I was the only investigative reporter or journalist who risked his life when news emerged that Daba Marena (former Director of the National Intelligence Agency) and others escaped when their prison wagon was about to somersault three times while they were being transported to Janjanbureh prisons in April 2006. I traveled from Banjul to Janjanbureh, stopping at every police station and inquired whether there was any road accident reported within their juridiction. And the answer I got was the emphatic NO. I also made inquiries in the South Bank, traveling from Laminkoto to Banjul. But I got the same emphatic NO.
Upon return to Banjul, I sealed my investigation at the police headquarters where I shared my fundings with the Public Relations Officer. I explained to him that my findings contradicted content of the police press release on Daba and four other security officers.
“The press release was written at the president’s office and given to the police to sign and issue,” Supritendant Aziz Bojang confessed. What other choice do I have other than write a story on what had become one of the greatest mysteries in the Jammeh dictatorial rule? A system of governance that could neither account for illegally detained persons nor produce them.
I was engulfed with shock, disbelief and pain but I muster the courage to write what had proven to be one of the most difficult stories to tell. That is the daily life of a journalist – telling the untold, horrifying stories. Few days later, the story was allocated a space on Foroyaa newspaper under a pen name ABDOU YANKA. Those who followed the developments in the Gambia during those years would recall taking note of ABDOU YANKA on Foroyaa newspaper. I went along with the name in exile. It had since died on Foroyaa newspaper pages.
It pains me to the core to see some attention-seeking social media freaks stealing my hard-earned work. I could have lost my life while investigating the story in a very toxic post March 21st coup era. But I was prepared to take the bullet for those who could not tell their own stories. That’s the True Spirit of a journalist.
For God and Heaven sake, let no one steal my work because I won’t hesitate to defend what purely belongs to me alone. Please learn to give Caesar what belongs to him.
Yaya Dampha, Human Rights Journalist