(JollofNews) – An international transport union has called on President Yahya Jammeh and the Gambian regime to open an investigation following the sudden death in custody last week of a trade union leader.
Sheriff Diba, head of the Gambia National Transport Control Association (GNTCA), died on February 21 while in detention at the Mile Two Central Prisons where he was remanded with eight other union leaders by a local judge.
In a letter addressed to the Gambian leader, the London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) expressed “grave concern” over Mr Dibba’s death, saying it appeared to be connected to brutal treatment at the hands of the Gambian intelligence services.
“According to several sources, Sheriff Diba’s death was reportedly as a result of abuse and torture received in the offices of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA),” ITF secretary general Steve Cotton wrote.
The ITF urged Mr Jammeh to set up “a national commission of inquiry including members of the GNTCA union in order to determine the exact circumstances of the death of Sherrif Diba.”
The ITF said the incident began earlier this month when Gambian trade unions asked the president to lower fuel retail prices in line with the fall in wholesale prices. In response, Jammeh banned union activities and arrested several union leaders, including Diba, it said.
On February 21, Diba collapsed at Banjul police station and was rushed to a private clinic, where he died some 30 minutes later, medical sources and the ITF said.
“He was gasping when he arrived at the clinic. The medical team consisting of a male doctor and nurses tried their best to save his life but were unable to resuscitate him,” the medical source said.
On February 11, Diba and the other union officials were brought before a judge on charges of “economic crimes” following allegations they had unlawfully imposed tariffs and charges on drivers between 2006 and 2015, thereby harming the economy.