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In search of Chief Ebrima Manneh

Jun 4, 2012, 12:39 PM

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) is concerned about the recent statement made by the Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko over the Chief Ebrima Manneh saga. He indicated in an interview with The Standard newspaper that his organization had received information from Interpol that the missing Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, is in the United States of America.

The Inspector General of Police however failed to state when exactly his organization received information from Interpol about Chief Ebrima Manneh and the exact date the missing journalist arrived in America.

While we do not want to tell the State how to conduct its investigations into the matter since we are not professional investigators, we feel it is important for the State to leave no stone unturned in its bid to unearthing the truth about the missing journalist so that the matter is laid to rest.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria, relied on evidence adduced by two plaintiff witnesses to deliver its verdict in the case. According to one of the witnesses, a former staff reporter of the Daily Observer newspaper, Chief was arrested by State Security agents at his place of work.

The other witness testified that he saw Manneh in a Police Station in Fatoto in the Upper River Region of the country. Given that the verdict of the Court has not been overturned coupled with the fact the evidence of the witnesses remains uncontroverted, then this leaves the Gambia Government with the options of either complying with the judgment or engaging in a thorough investigation into the matter. It is our fervent belief that the evidence of the two witnesses could serve as a basis for beginning a progressive and conclusive investigation into the matter.

The Gambia Government officials have been making conflicting statements over the disappearance of Chief Manneh. Rather than engage in a speculative expedition, it is important for the State to do its utmost with the sole objective of locating Chief Manneh’s whereabouts. When the ECOWAS Court delivered judgment in the case, the then Honourable Minister of Justice Attorney General, Marie Saine-Firdaus, told lawmakers in response to a question posed to her by the former minority leader Honourable Momodou Sanneh that Manneh is not in State custody and that the State did not know anything about his whereabouts.

This left people puzzling about the whereabouts of the missing journalist. During a meeting with media chiefs on March 16 2011, the Gambian leader said his “Government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh”.  Last October, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Edward Anthony Gomez, indicated in an interview with The Daily News newspaper that Manneh is alive, but he refused to disclose the whereabouts of the missing journalist.

 Following this statement by the Attorney General, Sarjo Manneh, the father of the missing journalist who broke into tears in a discussion with GPU members, indicated that he wants to have an audience with the Justice Minister in order to have information about the whereabouts of his son. The GPU in a letter to the then Justice Minister asked for an audience with him as we sought to arrange a tripartite meeting involving the Attorney General, the GPU executive members and the family of Chief Manneh. Up until the time he ceased to be the Minister of Justice and Attorney, Mr Edward Gomez did not grant our request.

The State according to our Constitution is mandated to protect life and property. Therefore, it is up to the State to protect every life and property within the territorial jurisdiction of the country as it has creditably done recently in apprehending suspected murderers and assailants.

We are asking the Government to solicit support from its allies abroad if on its own it cannot figure out solutions to this problem. We believe that Chief Ebrima Manneh’s family who has been suffering since July 2006 need to know the whereabouts of their loved one.