Mystery of what happened to corpse of Almamo Manneh still remains unresolved, twenty years to his death.
Described a gallant soldier, Almamo was one of uniformed officers of the Gambia Armed Forces attached to Gambia’s presidency shortly after the 1994 bloodless coup that installed Jammeh as chairman who would later turn an elected head of state.
Six months from the first successful coup, he is reported to have cocked a gun in the mouth of orderly Baboucarr Njie (Njie Ponakal) after Jammeh grew suspicious of Sana B. Sabally and ordered his detention, trial and subsequent incarceration for nine years.
That blip aside, Almamo had been labelled a loyal soldier and not much was heard of his influence in Jammeh’s regime until news of his passing in the year 2000.
Close research about how he died reveals shocking insight of a then existing government sponsored machinations.
He was tagged for plotting to uninstall Yaya Jammeh’s six-year-old leadership following the surface of a leaked conversation roping him as being part of a disgruntled few soldiers.
The tape, recorded by Ousman Sonko, later morphing into the country’s interior minister – was played to the hearing of Maliya Mungu (Musa Jammeh now late), Abdoulie Colley, Ismaila Jammeh and in the presence of former president Jammeh.
A voice, in the tape, alleged to be of lieutenant Landing Sanneh -then State Guard Commander -could be heard barking instructions at Almamo Manneh during a convened meeting to plot a takeover which Ousman Sonko was a part of but discreetly recorded acting as a snitch for Jammeh.
Relaying to Gambia’s truth commission last year, Ismaila Jammeh said, a voice could be heard enquiring whether soldiers at Picking – a joint at State House – are notified for their buying in of an imminent coup to which Manneh responded: “I don’t give a Fu*k. If They hear I am behind the coup, then everybody will come in.”
Wary of the mounting mucky atmosphere or rather paranoid of consequence of a takeover, president Jammeh is believed to have ordered for a quick extinguishing of the plot in its tracks.
Tasked with the job dubbed, in military parlance, an “operation”, the late Musa Jammeh (Maliya) hastily assembled a squad of hit-men comprising the physical guards at Kanilai detailed to liquidate Manneh, and, if possible, apprehend his co-conspirator, Landing Sanneh.
The former transitive was not obvious in self-confessed killer Ismaila Jammeh’s testimony to the TRRC, but it was carried out anyway.
Noteworthy of a retrospect is, Almamo had taken the keys of Gambia presidential palace’s armoury without returning them and is purported to have told off Ismaila Jammeh, then a private soldier, when he reminded him keys of the armoury are to be “signed out”.
LURED AWAY FROM PUBLIC VIEW AND SPRAYED DEAD WITH LIVE ROUNDS
Soldiers from various sections positioned at Kanilai were summoned and carefully hand-picked for an operation, armed with Ak47 and 30-bullet magazines in a line up of three trucks assigned to get rid of the mutineers
Ousman Sonko was picked at Sting Corner and placed a phone call-to Almamo, thought to be still at this stage unaware of his leaked intentions to upstage Jammeh. The call was said to have been made on loudspeaker for all war-ready soldiers to hear.
In participant Ismaila Jammeh’s elaboration, Manneh eagerly responded “Yes I am coming” to Sonko at the other end of the phone.
Military-style, an ambush was laid out at the isolated Bone Road where Almamo was told was his scheduled meeting point that night to “discuss something.”
Sonko, stood on the lonely road awaiting Manneh who stepped out of the vehicle. As Hollywood-like this story might sound, soldiers shouted “you’re under arrest” to Manneh who, in a fit of anger, allegedly responded by randomly opening fire saying “Meng Sunta Arrest Whole Babe Farrata”as Sonko dashed down to take cover.
Then came respond fire from the soldiers emerging from the mangroves as Manneh’s corpse got ridden with bullets and oozing blood profusely.
The government sponsored thugs that night made out for Landing Sanneh’s abode who threw a grenade and ran out via his house’s backyard but got apprehended and taken to the barracks.
Almamo’s corpse was then handed over to the military police at Yundum as his wife Binta Jamba and two kids grew worry-sick and frantically searched for his whereabouts.
A TALE OF 60 INCIDENTS OF RAPE
Almamo’s demise marked beginning of his wife Binta Jamba’s torments, as Sonko eyed the fallen soldier’s partner who learnt of her better half’s brutal assassination about 48 hours later over state-owned Radio Gambia.
Events prior to this, a distraught Mrs. Manneh had asked one of her hubby’s bosoms regarding her husband’s whereabouts who, it happened, had president Jammeh’s personal line and dialed to get answers.
He was told to listen to news at 6pm. Minutes after news broke of Almamo’s death, soldiers stormed Binta Jamba’s home and had her evacuated with her kids from what was a government residence onto the streets without fare for transport.
This chapter about set it for the sequence of events to follow as Ousman Sonko made raping Almamo’s wife a daily routine. The circle of sex without consent for the widow began when the erstwhile police boss had invited her to his office at the presidential palace and placed his gun on his desk. Lifting her skirt later, Sonko, according to Jamba’s TRRC testimony, had shoved his hand into her undergarment and attempted to unzip his trousers before he got disrupted by an orderly’s knock on his office door notifying him of waiting visitors.
Mrs. Manneh insists she had never consented to sleeping with Sonko, revealing how he had raped her during her mourning period including locking her up with little food in a small house minutes away from the presidential villa and threatening to shoot her dead if she ever dare speak up.
According to Jamba, the former minister detained her weeks on end to satisfy his libido in a circle of sixty rape incidents, prompting her subsequent exile first to Casamance before relocating to the US.
Sonko this minute risks serving jail term for a long time if found guilty of allegations of rape, murder and crime against humanity in Switzerland.
The former police boss fell out with his former president Jammeh, two months to Yaya’s ouster by Barrow in 2016, and fled to Spain.
Being a popular face and easily distinguished, news leaked Ousman was seeking refuge in a makeshift camp housing Gambians and other irregular migrants in Spain.
He was quickly arrested after Jamba had relayed her story of torments to international rights organisations who swiftly issued a warrant and initiated the former state house general’s relocation to Luzern where he is being trialed for multiple counts of rape and murder on other Gambians.
The trial is currently stalling over the covid lockdown.