‘Those Who Killed My Husband Are Walking Freely In Banjul’
Adama Conteh, widow of the late Lamin Tunkara, the lone Gambian who was massacred alongside forty-four (44) other West African migrants in 2005, has expressed her total shock and disbelief that those who killed her husband are walking freely in the streets of Banjul, while she continues to suffer with her thirteen (13) year-old daughter.
Adama is among many other citizens who are still searching for justice from Gambian authorities fourteen (14) years after her late-husband, Lamin Tunkara, was murdered by members of the notorious Jungulars hit squad of former President Yahya Jammeh. They admitted to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that they killed Lamin Tunkara and other West African migrants on the instructions of Yahya Jammeh.
The Junjulars’ admission to killings authorized by former President Yahya Jammeh led to the release of four Jungulars including Malick Jatta and Omar “Oya” Jallow, but the release does not sit well with families of the numerous victims found in the country including Adama Conteh.
“Releasing these jungulars is like a slap in the face by the very government that vowed to be our main protector against aggression and impunity. Since my husband died in the hands of these people, I think my family should have been engaged before any decision is taken as far as their release is concerned. What is more shocking is that those who killed my husband are walking freely in the streets of Banjul while we the victims are still suffering,” Madam Tunkara expressed her disappointment.
She added: “I was shocked when I heard from the testimonies of the Jungulars that they were the ones who killed my husband along with forty-four other West African Nationals on the authority of Yahya Jammeh. This will continue to shock me for the rest of my life especially when justice is not seen to be done in the killing of my husband.”
The late Lamin Tunkara was born in Kinteh Kunda, Marong Kunda, in the North Bank Region of the country before he relocated to Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia to venture into business at Albert Market. It was at this market that Tunkara was said to have met the forty-four West African migrants on their adventurous journey to Europe through the “back-way”.
Tunkara’s death was all but confirmed when media news reports suggested that he was killed alongside the West African migrants in the hands of the former President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad. During their testimony at the TRRC, they narrated how they massacred Lamin Tunkara and the other West African migrants around the Brufut Heights area and other places within the country.
“It has been fourteen solid years since I last set eyes on my late husband. All I knew then was my husband was allegedly killed along with forty-four other West African migrants somewhere around Brufut. The circumstances in which he was killed was all along concealed from us (the family); it only became clear to me when I saw the Jungulars explaining before the nation how my husband was killed,” Madam Tunkara revealed.
She said her family was never informed of the circumstances in which her husband was killed by the former government even though she visited the notorious National Intelligence Agency and the Police Headquarters in Banjul to ascertain what may have led to the death of Lamin Tunkara Adama Conteh revealed to The Chronicle.
“The massacre of the West African migrants including Ghanaians is no more a secret, time and again, the Gambian government has made repeated statements about it, but they have never mentioned my husband’s name. To me, the Gambian government values the lives of the West African migrants more than its own son, Lamin Tunkara,” argued Adama Conteh.
Adama recalls that she last saw her late husband at the Kairaba police station where he was detained alongside the West African migrants, adding that it was shortly after this visit that she learnt from close family members that her husband was massacred by the Jungulars.
“He was very optimistic that he was going to get a bail from the police and will soon join me at home, not knowing that it was going to be the last discussion we will ever have. Lamin was just a very loving, caring and affectionate husband and during all the time we shared together, he showed me all the true love that I deserved,” Adama Conteh, explained.
The 37-year-old widow disclosed that Tunkara was the breadwinner of the family, adding that his death marked the beginning of a long journey of suffering for her and her 13-year-old daughter who never enjoyed her father’s love and care.
“The only unfortunate episode of his story is that he was killed when I was pregnant with a baby that he never had the chance to see and be a father to,” Adama Conteh stated.
According to her, Lamin never told her what sort of deal he entered into with the massacred West African migrants or disclosed what or who was involved. He only told her that he was in a business venture which was the reason for his late arrivals at home in the evenings.
“I want to appeal to the Gambian government to look into the issue of my late husband because it is not fair to leave those who admitted to killing him, free from detention and still want to keep us suspended like nothing happened to Lamin Tunkara. At the same time, its’ shocking to always hear the government’s statements on the killing of the West African migrants without making reference to my husband’s name,” Madam Tunkara complained