Former CDS and minister for Interior, Retired Colonel Babucar Jatta in his TRRC testimony on the 2005 West African migrants’ incident, stated that the matter was a state-ordered-execution handled by the soldiers and sanctioned by former president, Yahya Jammeh.
The retired army chief yesterday explained that during the arrival of the West African migrants, there was a musical festival held at McCarthy Square with the president, ministers and other senior government officials in attendance. He told the commission that as the show continued and after 12 p.m., the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ousman Sonko came and informed him about the arrest of migrants in Barra. He added that was the time he went and knelt under the president and informed him about the matter.
Colonel Jatta confirmed that the arrestees didn’t carry any weapon, saying if they wanted to take over the Barra Station, they could simply have done so because of their number. He added that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers were later deployed to Barra Police Station to take in charge of the arrestees.
“The following day, I spoke to the director general of the NIA, Daba Marena, who confirmed to me that the arrestees were migrants. I told him if they had the ECOWAS protocol they need to return to their respective countries.”
The witness further stated that during the same week, he was informed by the IGP that dead bodies were found in Ghana Town but he (Jatta) never visited the scene.
“We discussed to evacuate the dead bodies to the hospital and see if there could be any document to get from them. On that Monday, I had a meeting with the service chiefs in my office and we were worried about the remaining migrants because something must have gone wrong.”
He continued that he ordered the IGP to investigate the matter but to no avail, saying he even suspected the IGP as regards the issue.
Col. Jatta further testified that the NIA was responsible for investigating the matter and when he asked Daba Marena, he was told they had some information to verify and the migrants would be released. He told the commission that the arrestees were not under the custody of the police, instead the NIA.
In an interview with Journalist Omar Wally, Mr. Jatta indicated that the migrants were deported back to their respective countries. However, the witness told the commission that he lied to Omar and said the migrants were executed in Gambia.
Jatta revealed that the Ghana’s Foreign Affairs minister came to The Gambia, demanding a joint investigation by the Ghanaian and Gambian authorities and appealed for a release of other Ghanaians who were under police custody but that didn’t materialise. He added that the government of The Gambia covered up and denied the allegations.