Former President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has been accused of allegedly ordered the killing of 59 West African migrants, including nine Nigerians.
“Testimony before Gambia’s The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) implicated the former president in the killings,” Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International said in a statement.
The truth commission was set up by President Adama Barrow’s government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings under Jammeh who now lived in exile in Equatorial Guinea since his departure from the Gambia in January 2017.
Witnesses told the Gambia Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that migrants bound for Europe from Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, plus their Gambian contact, were held by Jammeh’s top lieutenants in the security services before being murdered by the ‘Junglers,” a notorious paramilitary unit that took its orders directly from Jammeh.
One of those men was Paul Omozemoje Enagameh of Nigeria, whose brother, Kehinde Enagameh, was among those killed, according to a Nigerian investigation carried out in 2008. Another Nigerian, John Amase, was identified at the recent hearings. The other seven Nigerians have not been identified.
After allegedly speaking with Jammeh, Sonko was said to have instructed officers to ferry the migrants, who were suspected of being mercenaries, coming to try to oust Jammeh.
All the Gambian security chiefs were said to have then converged on the naval headquarters, as did several Junglers, who beat and kicked the migrants and “treated them like animals”.
“Several officers said that it was already clear that the men and two women were migrants and not mercenaries, as they carried no weapons or anything suspicious. The migrants were then allegedly distributed to various detention centers around Banjul,” the rights group added.
“The exposed bodies of the first group of eight migrants were found the next morning, July 23, 2005, near Ghana Town, a settlement of Ghanaian descendants in Brufut, just outside Banjul.
“Amady Jallow, the then-crime management coordinator, testified that the bodies showed signs of bad beatings, their skulls broken in, blood and brains oozing out.”
Jallow reportedly said he was informed years later by another police officer that an additional nine Nigerians had been buried in a mass grave near the place he saw the exposed bodies.
In July 2019, three former Junglers, who are serving members of the Gambian National Army, testified that they and 12 others carried out those killings on Jammeh’s orders.
They also listed a series of assassinations they carried out on Jammeh’s orders and said they “never operated on anything that is their own orders or will, all the orders come from the top (Jammeh).”