This is a detailed report by the Department of State for the Interior into the shooting of Deyda Hydara, managing editor of The Point Newspaper.
The report is aimed at acquainting government and other interested parties with the outcome of the investigation so far.
The report covers the outcome of the investigation so far into Deyda’s shooting which occurred while he was driving a Mercedes Benz 190 on board which were two female members of his staff: Ida Jagne Joof and Nyansarang Jobe.
Pursuant to the directives of the Director General NIA, the investigating team embarked on the task by examining the information transmitted by the police before proceeding further to explore additional avenues.
Since the attacker or attackers of the trio were not caught red handed or with a smoking gun in the hand, the investigators have adopted the preliminary investigation procedures which enabled them obtain information from witnesses and looked at traces and marks left on the scene of crime and elsewhere (i.e.documents, like telephone print outs, bank accounts, contract documents and testaments).
Visits to the scene of crime, inspection of the vehicle in which the shooting occurred, reconstruction of the itinerary from the Point Newspaper office through Kairaba Avenue and them along Banjul Highway and finally Sankung Sillah Road to the incident spot, interview and questioning of persons including police personnel, journalists, family members of the victims, employees of Point Newspaper, friends of the victims and examination of newspapers and other documents yielded the following findings:-
Deyda Hadara was born in Barra, North Bank Division, son of Yahalima Faal and was brought up and educated at the Foyer Francais at Hill Street, Banjul before pursuing secondary and tertiary education in Senegal.
He worked for Radio Syd from 1970-1988 when he resigned and left to set up his own business. During the period working with Syd, he and Pap Saine set up a paper called The Senegambia Sun, which was sponsored by a Senegalese national in 1982 together with Baboucarr Gaye as the Editor. He married Miss Maria in the early 70s and they have five children.
Mrs Maria Hadara was in England with two of their children at the time of Deyda’s death and has since returned to The Gambia to mourn him.
At the time of his death, Deyda was living with some members of his family, his daughter Nelly and her younger brother at a house rented at Kanifing South.
After being shot, he seemingly died on the spot and was transported to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital where an autopsy was conducted on him and two bullets were removed from his head and stomach respectively.
The two ladies who were admitted at the same hospital were later evacuated by the journalist fraternity to the hospital in Dakar, Senegal for further treatment.
A bullet has been reportedly removed from Nyansarang Jobe’s foot. Ida who is said to have suffered from bruises was discharged and both of them are living with relatives in Dakar.
The two ladies who could have been treated in The Gambia were removed out of the country under the pretext of seeking treatment abroad (i.e Dakar).
They have since their evacuation sought refuge in Dakar. Consequent to the removal of the bullet from Nyansarang’s foot, the two decided to stay with relatives in Senegal under pretext of threats to their lives in The Gambia.
Their ploy to inspire sympathy for consideration for offer of asylum in Europe or America is the talk of the town. While they were at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) the two ladies could not be interviewed by the Police as the hospital authorities only allowed members of the media fraternity access to the former.
In fact, when the agents of the CID attempted to question the two injured ladies, following their recovery from the initial trauma of the incident, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) asked them to present a formal request from their Inspector General as a condition for access to the ladies. When the Police returned the next day with the formal request, the ladies had already been moved out to the airport bound for Senegal under the escort of Demba Jawo, the GPU President.
While Ida and Nyansarang were interned at a hospital in Dakar, The Gambia Police Investigation Unit made arrangements with the media fraternity and the Senegalese authorities through the latter’s High Commission in The Gambia to visit and interview them.
The Police had no easy time doing their work which was conducted under not very ideal conditions, (i.e. in the presence of Senegalese Security Personnel, Journalists and interpreters.)
At present, arrangements are under-way for the NIA investigators to travel to Dakar to meet and further question the two ladies, who are the most reliable eye witnesses to the incident. Meanwhile, a formal request to facilitate the above has been addressed to the Senegalese authorities via their High Commission in The Gambia and copied to Journalist Federation Headquarters in Dakar by fax and also copied to The Gambia Press Union (GPU).
Deyda had on December 16th, 1992 started The Point Newspaper with Pap Saine as partner on a fifty, fifty share-basis.
Over the years, The Point became prominent by its virulent unguarded attacks on all and sundry in the present government, prominent Gambians, public institutions, private enterprises, individual businessmen and groups, international organisations, security agents, and international figures etc.
Deyda has on several occasions since the days of the PPP government been invited to security institutions to be cautioned and advised to set records straight, particularly whenever he had erred and was way off the path upholding the canons and ethics of the journalism profession.
Since the advent of the Media Commission Bill, he had relentlessly and persistently criticised government and also attempted to challenge the bill in court though to no avail.
