Drama at TRRC
Gambia has come to an abrupt standstill, as the drama unfolded at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission when former military junta member Yankuba Touray blatantly and audaciously rubbished the Commission and declined to testify.
Earlier on, the TRRC has put out a public announcement revealing that Touray will appear to give his testimony. Gambians both home and abroad held their breath in anticipation of the long-awaited and probably overdue testimony. Touray has been adversely mentioned severally by a host of previous witnesses for his alleged involvement in a series of gross human rights violations, including the gruesome murder of former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Cessay.
A sense of excitement, anxiety and suspense grew as the session delayed. Almost an hour later, the Commission Chairman Dr Lamin Cise publicly announced that the witness has refused to cooperate and consequently issued an order for Touray’s immediate arrest. Lead Counsel Essa Faal intervened and prevailed upon the Chairman to give Touray a second chance.
Following a push and pull, Touray finally accepted to appear before the Commission. Moments after he took the oath, Touray contemptuously and condescendingly declared that he would not answer any questions, invoking the infamous Indemnity Act, which was promulgated by the Jammeh regime with the sole aim of shielding junta members against any legal consequences. Looking defiant, Touray stormed out of the TRRC chambers, prompting the TRRC Chairman to order his immediate arrest for contempt of the Commission and failure to cooperate with the Commission.
Reactions to Touray’s unceremonious move were swift and robust. The former junta member who also served as Local Government Minister has been roundly condemned and panned by Gambians as arrogant, coward and disrespectful. People took to social media platforms to condemn Touray’s obscenity and profanity, with some comparing his behaviour to that of the former AFPRC Vice Chairman Sana Sabally who, despite gross violations, was widely commended for his willingness to own to his responsibility and seeking forgiveness.
With Touray refusing to testify, he is expected to face a marathon legal battle over his contention about the legality and legitimacy of the Commission, in light of the Indemnity Act. Apparently, this explains why Touray failed to appear before the Commission even though the Commission served him with a couple of subpoenas on several occasions in the past.
It is evident that Touray has missed a golden opportunity by abysmally failing to cooperate with the Commission, hence he has incensed and enraged many Gambians. The Government has been urged to repeal the Indemnity Act in the 1997 Constitution to avert the recurrence of a drama like the one that had unflooded in the Commission. Now, Gambians are keenly watching the subsequent actions to be taken against Touray for that may determine the future of the TRRC itself.