By Buba Gagigo
The former Head of Investigation Unit at the NIA, Aziz Hydara, during his testimony at TRRC on Wednesday said that the Minister of Interior Yankuba Sonko and former Director of Operations at NIA [current Director of Operations at Drug Law Enforcement Agency] Ebrima Jim Drammeh supervised the falsification of dairies containing entries of the West African migrants.
The witness said Sonko committed the act while occupying the position of the Crimes Management Coordinator at The Gambia Police Force; and Drammeh while serving as Director of Operations at the National Intelligence Agency.
Aziz appeared at the truth commission in connection to his involvement in the taskforce which assisted ECOWAS/ UN investigators in digging into the killing in 2005 of the more than 50 West African migrants.
But Hydara denied being part of the taskforce, saying, “I was not part of the taskforce as explained. We were a supporting team to the UN/ ECOWAS investigators.”
According to the witness, Aziz, as Head of Investigation Unit of the NIA, he was contacted by Ebrima Drammeh alias Jim Drammeh to be part of the taskforce; and they met at Yankuba Sonko’s office, as Crimes Management Coordinator. While at the said office, he said they were briefed that there would be UN/ECOWAS joint investigations into the killings. He then said that Malamin Ceesay; Numo Kujabi; Ebrima Jim Drammeh; Nfally Jabang; Yankuba Sonko were also present at the said meeting.
At the meeting, he said they were told that the investigators should be assisted by them; but they ended up copying records bearing details of the migrants.
“I later understood that the whole essence was to make a cover-up. Why I said this is because I’m not aware of bringing any documents. We were advised to be doing our meetings in the late evening at Kairaba Police Station. Actually, it came to me as a very big surprise, as we were copying dairies,” he disclosed.
Then, Counsel Faal asked him who was present during the re-writing of those dairies. “Yankuba Sonko; Malamin Ceesay; Numo Kujabi; and Nfally Jabang,” the witness replied.
Faal further quizzed the witness, if he knows which dairies were copied. “I know all that was in those dairies were transferred to the new dairy,” he responded.
The witness said “there was a massive cover-up of the former regime”, then the Lead Counsel questioned: Are you sure that what you are saying happened?
“It happened at the Kairaba Station, and sometimes we went there on weekends,” the witness responded, adding that their exercise was a ‘falsification of documents’.
At that juncture, Faal told him that the Minister of Interior, Yankuba Sonko testified before the commission and said he [Sonko] was not aware that the dairies were doctored, but Hydara said that testimony of Minister Sonko “is untrue”.
The witness said prior to his appearance at the commission, Minister Sonko advised him to tell the truth to the commission and that’s what he was doing before the commission.
In 2005, more than 50 migrants from different countries in West Africa were killed in different locations in The Gambia. The migrants mainly Ghanaians were brutally killed on the order of former President Jammeh, according to perpetrator witnesses [junglers]. But until this moment, the manner and reasons for killings were not made public. But with the commission, the whole truth about the incident is expected to come to light, as witnesses continue to reveal nitty-gritty information of the heinous crime committed.