In his column Good Morning Mr President, he has since July 22 Revolution, been launching direct unprecedented attacks on the person of President Jammeh.
In his Bite Column, he hauled unpleasant remarks on the Government of The Gambia for the institution of laws and other steps taken by government to control the press from abuse of its freedom of expression; which he described draconian measures put in place to muzzle free press.
During the last trade season, his attacks were concentrated on GAMCO on their way of handling the trade season and matter relating to its funding and the purchasing price of groundnuts. Personnel of the GAMCO had been visiting Deyda to warn him against persistent campaign of malinformation.
The last such visit was on Thursday 16th December 2004, to advice him, to desist from making unconfirmed and irresponsible remarks that may unduly jeopardise the trade season arrangements.
During the course of the year 2004, he had bitter exchanges on publications of The Point with Wally Muhammed Hakim, a businessman of Lebanese origin, but of dual nationality (Gambian and American) residing in The Gambia.
Incidentally, or on purpose, at about 1700 hours, on Thursday 16th December 2004, while Deyda and his co-proprietor and staff were celebrating the 13 Anniversary of the establishment of the Point Newspaper, the American Ambassador and one Nana Grey-Johnson, employee of that Embassy, who were attendance that same day.
Mr Hakim sent his son, under a pretext to arrange for the preparation of an invoice for an advertisement for his Christmas programmes and had some telephone conversation with Deyda purportedly on that subject.
Strangely, between 0745 and 0815 Hrs on Friday 17th December 2004, while the death of Deyda was known by only a few, Mr Hakim’s wife, daughter and driver were already in front of the Point Office, under the pretext of being there to pay for the afore-mentioned invoice. Ostensibly, having learnt of the shooting incident, the Hakim family hastened to use the invoice money to pay for condolence message at the Observer Newspaper giving the impression of being sorry for the incident.
Elicitation, during questioning at the NIA led to the information that Mr Hakim had at his residence in Kerr Serign Njagga, Kombo North, Western Division, a cache of weapons including hunting rifles, a 357 Magnum Revolver and large quantity of cartridges and various sorts of ammunition.
Due to his (Mr Hakim) inability to quantify the lot of ammunition he brought into the country and lack of proof of the lawful entry of weapons and ammunition into The Gambia, the investigators conducted a second search at his residence.
The search yielded more hunting cartridges, two (22) bullets, pellets and 357 Magnum Revolver bullets for which he was re-arrested, detained and further questioned.
Enquiries carried out with the help of the Police Gun Licensing Department and the Customs and Excise did not lead to any documentary evidence of the arms being cleared through the Customs.
Mr Hakim’s passports, weapons and ammunition have been impounded pending the conclusion of the investigation. He has meanwhile sent his entire family, including his grown up sons and grand children out of The Gambia and is putting up his compound, restaurant and five vehicles and impounded arsenal for sale.
In an issue of The Point 27th February 2004, Deyda attacked Captain Bunja Darboe; Former Army PRO following the latter’s expression of his idea about a subject on debate at a conference held at an earlier date. The Captain could not be heard as he had since April 2004 been on peace-keeping assignment in Sudan. In that the shooting happened in his absence.
He had however reacted by writing back to Deyda’s criticism. Deyda had pointed fingers at the Green Boys as being at the origin of arson attack on Radio One FM some years ago. The Green Boys, whom some individuals use to refer to as members of the defunct July 22 supporters or followers of Baba Jobe, and who have been in total disarray since the July 22 Movement was disbanded in 2000.
An employee of The Point, one Mrs Ida Jagne Joof, is married to one Mr Joof presently residing in Sweden. Ida Jagne Joof had been employed at the Point Newspaper since around 1993, initially as a typist and had over the years risen to the position of layout assistant. There is a lot of speculation among the employees of the Point that there is a love affair between her and Deyda.
Ida’s Sister-in-Law has persistently complained about the special way in which Ida dresses when going to work and about the frequent of her rides in Deyda’s vehicle. Mr Joof has frequently verbally attacked and accused Ida about her affairs with Deyda, and he has of later stopped calling Ida and insulted her whenever she did.
Many of the employees had during their interviews with the investigators confirmed that they often observer and have been talking about an unusually very close relationship between Deyda and Ida.
A few months before the shooting incident, Ida’s husband had been calling her and complaining and protesting about the way Ida dressed when went to work and the amount of time she spent with Deyda. He complained especially against riding in Deyda’s mercedes Benz till late in the night.
Apparently, Ida’s sisters in law, was a valuable source of information on the activities on Deyda and Ida. Mr Joof on some occasions hauled threats and insults at Ida who did not do away with the habit which her jealous husband has been complaining about.
