After more than 14 years in the waiting, Gambians have finally known who killed Deyda Hydara, the Managing Editor and Co-proprietor of The Point Newspaper. Hydara was gunned down by unidentified assailants while driving his staff home in Kanifing on December 2004.
In his testimony at the Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Monday, Malick Jatta explained how he, Sanna Manjang and Alieu Jeng unloaded bullets on Mr. Hydara at night. Under the command of Captain Tumbul Tamba who was driving a Mercedes Benz taxi, they were asked to fire at Hydara. “Tumbul told us ‘gentlemen this is the idiot’ (referring to a rebel bent on destabilising the country),” Jatta told TRRC. Tamba repeatedly said “fire.” The witness said at first no one fired. He said more soldiers riding on taxis arrived at the scene.
Jatta said Yahya Jammeh later gave them money for accomplishing the mission to kill Deyda Hydara. “I was given an envelope containing dollars (D50,000),” he said.
Jatta would later realise that the former State Guard Commander, the late Kalifa Bajinka knew about the mission to kill Hydara. He said the assassin team left for Kanilai with the shooters not knowing the identity of their victim until the following day when Hydara’s murder was revealed. After hearing that Yahya Jammeh condemned the murder, he demanded to be removed from the killer squad. He would not forgive his senior officers for hoodwinking him into killing without a just cause.
The Jammeh funded assassin team based in Kanilai comprised of Tumbul Tamba (leader), Solo Bojang (deputy leader), Sanna Manjang, Malick Jatta and Alieu Jeng. The team started as a patrol team tasked with averting potential insurgency in the country. Its members took oath of secrecy, ordered to carry out orders without questions, do whatever the commander does and never discuss any operation amongst themselves.
The witness admitted the existence of other killer squads: Black Black, Black Scorpion and Jungulars. The trained commando witness said junior soldiers like him were used as tools of killing innocent citizens.
Mr. Jatta also admitted taking part in other deadly missions. This included the killings of Dawda Nyassi (former Liberian rebel) and Ndongo Mboob. Tamba shot Nyassi and asked Jatta, Manjang and Jeng to do the same.