By Lamin Njie
The wife of a senior military officer who was killed in 1994 has said that those behind his death should be held accountable.
Lt Basirou Barrow who was a serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces, left for work on November 10, 1994 and never returned home.
It is alleged that the 35-year-old was murdered by fellow soldiers following an alleged coup d’état against former President Yahya Jammeh’s five months old military regime. Lt BaRROW was accused of being the coup’s leader.
He left for work and never returned, his wife of 10 years Sunkary Yabo speaking to The Fatu Network’s Kesebondi Jabato said.
“He was on night duties. We heard sounds of gunshot the whole night. In the morning we heard rumours that there was a coup d’état and that it happened at Yundum camp. Some were saying Fajara. I was really worried because my husband left in the night. I didn’t know what to do.
“The whole family converged at my house. They asked what happened and I told them he left for work and I haven’t seen him yet. I then left the house and I was walking in the street. I went up to around Westfield. That was around 5 pm. And then I heard the news on Focus on Africa. I heard the news saying, ‘there are some soldiers involved in a coup detat and their leader is Lt Basirou Barrow’. The news said he has been killed.”
Lt Barrow was alleged to have been killed alongside 13 others. Some of them were allegedly buried while still alive.
“I heard the news at Westfield. My body went numb. My legs couldn’t take me. I ended up flagging a taxi. The taxi took me home,” Mrs Barrow said.
She added: “I found the house filled with people. Everyone was crying.”
Mrs Barrow said life has never been the same for her and her three kids since Mr Barrow’s death.
“I have to say thank God that I can sit today and talk about this. We were so scared and we couldn’t come out and speak. We couldn’t say anything and couldn’t go anywhere,” she said.
Some military people came to Mr Barrow’s house a day after his death to retrieve his military paraphernalia.
“That was in the night. They took everything including his uniforms,” Mrs Barrow said.
She added: “The next morning, the NIA for me. They invited us to their headquarters in Banjul. They asked me what I knew about the matter. I told them I didn’t know anything. I told them I was only a wife and my hushand told me he was leaving for work and in the morning I heard he has been killed.”
The National Intelligence Agency during their interrogation of Mrs Barrow asked her other things about her husband.
“They asked me a lot of things: how many compounds he has, how many children he has, how many wives he has and all his assets. I told them what I knew. But I couldn’t tell them anything about the coup as I didn’t know anything about that,” she said.
Lt Barrow was only 35 years old when he died. His wife, Sunkary Yabo Barrow was 27 years old.
“It was so hard. I was 27 years old. I was young and immature. I didn’t have anyone to help me,” she said
“I had a tailoring shop but I was running into trouble paying my staff. He used to bail me out at such times. And then I asked myself how I was going to make a living without him. And then I decided to open a restaurant at the market. I developed sight problems because of the heat. And I’ve had eye surgery.”
Mrs Barrow ran the restaurant business for seven years.
“I did this to make sure I and my kids could make a living. I had three kids and I needed to take care of their education,” she said.
‘I Want Justice’
According to Mrs Barrow, the coming to power of the new government has given her hope that justice will be served with regard to her husband’s death.
She said: “We have been demanding for justice but we have not gotten it yet. We once even went to justice ministry where we had a meeting but we’re yet to succeed.
“When Mai Fatty was in government, he used to come to meet us when we call him. We used to talk to him about our issues but now no one comes to see us. It’s only human rights groups and people coming from Europe and other places. I have not received any special support yet. Government hasn’t made any effort in my husband’s case yet. But I still have hope that the government will do something for us.”