LAMIN CHAM SHOULD RECHECK HIS RECORDS
I have listened to the testimony of Mr. Lamin Cham before the TRRC. I agreed with him when he mentioned that journalists were the most targeted professional body during Yaya Jammeh’s 22 years rule. I stand with him and his family for the pain and agony they had gone through during his arrest and torture. Like him, I also happened to be a victim of brutality.
In as much as the testimony of Lamin Cham was based on factual account, I think he exaggerated when he mentioned that I was critical of Deyda Hydara and as a result of that Deyda was killed shortly after. I want to mention on record here that I was never critical of Deyda. What happened was that Deyda condemned the statement that I had made at a public forum that was organized by Nene Macdoll then of GRTS. I objected to the heading used by Deyda in his column which I thought was a personal attack on my personality. I wrote to the Point and draw the attention of Dayda about his attack on my personality and further suggested to him how the heading of his piece should have been that would not affect my personality. Deyda was honourable enough to publish my reaction in the Point. However, he wrote back to defend his point and I responded with another reaction. My exchange with Deyda was more of an academic debate pertaining to how the heading of the piece he wrote about me, was supposed to be like. I was never critical of Deyda Hydara. In fact after all our exchanges on the newspaper, Deyda and I warmly shook hands when we met at a reception organized by the American Embassy in Fajara. We laughed over the exchanges that we had been having. I had never called Deyda by name. I often called him ‘Koto’.
Another clarification I wish to make is that my exchanges with Deyda which Lamin Cham referred to as being critical happened several months before the killing of Deyda. Deyda was killed on 16 December 2004. By the time of the death of Deyda, I was not the public relations officer. I was on a peacekeeping mission in Liberia. I left the Gambia for Liberia on 27 May 2004 and was there until 27 May 2005.
My exchanges with Deyda Hydara could not have instigated the killing of Deyda Hydara. Those who killed Deyda had their own motives. Until the killers of Deyda are brought forward to explain the motives for killing him, whatever motive anyone alludes will be mere speculative. I have great respect for some journalists in this country and Deyda was one of them. The TRRC is a truth finding commission. It is not meant for a smear campaign in trying to frame innocent people for something that they know nothing about or do not have any connection. I did not even attend the press conference that Lamin Cham talked about.
The truth will set us free.
CAPTAIN BUNJA DARBOE, GAMBIA ARMY.