By Mustapha Jallow
Adama Conteh, the wife of late Lamin Tunkara has told Foroyaa that she is ready to forgive those who killed her husband on condition that they confess to their crime before the TRRC.
According to the 37 – year – old widow, her husband was an agent who dealt with 44 Ghanaians and other foreign nationals who were on their way to Europe using the ‘backway’.
Tunkara was a native of Kinteh-Kunda/Marong-Kunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR).
She said: “He was killed… . Whether I forgive the killers or not – Lamin is gone. I’ve no other choice than to forgive them and reconcile, but this could only be done if these people come forward to the TRRC and explain how he (Lamin) was killed.’’
She stated: “I would rather pardon the killers when they tell the truth than to send them to jail. I’m a Muslim. I have a heart that forgives people. I also have the belief that only these killers knew what they did to him.’’
According to the widow, they got married in 2005 but this marriage lasted only for seven months and Tunkara disappeared without trace. She said her husband went missing when she was 7 months pregnant.
She said Lamin used to close work at about 6 pm, but on Sunday, 25 July 2005, he (Lamin) told her that he was going to Westfield.
“While resting on my bed, Lamin walked in around 3 pm and he informed me that he was under arrest with a full escort by a group of state security agents. I saw about 10 men dressed in civilian clothes; some in black clothes while others in their African outfit,’’ she explained.
Conteh added, “The arresting officers came with 3 pickups. A thorough search was conducted in all the rooms by these men, but they did not see anything. At around 5 pm, they took Lamin away.”
She said about an hour later, Lamin called her informing her that he was held at the Police headquarters in Banjul.
She further narrated: “I visited him on the following day, where I saw him being put in a police cell. We had a brief chat and he explained to me that his arrest came as a result of helping 44 Ghanaians who were on their way to Europe.’’
According to the 37-year-old, Lamin further informed her that these foreigners came all the way from Ghana and Nigeria. She said her husband disclosed to her that he was their agent in the Gambia.
“This is what led to Lamin’s arrest,’’ the woman said, adding “I saw some Ghanaians in custody together with Tunkara.”
Conteh said her husband spent 4 days in detention at the police headquarters before he was moved to the Kairaba Police station. While in detention at Kairaba, she said Lamin phoned her again informing her to take D6000 from his money and hire Lawyer Neneh Cham to help him secure bail.
She narrated that after giving the Lawyer D6000, the next day, Neneh went to the police station to process the bail, but the police officers told her to come on the following day, which she complied with.’’
She continued: “On the following day, Lamin disappeared from the Kairaba Police Station and the Lawyer couldn’t process the bail because there was no sign of Tunraka in the cell.’’
She added: “We enquired from the officers on duty, they told us that Lamin has been transferred but they don’t know where he was taken to.”
Conteh said she began to search for her husband even though her pregnancy was heavy. She said she gave birth to Binta Tunkara on the 9 October 2005. She said she used to spend hours at Mile II waiting to see whether she will get information on Lamin’s whereabouts, but to no avail.
She said from Mile II, she proceeded to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to enquire about Lamin’s whereabouts. While at the reception, she added an NIA agent came and asked her who she was looking for.
She said the agent told her “sister, do not put yourself in trouble. So, come let’s go and I will give you a lift.”
“I complied and went with him. I entered in his vehicle, we were chatting until he (the agent) secretly disclosed to me that my husband is not alive,’’ the tearful widow said.
She said: “The agent drove me until around my junction where he dropped me, but he gave me D300 and asked me to go home rather than put myself in trouble.’’
She described her late husband as a hardworking man, who was a second-hand clothes dealer at the Banjul market.
“Before he went for work, I used to prepare breakfast and we used to eat together. He will say ‘thank you’ with a smile. It was a sweet moment with him. We do love and care for each other,’’ Conteh said.
“It is sad that Binta was born in the absence of her father. She did not see the face of her father. As she grew up, she continuously asks for the whereabouts of her father,’’ narrated Adama.
She continued: “I had no option but to explain to her what happened to her father, which was sad for a little girl like her.’’
Binta was enrolled in SOS basic school, where the mother (Conteh) paid D8000 as school fees.
“The disappearance of Lamin affected his daughter’s education. Binta later stopped going to school as a result of the financial problems. I could not pay for her school fees. Our petty business collapsed and our survival was very hard,’’ she explained.
She said her daughter, including other victims, need support from the authorities as it would help build their foundation for the future.