There is this one internationally documented arrest that was made by Jammeh’s security agents back in 2007 and was not reported by The Gambia Press Union Secretary General Saikou Jammeh, during his testimony to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). It has to do with the arrest of Sheriff Bojang jrn, the current President of the GPU. Mr. Bojang was deported from the United Kingdom in 2007 and was arrested on arrival at the Banjul international airport. He was held for hours before he was released and asked to report to the offices of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, the following day. Bojang proceeded to his Brikama family home upon his release from custody. He fled to neighboring Senegal, the next day, where he stayed on exile, until the change of government in December of 2016.
Against this backdrop, it is imperative to note that Sheriff Bojang jr, was the first known Gambian exile to have ever been deported by a Western country. His case had attracted an international outcry.
Despite repeated pleas and interventions by Amnesty international and other right groups, including The Gambian diasporan community activists at the time for the UK Home Office to stay Mr. Bojang’s deportation, notwithstanding, such pleas had fallen into deaf ears. Bojang was forcefully deported to his native country, The Gambia, at the peak of Jammeh’s dictatorship.
It is mind boggling and also unbelievable that the GPU SG Saikou Jammeh, can exclude the name of Sheriff Bojang jr, on that list of over 140 arrested Gambian journalists, whom he says, were detained during Jammeh’s two decades long rule. We are not sure as to whether this was an honest mistake on Saikou’s part; or was it a deliberate attempt to conceal Sheriff’s past encounter with the Jammeh dictatorship. There were other past arrest of journalists that never made it to his list.
It is important to note that Saikou Jammeh has told the TRRC that the list he shared with the Commission was compiled by the GPU, following a thorough research on the past arrest of journalists carried out by the Jammeh administration. How comes that he failed to report the arrest of his boss Sheriff Bojang jr?
The GPU’s failure to disclose Sheriff’s past arrest by Jammeh’s security agents, would only attract speculations. It is no shame to report to the TRRC that their own President was a deportee from the UK. It is also no shame to report to the TRRC that Bojang was arrested on arrival in Banjul.
The circumstances surrounding Sheriff Bojang jr’s deportation from the UK, can only be revealed by Mr. Bojang himself. We deem it imperative to bring this important piece of information to the attention of The Gambian public since Saikou Jammeh is not reporting it.
We have also followed the testimony of Lamin Cham. Cham talked about the sale of the Daily Observer during his testimony. He said it was Amadou Samba, who bought the paper from Kenneth Y Best, a veteran Liberian journalist. He failed to mention in his testimony that Sheriff Bojang, was the main conduit between Mr. Samba and Mr. Best. Sheriff facilitated the sale of the Daily Observer. Samba was a front man for Jammeh to purchase the paper.
Per revelations from the Janneh Commission, Gambian government taxpayers money was used to purchase the Daily Observer from Mr. Best. This was well documented by the Janneh Commission.
Cham also testified about the editorial staffers, who got fired from the Daily Observer. He mentioned the name of Demba Ali Jawo. He also said Baba Galleh Jallow resigned from the Daily Observer to form the Independent. He failed to mention in his testimony that both Pa Nderry M’Bai and Journalist Alieu Badara Sowe, were fired, following the change of ownership at the Daily Observer.
Lamin Cham works for Sheriff Bojang’s Standard Newspaper. We have great respect for Cham. We deem it imperative to point out this important information Cham failed to mention in regards to the sale of the Daily Observer during his testimony. We rest our case!