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Widow claims Ex-Interior Minister Sonko repeatedly raped her

Oct 31, 2019, 12:45 PM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

A widow of former army lieutenant, late Almamo Manneh, who was killed for his alleged involvement in the coup attempt in January 2000, has told the TRRC how she repeatedly underwent rape and sexually harassment in the hands of the former Interior Minister –Ousman Sonko.

Born on 15 1968 in Banjul, Binta Jamba was raised in Tujereng Village on the Kombo South of West Coast Region. She attended Crab Island in 1986 and upon completion of her education, she enlisted into The Gambia Police Force in July 1986.

Appearing before TRRC through a Skype call, the US-based Gambian narrated in detailed how ex-Interior Minister Sonko used her as a sex object amid threats and this was after the demise of her late husband-Lt. Almamo Manneh

Jamba recalled that it all started after the mourning of her late husband and she resumed work, saying one day she received a phone call from the Ex- Interior Minister informing her to go to his office at State House.

She disclosed that upon arrival at the State House gate, a soldier was sent to usher her into Sonko’s Office within State House.

‘Upon entering his office at State House, he (Sonko) locked his office door and took out a brief case. He told me that he wanted to give me Almamo’s personal belongings, which includes Almamo’s bank book and compound documents’.

But to her surprise, the witness indicated that Sonko placed her hands on her shoulders, and began to kiss her and even told her to sit on his laps.

She alleged that the ex-Interior Minister forced to have sex with her in his office at State House and thereafter the same week and on a Friday, he visited her at their home and demanded to see her in her house.

‘While in my house, he placed his hands on my shoulder and later threw me on my bed, while he placed his pistol on my bed deck. He used to point his pistol at me and threatened me that I should not talk to the media, and that he did not want to see any man in my house. He forcefully raped me in my own house’.

The witness explained that Sonko always raped her and it became a routine practice and would go to her house every time he wanted.

This kind of nightmare, she explained went for one year and some months, adding that she later started to dodge from him especially on days she suspect that Sonko would go to her house.

‘But one day, as I was coming back from Banjul, I met with him at the Check Point at Denton Bridge and he asked me to alight from the car I was travelling on. After I alighted from that car, Sonko asked me to join his vehicle and he drove me back to Banjul and put me in a house. After a while, he locked me there and after two- three hours he came back to the room; removed his clothes and later told me to undress as well’.

She alleged that Sonko detained her in that room for a whole day and sexually abused her that night and left her there till around midday the following day.

Jamba narrated that Sonko later then sent an orderly to take her bread and ‘akara’ and a bottle of Fanta.

Continuing narrating her ordeal, Jamba said that she stayed in that house in Banjul following day and repeatedly had sex with him.

On whether she did anything to resist, she said she approached one of her bosses in the person of Lang Demba for her to be transferred.

She explained that she was later moved to Bakau, adding that Sonko followed at her at work and any after work places and marriage ceremonies as well.

While constantly monitoring her outings, she decided to go back to Lang Demba and requested for her to be taken to a far place as far as even Basse so that she would be free from the menace.

Jamba testified that she was later transferred to Amdalai and Sonko called her Director Nai Ceesay to know her whereabouts.

She recalled that she later met Benjamin Wilson, whom she said was a friend to her late husband (Almamo).

During her interaction with Benjamin Wilson, the latter asked her to go and apply for a visa and that he (Wilson) will assist her in the visa process.

She explained that she was later given a letter from the US Embassy in Banjul, which she took, to the UNHCR main office in Dakar to enable her seek asylum in USA.

Jamba told the commission she left The Gambia for US in 2003 and returned to The Gambia two years later.

She testified that despite her stay in the US and subsequent visit to The Gambia, Sonko continued to follow her and used her as a sex object.

While on a visit to the country, she alleged that it was one fine day when Sonko called her through her mother’s number.

She lamented that despite raping her repeatedly, Sonko would always caution her not to speak any journalist in the country.

In 2007, she visited The Gambia for the second time, but had to cut short her visit due to threats from Sonko.