a position he held until 2005. He asserted that he jointly authored a book “Living Mirror” with one Alota, dedicated to Deyda Hydara.
He explained that the Daily Observer was the first daily newspaper in the country and it serves as training institutions for journalists in the country. He further explained that journalists are agents of communication and they served as watch-dog of the society.
He testified that there were a lot of foreign journalists working at the Daily Observer, adding that these foreign journalists played key role in Gambian journalism.
D.A. Jawo told the Commission that the founder and proprietor of Daily Observer, Kenneth Best was arrested in October, 1994 and was deported to his native country, Liberia without due process. The witness revealed that after Mr. Best’s deportation, he continued working in very different circumstances.
He mentioned some foreign journalists like Ellicot Seade, Chikeluba Kenechukwu, Rodney Shea, Chernor Ojuku, Sule Musa, Moco Macauley and Pa Winston who were deported after Kenneth Best.
He also mentioned journalists like Justice Fofana, David Thomas and Pascal Eze who left after they felt very uneasy with the Jammeh government.D.A. Jawo told the Commission that the Daily Observer was directly controlled by Yahya Jammeh from the State House and as Gambia Press Union president, he received a lot of complaints from journalists.