According to GRTS, 229 prisoners were released and this, according to the statement read on the national TV station includes 26 treason convicts, 14 murder convicts, 8 hard drug convicts, 98 drug possession convicts, 72 drug trafficking convicts, 10 robbery convicts and 1 juvenile murder convict.
Observers have noted that there is something peculiar about the details of the release though, and it can only point to a more insidious scary conclusion – even though Yahya’s promise to the world included Death row inmates, not a single one of them was included in the statement, which came on the heels of him telling Imams during his EID meeting with them that he intends to carry out executions because according him, the crime rate in the country has gone up again. Could the release of these prisoners be a precursor to another round of executions just as he did in 2012? Very likely according to these observers. That is the scary prospect everyone is now pondering over and Gambia watchers are urging the International Community to intervene and put pressure on Yahya to not only avoid carrying out these executions, but instead keep his promise of releasing them. None of the Death row inmates was accorded due process of the law, so their guilt or innocence cannot be established at this point.
There are other inconsistencies in the whole exercise, these could be due to unfair rules applied and outright discrimination in other cases. Take the case of Bun Sanneh and Co for example. This was a drug case in which Bun and his coworkers at the NDEA were all implicated. However, among the people convicted, Bun is the only one released while the rest Karamo Bojang AKA Sembe, Ousman Sanneh, and Seedy Bojang continue to languish in Mile 2. The reason for this disregard for fairness is tribalism – Bun is Jola while the rest are Mandinkas. Take the case of Ensa Badjie and co also for another instance. Jesus as he is fondly called is released while Kuluteh Manneh and Matarr Secka continued to be detained – another blatant case of tribalism. The other inconsistency is that despite his promise to release all foreign nationals, many are still held in Mile 2 – former Chief Justice, Wowo is a perfect example. Wowo has bitterly complained about this unfairness to Mile 2 officials according to sources. Amadou Sanneh, Ma Ebou Cham, Babadi Sarr are all still in detention even though their families were promised they will be released as part of this deal. Amadou’s case was politically motivated, Ma Ebou’s offense was less serious than the murder and drug convicts released, while Babadi was never even charged of any crime. These issues have compromised the whole integrity of this exercise according observers. “Not that any of these people was supposed to even be there in the first place” one observer angrily retorted.
Of those released, 52 came from the notorious Security Wing of Mile 2, leaving behind 90. The Dutch National, Rudy Gazi, finally went home Friday. This, after he was pardoned and picked up again the last time Jammeh pardoned prisoners, he therefore didn’t want to take any chances this time around. GRTS has also announced that all those convicted by the former PPP government will be pardoned, giving an impression that there are a lot of people in this category. However, when Faturadio enquired with officials at the ministry of interior, we were informed that only three inmates; Kebba Camara, Omar Sey and Malang Jatta were in Mile 2 from that period.