Gambia’s Inspector General of Police, Mr. Yankuba Sonko was quoted last week to have told a local newspaper that missing journalist, Chief Ebrima B. Manneh “was seen in the United States of America.”
“As far as we are concerned, the latest information we received from Interpol is that he was seen in America, and that is it,” Sonko is quoted as saying.
Prompting an immediate reaction from the Manneh family. “My son cannot be in US. He was arrested by state security personnel, and that happened in broad daylight at his workplace,” Chief Manneh’s father Sarjo Manneh told JollofNews.
The 80-year-old was also quoted by The Point to have said: “What I would like to make clear is that my son Chief Manneh is not in the United States. Our belief is that he is in state custody.”
In the latest of reactions to the IGP’s comments, the Gambia Press Union said it is worried about it. And blame the police chief for failing to note the exact date Manneh travelled to the U.S.
“The Inspector General of Police however failed to state when exactly his organization received information from Interpol about Chief Ebrima Manneh and the exact date the missing journalist arrived in America,” the GPU said.
“It is up to the State to protect every life and property within the territorial jurisdiction of the country as it has creditably done recently in apprehending suspected murderers and assailants,” the GPU added.
However, the strongest of rejections of the Mr. Yankuba Sonko’s comments came from Chief’s father, Sarjo Mannen, who described the IGP Sonko stance as “entirely misleading and aimed at hiding the truth.”
“Why after years of denial they want to convince the world that my son is now in America? Their main objective is to discourage people from knowing the truth about the people responsible for his disappearance,” he told JollofNews’ Gambia bureau chief.
Late last year, Gambia’s former Justice Minister, Edward Gomez said Chief Manneh is “alive”, but failed to provide proofs and fall short of bowing to widespread international condemnations.
The Daily Observer reporter, Chief Ebrima is missing since July 7, 2006. He was reported to have been picked-up by Gambia’s security agents (plain clothed) from the offices of the paper in Bakau.
In an effort to unveil his whereabouts, West Africa’s leading press and free expression watchdog, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) filed and won a lawsuit against the Government of The Gambia at the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria.
The court ordered that Chief Manneh be released immediately, and be paid US$100,000 in compensation by the Gambia Government, a judgement yet to be adhered to.
The government had maintained that Chief is not in its custody and denied in many platforms of knowing the whereabouts of the breadwinner of the Manneh Family in Lamin, West Coast Region.
In April 2009, Gambia’s former Minister of Justice Marie Saine-Firdaus told lawmakers during a Question and Answer session that the Gambia government was aggrieved by the decision of the court, and has since set the political process in motion to take the matter to the next level and get the decision set aside.
By Modou S. Joof
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