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TRRC visits Kanilai crocodile ponds, suspected mass graves

May 24, 2021, 11:49 AM | Article By: Mamadou Dem

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), on 21st May 2021, visited numerous places in Foni, including the birth place of former president Yahya Jammeh, Kanilai village, Foni Kansala District.

The commission through its Investigation Unit painstakingly searched for suspected mass graves of people that were extra judicially killed and buried by the ‘junglers’ within the Fonis.   

In its quest to establish the truth, the Commission headed by Chairman Dr. Lamin J. Sise, the legal team, Research and Investigations Unit (RIU), Communications Team and other support staff visited the Santang-Ba Forest, where business mogul, late Abdoulie Gaye and Tumani Jallow, former soldier of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) are presumably buried in a mass grave.

Earlier the commission had visited a swampy area surrounded with mangroves led by Jungler Omar Jallow alias Oya to ascertain or establish the whereabouts of one of the migrants that escaped, but was later apprehended and summarily executed by Sanna Manjang and Oya respectively and was subsequently buried by the villagers.      

The next place the Commission visited was the Tintiba Firing Range in Bunubor where Jaja Nyass, Lamin Sanneh, former State Guard Commander and Njaga Jagne (30th December, 2014 attackers) were buried but subsequently got exhumed by police under the Barrow government.

Thereafter, the Commission headed to Kafenda deep into the bushes therein, with a big perimeter fence believed to be three Kilometers long and had a well where they executed nine Mile 2 inmates and where Daba Marena and co were buried. Malick Jatta, another jungler testified and confessed to the Commission in 2019 that he participated in the killings. He however could not identify or trace the said well purported to be in Cassamance territory.

According to Malang Saidy, supervisor of the crocodile ponds at Kanilai and Wildlife representative, there are 250 species of crocodiles in Pond 1 ranging from alligators and rangers.

He said the pond was three meters deep and the crocodiles are fed with fish because they were told during training that constantly feeding them with meat would make them aggressive and easily attack people.

Responding to questions from Lead Counsel Essa Faal and the commissioners, chairman included, Saidy confirmed that there were crocodiles brought from South Africa and Guinea Bissau all of which are in Pond 1.

However, he said he had never seen someone feeding them with human remains; adding that it is not possible for the crocodiles to be fed without their knowledge.

Mr. Omar Jallow also testified in 2019 and confessed to the commission that Mamud Ceesay and Ebou Jobe were also killed and buried within Kanilai. However, excavations from TRRC investigators and forensics proved futile as neither the two Gambian Americans, nor Ma Hawa Cham or Saul Ndow's remains could be found. In spite of that, Jammeh's own henchman, confirmed to the Commission that he participated in the burial of the two Gambian Americans.

Prior to that, Wildlife representative in Kanilai explained to the Commission that the second Pond of crocodiles (Pond 2) has about 50 crocodiles which also survive on fish. 

Earlier, the commission visited the NIA Detention Center in Tanji, also known as NIA Coastal Command where Ebrima Solo Sandeng of blessed memory was buried but the remains of his body was exhumed by forensics experts in 2017.  Other places visited included the former president’s palace at his native village.

It has been observed as per the evidence before the TRRC, that Yahya Jammeh could deal with anyone who attempted to remove him from his position as President or challenge his authority either by summarily executing that person or persons through his henchmen or unlawfully detain them incommunicado with the subject suffering massive tortures and abuse by the NIA, Prison Wardens and junglers among others.

He continued to live lavishly by erecting four different standard dormitories to sleep on at will, and also installed air-conditioning for his luxury vehicles as evidenced by his car parked in Kanilai showcased while on tour of his premises; thereby leaving the majority of the citizens to wallow in abject poverty, with some finding it difficult to afford three meals a day.

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