Ndey Tapha Sosseh was reportedly blacklisted by Gambian authorities as someone who intends to destabilize the country.
A former president of the Gambia Press Union has made allegations that country’s foreign minister Mamadou Tangara has attempted to secure her extradition from Malian authorities on 3 occasions.
Tangara was a foreign minister under former dictator Yahya Jammeh who was later appointed the country’s permanent representative at the United Nations.
Ndey Tapha Sosseh, a former GPU president who has gotten into trouble with Jammeh on several occasions, said Tangara approached Malian authorities as an emissary of Jammeh to seek her extradition.
Sosseh was in Mali, the home of her husband, after she fled Gambia. She had taken some time as president of the GPU in exile during which was she very active in Gambian affairs.
“The minister of foreign affairs (Mamadou Tangara) met with the Malian foreign minister, first in Kampala in 2011, and told the foreign minister that President Jammeh was not happy with Mali because they were giving me a platform to destabilize Gambia,” said Sosseh before the Truth Commission on Thursday.
“He (Tangara) did not stop at that. He had this conversation with the (Malian foreign) minister again and he personally came to Mali to tell them that the President (Yahya Jammeh) wanted me extradited to the Gambia; that I was engaged in activities to destablise the Gambia… Malian foreign ministry told them they were not aware of my activities.”
According to Ndey, all 3 efforts were unsuccessful. But later the Malian foreign ministry invited her to inform her of the potential dangers she faces and warned her to be careful.
Sosseh hold a Malian passport in addition the Gambian one. She said after she left Gambia for Mali, her passport got expired and she need a new one. She reached out to a friend in Gambia but her efforts to get a new passport were frustrated and her friend almost got arrested.
Then she decided to get a Malian passport since her husband was a Malian. Sosseh said his friend in Gambia came to learn that she was blacklisted by the authorities.
“When he turned up (his friend at the immigration office), the person who was supposed to arrest him was his former student and told him, “do you know this woman and he said yes”. He told him you should leave because we have orders to arrest the person who comes to pick up the passport. She is on a blacklist,” said Ndey.
She said she made efforts later to get the passport through a lawyer friend of hers but he was told Ndey would pick the passport herself.
Sosseh also recounted several efforts by Gambian authorities at the time to get her deported. She said she was put on an international wanted persons list.
She was almost deported from Zimbabwe to Gambia if not for the intervention of the Malian authorities.
She said it was in fact published on local newspapers at the time that she was arrested in Zimbabwe and would be deported to the Gambia.
Ndey Tapha’s testimony is part of the TRRC’s institutional hearing on the media. Ndey returned to the Gambia after the fall of Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea. She briefly served as an adviser to the former communications minister Demba Ali Jawo. Media was the seriously suppressed under the former dictator who calls journalists “illegitimate sons of Africa”.
According to statistics from the GPU, over 140 incidents of arrests involving journalists occurred under Jammeh. Over 60 journalists were arrested and tortured or illegally detained, over half of the arrested journalists were not charged to court.
Two journalists were shot dead within the 22-year period and one disappeared with several incidents of reported torture cases.
The secretary general of the Gambia Press Union, Saikou Jammeh, has told the Commission on Monday that about 20% of Gambian journalists had been exiled by Jammeh as of 2009.