Tapha Sosseh, the dynamic Iron lady of The Gambia Press Union (GPU), yesterday,
11th July, 2019 testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations
Commission (TRRC), chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise where she gave a detailed
chilling testimony of events and issues relating to her during former President
Born on the 27th July, 1979 in Banjul, Ndey Tapha Sosseh joined the Daily Observer in 1998 as an intern and became Sub-editor and columnist in 1999 and began running the ‘Women in Development’ column for a period before travelling to the United Kingdom for further studies.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh returned in June, 2004 and was appointed Editor-in-Chief where she served for seven months before she was axed by the management. She held the position of the Secretary General of Gambia Press Union from 2005 to 2007.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh was the secretary General of Coalition for Change, The Gambia and Civil Society Association, The Gambia. She was also a member of the International Federation of Journalists, the voice for the voice who are silent said she became Sub-editor and assistant editor after D.A. Jawo was axed and Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow, current Executive Secretary of TRRC had resigned from the Daily Observer.
She told the Commission that during her tenure as the Editor-in Chief of the Daily Observer, there was self- censorship and she gave instances of intimidation where some government officials were posted to the premises of Daily Observer.
She revealed that on the night Deyda Hydara died, she had passed by the Point Newspaper Office and saw his Mercedes Benz car parked outside and she wanted to stop by and say hello to him but she went home.
She further revealed that she was later called by Sheriff Bojang and informed about Deyda Hydara’s death.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh disclosed that later the following day, a solidarity meeting was held in honour of Deyda Hydara.
She explained that during the meeting with some GPU leadership, they agreed that there would be news blackout for one week in all the private media outfits. She also told the Commission about her encounter with Amadou Samba and Baba Jobe, the perceived owners of the Daily Observer.
She also told the Commission about the meeting of the GPU leadership with the National Security Council chaired by then vice-president, Isatou Njie-Saidy.
She said initially, the permit for journalists to stage a procession was refused but was granted a day before the scheduled date and they started from the Arch to the Police Headquarters and to the Ministry of Interior. She disclosed that after the solidarity march, the media outfit engaged in news blackout for a week.
She said a year after Deyda’s death some foreign journalists who visited The Gambia were shocked when they could not access the site where Deyda Hydara was slain.
She explained that few years later, the NIA wrote a ridiculous report blaming Deyda for his own death.
At this juncture, Ndey Tapha Sosseh stated that Ex-president Jammeh ordered the murder of Deyda Hydara.
She told the Commission that she was outside the country when she wrote the response to the disparaging Jammeh remarks with Kebba Dibba of GRTS about the death of Deyda Hydara.
At this point, deputy Counsel, Horeja Bala Gaye produced a copy of the Point Newspaper and read the said report of the witness to the hearing of the audience.
She confirmed that following the publication of the GPU response, Pap Saine, Sam Sarr, Ebrima Sawaneh, Sarata Jabbie-Dibba, Emil Touray, Pa Modou Faal and Abubacarr Saidykhan were arrested.
She explained that she travelled within the sub-region, conducting interviews with international media outfits like the BBC, CNN and talking to pressure groups and international community about the danger to her colleagues in the hands of Jammeh.
“I met many African Heads of States and even former South African president, Thabo Mbeki to explain the state of affairs in the country,” she stated.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh told the Commission that she spent 9 years in exile and during her stint outside, she engaged in capacity building activities for the media and human rights issues in the sub-region.
‘Iron Lady’ Ndey Tapha Sosseh further told the Commission that the mandate for change in The Gambia was to bring about a peaceful change that would involve the Civil Society.
She said whilst she was outside, her name was blacklisted amongst those considered as danger to Jammeh government.
She cited instances where she was intimidated, harassed and was even threatened with deportation, citing her encounter with the Zimbabwean authority at Harare Airport.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh told the Commission that several attempts were made by Jammeh’s government to attack and extradite her from Mali.
She pointed out that the current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad, Momodou Tangara attempted to have her extradited from Mali to The Gambia. She indicated that people believed to be sent by Yahya Jammeh attacked her mother’s house twice.
Iron lady Sosseh revealed that she interviewed a member of Jammeh hit men-‘Junglers’ and the interview was documented in which he made many revelations. She further revealed that the former ‘jungler’ named some journalists like D.A. Jawo, Baba Galleh Jallow, herself as names amongst the would be victims that they had planned to kill.
She told the Commission that the ‘jungler’ also informed her how Major Kalipha Bajinka saved her and D.A.Jawo at Sindola Hotel in Kanilai.
Ex-GPU prexy said the ‘jungler’ also told her how they use different methods to eliminate people and that the ‘jungler’ confirmed to her that he witnessed 100 killings including the killing of the forty-four (44) foreign nationals from the sub-region.
She pointed out that some were killed in Kanilai and others around the beach.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh disclosed that she was involved in the printing of T-Shirts allegedly used by Dr Amadou Scattred Jammeh which led to his arrest, detention and subsequent conviction and sentence.
She revealed that whilst Dr Scattred Janneh was in Mile 2 prisons he provided her with the lists of the nine (9) death roll inmates adding that the execution took place on the 23rd August, 2012.
She said after the execution, there was enormous international outcry and she contacted Amnesty International, lawyers and filed a suit at the ECOWAS Court for a stay of execution.
She told the Commission that she helped several Gambian journalists and security personnel who fled the country during Jammeh’s era.
She also told the Commission that she met late Kukoi Samba Sanyang, the 1981 abortive coup leader in Mali and they had wide ranging conversations/meetings.
She revealed that Kukoi told her that Jammeh poisoned him and the former warned him that he should not try what he did with Ex-president Jawara and if he tries the same he (Jammeh) would drink tea from his skull.
She stated that Yahya Jammeh is a lunatic; that he refused to allow the families of Kukoi Samba Sanyang and Buba M. Baldeh have their corpses buried in The Gambia.
In the same vein, Ndey Tapha Sosseh after her detailed chilling testimony disclosed that freedom of expression is not only journalist matter but also everybody’s matter or right.
She indicated that all the African States that are growing at a faster pace did so because of freedom and access to information and expression.
She disclosed that she looked forward to the recommendation of the TRRC in ensuring that the ‘Never Again’ campaign would not happen again.
She thanked Article 19, the Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), the GPU and all other international organizations for the role they played during Jammeh era.