Widow points fingers at Jammeh over spouse disappearance

Oct 30, 2020, 11:46 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Isatou Kanyi, a widow to late Kanyiba Kanyi of Bonto village yesterday testified before the TRRC, explaining how security officers and former President Yahya Jammeh contributed to the arrest and disappearance of her husband.

Isatou told the commission that her late husband Kanyiba was a famous person who loved everybody and many in turned loved him. According to her, he was involved in politics and he was a strong supporter of the United Democratic Party (UDP). 

On 17 September 2006, she testified that her late husband narrated that he went to Sohm village for work and stumbled on an APRC meeting which was led by Chief Basiru. He added that her husband further narrated that when Jung Conteh saw him, he spoke to Babucar Jatta, the then Interior minister that he (Kanyiba) is the only person who disturbed them in their politics.

She added that confrontation caused Kanyiba sufferings because Babucar complained to his boss Kasel that Kanyiba could be arrested anytime. 

"One Karamba Jammeh once came and told me that there was a big meeting in my husband's work place in Faraba, which my husband attended. After some hours I saw him with his co workers have lunch and he hinted me that he was informed that he could be arrested at any moment. My late husband was later suspended from work for two weeks."

She further stated that after that, someone came to their house asking for Karabulie who works at Christian Children Fund but she told him they didn't have any name like that.

The witness continued to testify that one evening; between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., she was chatting with her younger sister and Kanyiba, all of a sudden, a taxi without a number plate parked. 

"One person came and said he was asking for Kanyiba and my late husband replied and asked him who he was? He replied that he was Camara. Kanyiba was arrested and taken to Mandinaba, saying they wanted to question him about monetary issues. One of the officers who dressed like a paramilitary told Kanyiba that if he was a man, then they will know. At that time everybody was crying in our compound."

The witness explained that after Kanyiba's arrest, they called his mobile but it rang once and was later off. She added that she later called Sheriff Fofana and informed him about Kanyiba's arrest, who said he would inform the party leader of UDP, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. 

She told the commission that after arresting Kanyiba, another team came to the house, searching for Kanyiba.

"We told them he was arrested but they didn’t believe us. They took Wandifa (Kanyiba’s brother) along because they didn’t believe we were speaking the truth. But when they reached at Bandinaba, they realised that Kanyiba was arrested but they still took Wandifa to NIA Headquarters in Banjul for a day and released him."

At the time of arresting his late husband, she explained that she was three months pregnant.

"We thought that after election they would have released Kanyiba but that never happened and the matter was taken to court and the judge passed a judgment, saying no one should keep someone in custody for that long. The government’s lawyer kept telling us that Kanyiba wasn't in their custody."

"One day I heard Jammeh say on the television that people alleged him of killing Chief Manneh and Kanyiba Kanyi, claiming he didn’t know their whereabouts."

Isatou said she suspected Yahya Jammeh for playing part on her late husband's arrest and disappearance.

She stated that she later gave birth to Abdusallam Kanyi, adding that the child on several occasions asked about his father but she would make him believe he travelled but he (Abdusallam) later got to know the truth that his father was arrested.

"There was a time Yahya Jammeh was to pardon some prisoners and Kanyiba's brother went there but couldn't see him. When the new government came in 2006, I was asked to give my statement and they promised to check all the detention centers. They searched but couldn't see him and that was the time we believed that Kanyiba was killed. We also believed that sorrow killed his (Kanyiba's) father and brother."