By Alagie Manneh

Ex-Army officer Wassa Camara has described as a “mere fantasy” at the time to believe former exiled leader Yahya Jammeh will let him and his co convicts walk out of jail a free man.

The former Army captain was sentenced to life in 2006, but released after spending only 9-years in the Gambia’s notorious Mile two prison, following a failed coup to remove Jammeh from power.

He was convicted alongside seven former military officers, two civilians and a former director-general of the Gambia Immigration Department, who were all linked in connection with the abortive coup attempt.

And the former prisoner who seek refuge in Dakar after his release in July 2015, now admitted as a ‘mere fantasy’ during his stay in jail ex-President Jammeh would ever let them walk away a free man.

“It’s something that I never believed will happened,” Wassa told journalists when asked during last week’s Independence celebrations if he ever envisaged being a part of this new Gambia.

“From the very moment I was jailed, people were crying. While we were in jail, we never believe we will be going out.

“We understood we were under the claws of a real dictator in Africa. A dictator in the whole world, Yahya Jammeh is known for his mass killings, extra judicial killings, rape, misappropriation of government funds and the like.

“So for one to sit and think while you were in jail and said ‘you will celebrate the 52 Independence celebrations, our side, is a mere fantasy in those days.”

Describing celebrations marking the country’s 52 Independence observation as his happiest moment in life, Mr Camara said: “Today is the happiest moment that I have ever had in my life. The initial freedom that the Gambia gained from the British Empire was not the real Independence that we have. We were just from the claws of a real dictator, Yahya Jammeh.
“Look at me here standing, I was jailed for life. Imprisonment for life and then released after spending 9 years, 4 months and 13 days in prison.

“Today I am back witnessing another Independence celebration with a new President, the new Gambia which goes with the mantle of ‘Gambia Has Decided. So we all have decided. We are all happy today. It’s the happiest moment of our lives,” he said.

Mr Camara also talks up the Gambia he envisages under the new government, saying he wants total democracy.

“But democracy has to go in line with knowing your rights and knowing how best you can exercise those rights given to you. Exercising your rights, you don’t have to entrench on other people’s rights. That is very important.

“What I would tell the government is let them have the right people at the right places. People who are professional in their domain will ensure that the proper governing of the state is done in the rightful way, and that is the most essential thing we have to think about.”

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