Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is unhappy about the way atrocities meted out to Ghanaians in The Gambia 16 years ago has been handled.

According to him, the Gambian authorities have not shown enough commitment to bring the perpetrators of the cruel acts in 2005, to justice.

This comes ahead of a virtual meeting among the Heads of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Wednesday over the military takeover in Guinea.

Gambian security forces in July 2005 arrested the migrants, who were bound for Europe, after their boat landed in the country, on suspicion of involvement in a coup attempt.

Subsequently, almost all the migrants, including about 44 Ghanaians were killed.

Amid growing evidence that the murders were on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh, there have been calls for an international investigation of the massacre.

In his statement, Mr Ablakwa has called on President Akufo-Addo who doubles as the ECOWAS Chairman to use Wednesday’s forum to call out the Gambian President, Adama Barrow on the steps taken so far to bring justice to the Ghanaian families affected by the incident.

“ECOWAS led by our President, Nana Akufo-Addo who has direct responsibility to account to the Ghanaian people, on steps he is taking to bring Jammeh to justice, ought to make clear to Gambia’s President Adama Barrow at today’s meeting, that Ghana and the international community would not accept the opportunistic back-stabbing manoeuvres in Banjul ultimately aimed at shielding Yahya Jammeh,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s (TRRC) final report is expected to be ready this month.

On the unrest in Guinea, Samuel Okudzto Ablakwa believes that energies must be channeled into passing a resolution “demanding a reversal of the numerous self-serving mutilation of constitutions which has led to a wave of third-termism and the removal of constitutional term limits.”

Below is his statement:

As ECOWAS leaders hold a virtual meeting today on the political situation in Guinea, it is essential that the West African Presidents do not lose sight of the fact that another coup was on that same Sunday (September 5, 2021) staged — this time in The Gambia. It was a coup d’état against the countless victims of Yahya Jammeh’s atrocities and grave human rights violations. Ghana was the worst affected by this coup.

The coup occurred with Sunday’s announcement by the Secretary-General of Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, at a news conference in Banjul that his party had reached an agreement with current President Adama Barrow’s National Peoples Party (NPP) to support him in the December 4 presidential election.

This marriage with the devil constitutes such a cruel betrayal of all human rights activists who were given the highest assurances by President Barrow that Jammeh will be brought to justice.

Prominent in the tall list of Jammeh victims are the 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians brutally murdered in July 2005 by Yahya Jammeh’s execution squad who only recently openly admitted to their crimes at Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). The TRRC’s final report had been eagerly expected this month.

Yahya Jammeh, the bloodstained dictator who ruled with an iron fist for 22 years, is seeking immunity and a clandestine safe passage back to The Gambia from Equatorial Guinea, where he has taken refuge since he was ousted by ECOWAS troops in 2017 after refusing to concede electoral defeat.

It is important to emphasize that transcripts I have reviewed reveal that Lieutenant Malick Jatta and Corporal Omar A. Jallow confessed to Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that the migrants were executed by the “Junglers” squad, a paramilitary force that took orders from Jammeh, across the Gambian border in Senegalese territory. “We were told they were mercenaries,” Jatta said, adding that he shot and killed one of the migrants.

“I heard people shouting in the forest saying ‘save us, Jesus.’” Jallow told the TRRC that Lt. Col. Solo Bojang, the leader of the operation, informed the men that “the order from Yahya Jammeh is that they are all to be executed.”

The current Chairman of ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo, was Ghana’s Foreign Minister when our compatriots were gruesomely murdered so he must be very familiar with this matter.

It must be recalled that Ghana and the Gambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 2nd July 2009 in Sirte, Libya, under the auspices of ECOWAS and UN. The two countries pledged, among other things, to bring the actual perpetrators of the massacre to justice if new evidence emerges providing a prima facie case against the alleged perpetrators.

Thanks to the work of Gambia’s TRRC, new evidence is now available to bring the rogue president who accorded himself dubious credentials ranging from Professor, Sheikh, Alhaji, Doctor, AIDS Healer and Babili Mansa to manifest justice.

ECOWAS led by our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who has direct responsibility to account to the Ghanaian people on steps he is taking to bring Jammeh to justice, ought to make clear to Gambia’s President Adama Barrow at today’s meeting that Ghana and the international community would not accept the opportunistic back-stabbing manoeuvres in Banjul ultimately aimed at shielding Yahya Jammeh.

While at that, it is also the expectation of many Africans that rather than the focus on sanctioning Guinea, a resolution should be passed demanding a reversal of the numerous self-serving mutilation of constitutions which has led to a wave of third-termism and the removal of constitutional term limits.

Only frank and sincere deliberations will put West Africa and the entire African continent on a sustainable path of peace and prosperity.

#JammehToJustice

#56WestAfricans44GhanaiansDeserveJustice

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
[MP, North Tongu
Ranking Member, Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs]



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