Pape Saine has told the Truth Commission on Thursday that his friend and business partner Deyda Hydara has been killed by state operatives on orders of former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
On the night of the 13th anniversary of the establishment of The Point, the country’s first tabloid-style newspaper jointly set up by Pap Saine, Deyda Hydara and Baboucarr Gaye, Hydara was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in New Jeshwang, a few hundred metres away from a major police station.
He was in the company of two of his staff Ida Jagne, a typist – lives in Kanifing Industrial Estate and Niansarang Jobe, a layout editor – lives in Kanifing South. Latter sustained wounds and was briefly admitted at RVTH before they were taken to Dakar where surgery was performed on her leg, and a bullet removed from her knee.
His long-term friend Saine said he has not doubt that Hydara was killed his for stance on defending press freedom in the Gambia and his critical newspaper commentaries against Jammeh.
“He sacrificed his life for media freedom…,” said Saine. “There is no doubt that it was Jammeh’s junglers who killed Deyda… Nobody can dispute that…”
As a founding member and former president of the Gambia Press Union, Deyda was a strong advocate of press freedom and media professionalism. As a journalist, he was critical of the government. His Good Morning Mr President column became popular for its daily criticisms of the policies of the government.
Deyda’s killing came after he successfully led a campaign by the GPU in challenging the introduction of a National Media Commission with muzzling powers. The government repealed the Act only to amend the Criminal Code and Newspaper Registration Act, 1933. Deyda, in his column, vowed to challenge the amendments. Two days later, he was shot and killed.
After the killing, the government failed to properly investigate the matter. President Jammeh had also made some wild speculations about the nature and motive for the killing. The government had many times promised to allow independent investigators in the country but never did.
On the first anniversary of the killing of Deyda, the journalists were prevented by police from merely marching to the site of the shooting.
The president, Yahya Jammeh, had complained about the Who Killed Deyda question on The Point. He had also complained that Deyda all the time – he was not the only Gambian to have been killed. The NIA had also instructed the editors to discontinue the Good Morning Mr President column.
Meanwhile, the administration of President Adama Barrow has in 2017 issued an arrest warrant for Sanna Manjang and Kawsu Camara, two state operatives alleged to have murdered Hydara.
The Deyda murder case was never properly investigated by Gambian authorities. When the sons of Deyda filed a suit against the government for failing to investigate the matter, the government claimed that they did investigate the killing.
However, the Ecowas court made a ruling in favour of the plaintiffs – Deyda Hydara Jr., Ismaila Hydara and International Federation of Journalists and ordered the government to pay compensation and investigate the killing. The Jammeh government refused to implement the ruling.
But the Barrow administration now paid the compensation of US$50000 equivalent in dalasi to the Hydara family.
“We are appealing to this Government to conduct fresh allegations in order to establish full circumstances surrounding his death.