Ida become fed up and had wanted to ask for a divorce but was encouraged by her mother-i- law to try to put up with the husbands harassment promising that she would prevail on her son to stop all the problems and to send Ida a ticket to join him in Sweden. For several months the harassment continued in there suspicious relationship and threats flared up.
While the Point Newspaper flourished under Deyda’s pen, Pap Saine the Co-Proprietor manages the funds and marketing aspect. The duo, have co-founded the paper-agreeing on fifty fifty share basis.
The firm was duly registered and a bond entered into between Pap and the state on the following conditions:-
By this bond, I Deyda Hadara of Kanifing South, Kombo St Mary’s Division, The Gambia of Gambian nationality, in the Republic of The Gambia, do execute this bond with my surety, Pap Saine of 13 Stanley Street, Banjul, aforesaid, in the Republic of The Gambia in the sum of a hundred thousand dalasis (D100,000.00) to be paid to His Excellency, the Chairman of the AFPRC of The Gambia, his heirs, and successors as required by Section of the Newspaper Act of Cap 33.04 as amended by the Newspaper Amendment Decree Number 71 of the Republic of The Gambia.
As guarantee for the bond, Pap Saine has submitted his title deed to the state.
Immediately after the death of Deyda, Pap Saine took sole responsibility for the conduct of funeral rites and entered into a new partnership with Mr. Maria Hydara for the management of The Point.
The Late Co-proprietor’s brother and his siblings have bitterly complained about the state of affairs especially the total ostracisation of the lager family, but do not know what recourse to take.
When questioned about the accounts and the bank statements of The Point and his late co-proprietor’s will, Pap Saine sounded very jittery and went on to protest in The Point publication dated March 2005.
Information relating to an unknown Nigeria supplier who would have been at daggers drawn with the late Deyda over the non settlement of debts could not be confirmed nor substantiated.
In the absence of any eye witness or identification traces and marks leading to the identity of the assailant or assailants of Deyda and the two ladies on board his vehicle on the night of 16th December 2004, the investigators have elected to draw conclusions based on hypotheses premised on the character of the victim, the nature of his profession and his relationships in business, family life, and his social and economic interactions and the inevitable unsavoury encounters, frictions and conflicts inherent thereto.
What could be the motive for anyone to kill Deyda?
Hypotheses- A) Passion/ jealousy; B) Settling scores; C) Vengeance; D) Riding oneself of a thorn in ones flesh; E) Silencing someone in possession of compromising information lest he divulged such; F) Circumventing a process which could lead to irreparable socio-economic disaster if not nipped in its infancy.
In view of the foregoing findings, and taking cognisance of the fact the late Deyda, was least circumspect by nature, he was however an individual who had led a professional life of a journalist, a private led life of a family man and a life of a man striving to eke out a living in a world of economic uncertainties; it can further be logically concluded that:
Late Deyda Hydara had offended many to the extend he could have been eliminated for any or several of the above enumerated motives as he:
A) Was a journalist who used his pen to indiscriminately attack or pass judgment on individuals, groups, government, private and public enterprises, international organisations and very prominent international personalities.
B) Recklessly provoked above-mentioned persons and bodies, persistently inspite of all warnings and threats of legal actions from aggrieved parties. He also made himself an object of anger and a thorn in the flesh of many who have been exposed to his journalistic attacks.
C) As a serial womaniser, he had offended more than a husband and his own wife as his activities with Mrs Jagne Joof and Janet Cole among other women including wife women. He did not only arouse jealousy of husbands offended, but also that of his own wife particularly as his planned marriage to Janet would make her fearful of being abandoned for the sake of another woman.
D) He was a partner in a business with an unidentified Nigerian supplier and ended up unsettled contracted debts and unhealthy financial transactions which would have made him prey to the greed of the latter.
E) Pap Saine’s reluctance to render the accounts and swift seizures of the opportunity on the heat of the tragic event of Deyda’s demise leads to suspicion of financial misappropriation and the desire to conceal such.
Having come to the above conclusions, the investigators hereby recommended the following follow-up action:-
A)Arrangements to further interview the two ladies, Mrs Ida Jagne-Joof and Mrs Nyangsarang Jobe should be pursued to help investigators as they are the only eyewitnesses to the shooting in the death of Hydara.
B) The investigations be allowed to continue rather than be completely closed.
C) Mr Wally Muhammed Hakim should be pursued in a court of justice because the evidence already available so far indicate that the weapons found on him did not come into the country lawfully.
D) The totality of Mr Hakim’s arsenal except for single hunting weapon and a reasonable quantity of of cartridges should be confiscated to the state.
E) His passport should be held by the NIA pending conclusion of judiciary pursuits.
F) The Mercedes Benz 190 in which Deyda and others were riding should be released to the Mr Maria Hydara whose claimed of ownership has been confirmed by the office of the Inspector General of Police.”