Lead Counsel Essa Faal has informed the TRRC about what he called a “phone conversation” that transpired between an unknown former close associate of Yahya Jammeh and the widow wife of the late Lamin Tunkara, Adama Conteh. That undisclosed former Jammeh associate caller was retired former army captain and junta spokesman retired Captain Ebou Jallow. Faal said Jallow had phoned Ms. Conteh hours before her TRRC scheduled testimony, a move, he deems as questionable.
“Mr. Chair, before the witness is discharged or released, I just wish to say that some agent of or somebody close to Yahya Jammeh has called the witness and has offered some words of consolation. I do not want to speculate, but anything beyond basic and bonafide consolation may bother on interference on the witness or perhaps even intimidation. So, I warn whosoever is involved to desist from such activities. A lot of contemptuous activity has been committed against the commission, the commission had consistently disregarded these activities and moved on with the noble work that it is doing for The Gambian people. I do hope that the person concerned would bear this in mind and exercise greatest discretion and avoid things that would be contrary or offensive to the laws of this country. I want to leave it at that,” Faal told the commission on Monday.
In response, Commission Chairman Dr. Lamin Sise said: “Thank you very counsel. You said that somebody close to Yahya Jammeh, well did he indicate that he was speaking on behalf of Yahya Jammeh? Faal responded in the negative. “No” he said.
Sise retorted: “Okay.”
Faal then interjected: “If the person did, I would have said so, and from what I know the person offered words of consolation, that is not against the law, but of course, if a gang leader kills your father, and the associate of the gang leader calls you at the eve of your testimony before the commission and tries to offer words of consolation, that is questionable.”
Reacting to Faal’s statement Ebou Jallow wrote on his Facebook page: “For the records, I was the one that contacted Lamin Tunkara’s wife last Friday without even knowing she was going to testify at the TRRC today. Although I was very sympathetic to her plight but I never offered any “consolation” to her; and yes she told me exactly what I wanted to know about her late husband. LOL, let Essa go fvck himself and stop spreading lies and innuendos. I AM NOT an “associate of Jammeh” as he tries to characterize me but a patriotic citizen who is searching for the truth in order to bring peace in my motherland.”
Speaking to the Freedom Newspaper, Mr. Jallow said he got Ms. Conteh’s phone number from a Gambian lady, who was attending an occasion at the victims center this past week. The lady in question, according to Jallow, is a Jammeh victim, who has submitted her statement with the commission.
Jallow then traded number with the Mrs. Conteh. He said the lady called him from a different number over the weekend, and they had a brief conversation. He added that he hasn’t said anything out of the ordinary that could be deemed as trying to coerce a TRRC witness.
“I feel sorry for that lady. I couldn’t stay long on the phone with her. We spoke from a different phone number. That was not the number I earlier contacted her. I suspect that they were listening to our conversation,” he said.
Jallow said he has no ties with Jammeh. He has also not been talking to his former council colleague.
He broke into laughter amid Faal’s proposition suggesting “if a gang leader kills your father, and the associate of the gang leader calls you at the eve of your testimony before the commission and tries to offer words of consolation, that is questionable.”
Jallow said Faal’s remarks were inappropriate and misleading. He has denied being part of any Jammeh gang as implied by Faal.
Jallow also said there was nothing shady or malicious about his call to Tukara’s widow wife.