By Buba Gagigo
Emmanuel Daniel Joof told the Truth Commission that the year 2000 students massacred was a ‘dark day’ in The Gambia.
The lawyer added that the late Ebrima Barry, the student, was maltreated by some officers of the Fire & Rescue Service leading to his death, while a student girl was allegedly raped by certain paramilitary officers in Bakau.
Joof appeared before the Commission last week in connection to the interest and work he did as a young lawyer in the early days of his practice under former President Jammeh’s government. He said as a Magistrate at the time, he encountered the cases of Farafenni and the Chief of Kwenala.
The witness told the Commission that immediately the massacre of the students happened, they quickly summoned a meeting and among those present were Adelaide Sosseh, Satang Jobarteh, Baa Tambedou, Fatou Jangne-Senghore and a host of others. He said during the meeting, they held a press conference and then came up with a statement.
They further filed a Habeas corpus (produce the body death or alive) in the High Court for the arrested students to be produced.
“Justice Mam Yassin Sey, gave an order for all students held incommunicado be released. Justice Sey would later face the consequences because the state failed to pay her bills and disconnected her electricity,” he said
The witness further testified that one evening, he went with Abubacarr Baa Tambadou to Omar Joof’s compound, the then head of the Students’ Union. And one of the things they requested as a coalition was for the government to have an independent commission of inquiry to compensate families of victims and also provide medical treatment for those injured. He added that the commission of inquiry was later established to probe issues surrounding the massacre. Soon after the Commission recommended for Prosecutions, the government came up with an Indemnity Act, which was declared as Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, headed by Hassan B Jallow, Joof said. He alleged that the Jammeh government tried to seal the perpetrators and attempted to fire the Judge but this wasn’t possible for them. The witness added that during his interactions with Alieu Tine of RADDHO, he [Alieu Tine] disclosed to him that one of their members went to Dakar to get Omar Joof back to The Gambia.
“This made us understand that their group was compromised,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel Daniel Joof is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of The Gambia. He is currently the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Joof in the past chaired the Faraba Banta Commission of Inquiry.