The remains of three men who took part in the Presidential Palace’s attack in 2014 have been handed over on Wednesday to their respective families. They were part of the group of armed men led by former army lieutenant Lamin Sanneh that launched on December 30th a major assault against Gambia Presidency, which led to the death of three of the assailants.
“This ceremony, which takes place in the context of our transitional justice process, serves as a demonstration of our belief in upholding human dignity and the principle of basic human decency,” said Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou during a handing over ceremony held at the Attorney General’s Chambers in Banjul.
Forensic experts from the police uncovered on March 2017 six bodies that were secretly buried in the Fonis (about 80 km from Banjul) including one American of Gambian descent killed by Yahya Jammeh’s loyalists during the said attack. The three coffins that were turned over to families contain the mortal remains of former Lieutenant Colonel Lamin Sanneh of the Gambia Armed Forces, who once headed the State Guards Battalion, retired Captain Njagga Jagne of the US Army and Alhagie Nyass, a former member of the Gendarmerie – a Senegambian confederal force.
Tambadou said that every individual ought to be offered a decentt and befitting burial, adding that it is only through this process that their dignity will be preserved and provide closure for their families friends and loved ones.
“As a government, we are committed to establishing the truth about all disappeared victims in The Gambia,” he reiterated.
He cleared air over the body of United Democratic Party (UDP) activist, Ebrima Solo Sandeng, saying his remains could not be rendered to the family because of the ongoing trial involving former officials of the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Yahya Jammeh’s two-decade long rule was marked by arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. The new authorities have promised to shed light on the human rights abuses committed under the previous regime.
Justice Minister further stated that gov’t will continue the exhumation of individuals buried under sinister circumstances through the work of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that has started its sittings last Monday.
Austin-based estate developer Cherno Njie, who spoke to this medium said the ceremony provide an opportunity to pay homage to the fallen heroes.
The ‘financier’ of the Dec.30th coup went on to say these are people who left their comfort in the United States, joined up together in order to put an to a brutal dictatorship.
“They came together to fight and bring an end to that dictatorship,” he insisted.
Njie, who is also one of the founding members of the victims’ center, made it clear that the struggle for human rights is not yet over.
The Chairperson of Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations (GCVHRV), Sheriff Kijera, said the three men paid the ultimate price.
“We recognise their act of heroism, their bravery and sacrifices,” he remarked. “We stand in solidarity with their families, loved ones and friends.”
He commended the government of The Gambia for fulfilling one of its obligations.
Kijera then urged authorities look into the cases of journalist Chief Ebrima Manner and UDP member Kaniba Kanyi who went missing since 2006.
Similar sentiments were reechoed by Victms’ Center’s Ajie Mammie Ceesay who called on government to build a permanent memorial to honour the fallen heroes and all those who sacrificed their life for democracy to triumph in The Gambia.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN