Journalist Buya Jammeh urges colleagues to remain committed

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Buya Jammeh, Gambian journalist resident in the United States yesterday called on all journalists to stay firm, committed and steadfast to the profession.

Buya Jammeh made this call whilst testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise.

The witness who gave testimony through the Skype said whilst he was in exile, he coordinated and made efforts with other journalists like Ndey Tapha Sosseh to contact pressure groups and the international community to release journalists incarcerated by Ex-president Jammeh.

Buya Jammeh attended Muslim High School and started working with the Independent Newspaper in 2001 and was also worked as a DJ for Radio One FM Station.

The witness said his 1st trouble started when he was going to work and upon arrival at the Chinese Embassy in Kanifing, he was called by some PIU officers who requested to search his bag and after the search, he had fracas with one of the officers who slapped him and his colleagues joined him and began beating him.

He told the Commission that after the incident though he had courage to work, he felt unsafe to work as a journalist in that hostile environment.

He recalled the arson attack at the Independent Newspaper in 2003 and the arrest of the then editor-in-chief, Abdoulie Sey who was reportedly taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul. The witness further recalled that sometime in March 2006, the Independent Newspaper was shut down and top brass of the newspaper were arrested.

He explained that Madi Ceesay, editor-in-chief, Musa Saidykhan and Lamin Fatty were arrested in connection with an article published about the then Interior Minister Samba Bah in connection with the failed Ndure Cham coup on 21 March 2006.

Buya Jammeh further explained that after the arrest of the Independent Newspaper journalists, the paper was closed and most of the journalists went to other media outfits while others quit the job.

The witness said he went to Daily Express Newspaper managed by Sam Oni but later fell out with him and he then joined the Daily Observer which was managed by Dr. Sarja Taal.

He narrated his encounter with Dr. Sarja Taal in connection with the trial of Fatou Jaw Manneh which Dr. Taal felt was not favourable to him and he threatened him (witness) that he would sacrifice him first before he (Dr. Taal) is sacrificed by Jammeh.

The witness told the Commission that he was threatened by Dr. Taal that he could call the NIA to pick him up.

Buya Jammeh stated that after the exit of Dr. Taal, he also had another bitter encounter with Dida Hilake, an Ethiopian, who was appointed as the managing editor of the Daily Observer.

He explained that his difference with Dida Hilake was in connection with his position at the Gambia Press Union and he was sacked.

Buya Jammeh told the Commission that he moved to Today Newspaper managed by Adiamo where he worked for a short stint.

The witness recalled that in 2009 when Ex-president Jammeh made a callous statement about the late Deyda Hydara which irked journalists and the GPU.

The GPU was prompted to react to Ex-president Jammeh’s statement thus GPU issued a statement reminding him of his responsibility as the president of the republic and condemning his said statement which was published in both The Point Newspaper and the Foroyaa Newspaper.

He pointed out that the said publication resulted in the arrest of seven journalists but he went into hiding and fled the country to Senegal.

Author: Bruce Asemota