The spokesman for the Kanilai Alkalo Ebrima Jammeh, has debunked claims made by Gambia’s Interior Minister Mai Fatty that the Alkalo of the village Bakary Jammeh, was among the villagers, who evaded police arrest. “ The Kanilai Alkalo Bakary Jammeh, has never evaded police arrest. He has never absconded contrary to Mai Fatty’s misleading and unfounded claims. Why would the Alkalo flee? For what? What has he done? We are here in Kanilai. When the police came, they found us in the village. For Mai Fatty to make such false claims, is disingenuous on his part,” said Ebrima Jammeh.  Mr. Jammeh is the son of Alkalo Bakary Jammeh. He said his aging Dad cannot speak the Mandinka and Wollof dialects; hence his Dad delegated him to speak on his behalf. 

Speaking to Freedom Radio Gambia, Mr. Jammeh said he was surprised to learn that Interior Minister Mai Fatty made such false claims on state television. He said people informed him about Mai’s claims that his Dad was in hiding. 

“Some journalists from the Foroyaa Newspaper came here and found my Dad in the village. They met both of us. I speak on behalf of my Dad. This was the day, when the police raided the village to arrest people. We were saddened to hear Mai Fatty, making such claims. My Dad has never been arrested. He has never fled the village. We are here. We are not moving anywhere. My Dad hasn’t done anything to warrant him to leave the village. We have no other place other than Kanilai. Kanilai is our home,” said Mr. Jammeh.

Minister Mai Fatty, in his speech to the nation on Saturday claimed that Alkalo Bakary Jammeh was in hiding together with some villagers. He also said over twenty people were arrested in connection with Friday’s protest March, which led to the killing of 54 year old Haruna Jatta. Mr. Jatta was shot and killed by the Senegalese security forces. Six other protesters have been hospitalized due to gunshot wounds.

Narrating the circumstances surrounding the incident, Ebrima Jammeh said the villagers had decided to take to the streets to demand for the withdrawal of the ECOMIG forces in Kanilai, because the locality is now becoming a militarized zone; hence causing fear to the populace.

“The heavy presence of Senegalese troops in the village and its environment has really scared the populace. It is causing panic here. We are not used to arm soldiers walking around the village flashing their guns. Prior to the protest, we were made to understand that an additional 1000 soldiers, would be deployed here to police the region. We felt that such a deployment is unacceptable. We do not need soldiers here. Period,” he said

When told that soldiers were deployed in Kanilai during Jammeh’s era, Ebrima Jammeh was quick to say: “ While Jammeh was here in Kanilai, soldiers do not walk around the village with guns. We felt being harassed by the Senegalese forces right now. Our space is being violated by these foreign troops, who walked around the village with guns,” he said.

According to Ebrima Jammeh, the late Haruna Jatta, used to take care of Jammeh cows. He said Jatta was killed by the Senegalese security forces.

“Haruna was tasked to oversee Jammeh’s cows. He was a herdsman. He was among the protesters. None of the protesters were armed. For anyone to suggest that the protesters were armed is false. The protesters only had placard (papers) in their hands during the protest, which they displayed calling for the withdrawal of the ECOMIG forces in the region. The Senegalese forces used excessive force to quell the protest. They used live bullets to shoot at the protesters. Haruna Jatta was killed, and many others were injured. They also used their gun butts to beat the protesters. The protesters were mercilessly beaten. It was a complete chaos. Some protesters came home bleeding. Some were hospitalized,” Jammeh tells Freedom Radio Gambia. 

When asked about the whereabouts of Sainey Jammeh, dictator Jammeh’s brother, Mr. Jammeh said he hasn’t seen Sainey for the past two days. He is not sure as to whether Sainey was on the run or has been arrested.

Ramadan Hunger

Mr. Jammeh said the absence of Jammeh is being felt by the villagers. He said Jammeh used to extend helping hand to the villagers during the month of Ramadan. But under Adama Barrow’s rule, no food aid has emerged yet. 

“At this time of the year, Jammeh would supply us rice, sugar, cooking oil and other condiments. But this year, we do not receive such philanthropist assistance from him. We really missed Jammeh. I didn’t get much from my groundnut harvest. Life is hard for us in Kanilai. You will fast the whole day, and when it comes to breaking your fast, it is hard to put food on the table,” Jammeh remarked.

When asked whether that was the reason why they decided to organize an anti Senegalese forces demonstration in Kanilai, Mr. Jammeh laughed.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha. I am being honest with you. This year’s Ramadan is not easy in Kanilai. People are hungry. Jammeh used to feed us. We have nothing against Adama Barrow and his government. The protest was based on principled stance. Adama Barrow has proven that he doesn’t like Yahya Jammeh’s family. Since he came to power, he has never visited Kanilai or spoken to my Dad. We accepted him as our leader, but I do not think Barrow cares about the people of Kanilai and the family of Yahya Jammeh,” he said.

“Jammeh is a good son of the Gambia. I remember when he was young, he used to go to the bush to find honey for us. He will  return home and serve honey to the elders of the village. He grew in my presence. We raised him. One thing I know, he was a stubborn kid. Anything he says, he will do it. That I can tell you. I heard that he is coming back to the Gambia. It is being rumored. We cannot wait for that day,” he added.

On the issue of Jammeh’s properties at his villa, Mr. Jammeh said the Barrow government had moved all the vehicles Jammeh left at the property including some arms.

“I saw them taking Jammeh’s cars and some arms from his home. The family still had access to the property. When Jammeh was leaving, he entrusted his home to one Alieu Sowe. Alieu is a former soldier. Alieu is a good man. He is here in Kanilai. The Gambian army is occupying the property,” he said.

Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai

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