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Which is which?

Oct 11, 2011, 3:05 PM

It is now over five years since journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh disappeared into thin air. Since then, several theories have been advanced for his disappearance.

While some say he was picked up by state security agents, the state had on several occasions countered that they “do not know” his whereabouts.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in 2008 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 Gambian state.

This has fuelled speculation as to whether Chief Ebrima Manneh is still alive.

But now, we want to be less pessimistic and, in fact, to be more optimistic, taking into account the remarks by Edward Gomez, attorney general and minister of justice, in his interview with The Daily News newspaper.

In that interview, published in the Daily News edition of  yesterday, Gomez said journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, but declined to go into full details of his knowledge about the missing journalist.

“Now, let me tell you with a high degree of certainty that Ebrima Chief Manneh is somewhere,” Gomez was quoted as saying.

The remarks by Justice minister Edward Gomez have, no doubt, brought more confusion into the case of Chief Ebrima Manneh.

After the state has denied on several occasions that it has no hand in the disappearance of Manneh, Gomez is now telling Gambians that Manneh is alive and somewhere else.

Though he did not go into details about Manneh’s whereabouts, we would have expected him to tell us where exactly the missing journalist is, if he is indeed alive.

Since The Gambia is a member state of ECOWAS, it would be wise for the government to clear the air surrounding Mr. Manneh’s whereabouts.

The Gambia government needs all the international goodwill it can muster at this point in time. It should ensure that the relative goodwill it already enjoys is not eroded by any mishandling of this sensitive matter.

Chief Ebrima Manneh is not only a journalist; 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.

One thing that is very clear is that 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 should not just be seen as a media affair; it is a national matter, because he is a citizen of this country who has disappeared in mysterious circumstances, for five years now!

“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