By Omar Bah
Martin Kyere of Ghana, the sole survivor of the 2005 massacre of West African migrants in Banjul, has revealed the harrowing circumstances in which his fellow migrants were tortured and butchered to death.
Giving an account of the events that led to the gruesome murder of West African migrants, Martin, who could not contain his emotions, said the junglers used sticks, machetes and axes to kill some of the migrants.
He recalled that 56 of them boarded a canoe and headed for Banjul with the intention of boarding a vessel in Gambia to Spain, but they lost communication with the captain of the vessel and ended up at the Banjul port.
Mr Kyere said when they arrived in Banjul, they sent six of their fellow migrants to buy credit for them to call one Charles Taylor who was supposed to take them to Spain.
“But when they came down we heard gun shots and the canoe guy said to us they have killed them. That is how we turned back the canoe to Barra. When we contacted Charles Taylor to explain what happened, he then contacted his friend Lamin Tunkara in The Gambia and asked him to go round the police stations to find out if he could trace our guys,” Kyere narrated.
He said Charles later instructed them to find another canoe in Barra and move to where the vessel was so that they could proceed.
“It is during that process of looking for the canoe we came across one boy whose brother was a police officer. He reported us to his bother, that was how they arrested us and took us to Barra Police Station,” he explained.
He said after spending few hours at the station, a CID officer came and took their details and later Navy boats came for them and they started torturing them from that moment asking them endless questions. “When we arrived in Banjul, we were put in a bus to different cells. Few days later they brought a big truck and took us to a house tied us with a wire cable and parked us in one white pickup and started driving towards the forest. I asked Lamin Tunkara, who was also arrested in the process of looking for some of our guys…where these people were taking us but he told me we should pray. That is the time he started speaking his local language to them, but they never listened to him,” he said.
“Whiles we were going one Nigerian started saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ the junglers stopped the car and one of them came down with a cutlass and slashed his neck on the back and the man died from those injuries. We continued until we reached one village where our pickup knocked a sheep. They stopped and put the sheep inside the pickup.”
Kyere said as they were going, another man complained about the wire cable but when they heard him, one soldier came down and slashed his arm with a cutlass.
“Everybody at that time started screaming…that is the time I managed to escape the horror that was taking place in the vehicle by jumping off the pick-up, and ran into the forest while they were shooting in my direction,” he added.