Ex Gambia President, Yahya Jammeh, killed 10 Nigerians and dumped their bodies in a well, report says

Among the victims of Jammeh's dictatorial hold on Gambia were Nigerian migrants who perished in a well alongside those from other African nations.

Former Gambian ruler, Yahya Jammeh was regarded as a brutal dictator (AFP)

Former President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, allegedly ordered his elite guard to kill migrants “because security forces feared they were mercenaries coming to try to oust Jammeh”, Reuters reports in a recent story.

Gambian army officer, Lieutenant Malick Jatta, who testified before a truth commission on Monday, July 22, 2019, said he was a member of Jammeh’s elite killer squad known as the “Junglers”.

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.

Jatta also testified that he and two colleagues shot dead journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004 on orders from then-President Jammeh.

Jatta’s testimony is the first direct account of the previously unexplained killing. 

Hydara was a critic of Jammeh’s government and co-owner of the independent newspaper The Point.

He was killed on the outskirts of Gambia’s capital city of Banjul.

Jatta told the commission that on the day of Hydara’s murder, the leader of the mission, Captain Tumbul Tamba, Jatta and two other soldiers, Alieu Jen and Sana Manjang, picked up a car from Jammeh’s residence in the town of Kanifing.

“Tamba was speaking to Jammeh by phone,” Jatta told the Commission. “He was saying to him, ‘Yes Sir, Your Excellency.’”

“We met a car and Tamba, who was driving, said, ‘This is the idiot’(Hydara) and he ordered us to shoot. I shot at him...My colleagues Alieu Jeng and Sana Manjang also fired”, Jatta disclosed.

Jatta revealed that he was paid 50,000 dalasai ($1,000) for the hit job. 

He also said he only learned the following day that the target and victim had been Hydara.

Besides working for The Point, Hydara worked for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reporters Without Borders.

Tamba, the alleged leader of the hit squad, died several years ago. However, the whereabouts of Jeng and Manjang remain unknown, Reuters reports. 

Gambian investigators have also accused Jammeh of a number of other crimes, including ordering the killing in 2005 of about 50 migrants who he feared had come to overthrow him.

Most of their bodies were dumped down a well in neighbouring Senegal, the story states.

The victims included 44 Ghanaians, 10 Nigerians, two Senegalese, three Ivoirians and one Togolese.

They were killed because security forces feared they were mercenaries coming to try to oust Jammeh.

Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh was born on May 25, 1965. 

In July of 1994, Jammeh led a bloodless coup that toppled the government of Dawda Jawara.

He installed himself head of the military junta and ruled by decree until his election as civilian president in 1996.

Jammeh was re-elected president in 2001, 2006 and 2011.

He however lost the presidential vote of 2016 to Barrow.

Jammeh initially rejected the result of the election, preparing to stay in power a little longer until the threat of a West African force and diplomatic efforts from the continent's presidents, led by Nigeria's, negotiated a life in exile for him.

Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017, bringing an end to “22 years in power marked by extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances as well as the pilfering of state assets”.

Gambia’s Justice Minister said in March that Jammeh had personally stolen at least $362 million from the Gambian state during his presidency.

Members of Jammeh’s political party continue to deny accusations of human rights abuses and corruption leveled against him.

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